The Benefits of Private Tuition

The key to effective tuition is communication between the student and the tutor. During a tutorial session, the following should all take place:An assessment of the student’s knowledge of the subject matter should be made, to ensure time is not wasted going over material that the student is already comfortable with. An experienced tutor will use a variety of subject knowledge questioning techniques to make these assessments, and will integrate the process seamlessly into the hour’s activities.

The sessions should have a variety of activities, first drawing out what the student needs to know, discussing the topics, and then embedding the learning with exercises from books or past examination questions. An hour of teacher-talk will simply mean that the student has spent an hour listening to a lecture without really applying the knowledge. A good tutorial should demand (almost) as much hard work from the student as from the tutor!

Students should ask questions, and the tutor should be able to provide answers. Tip for students: have a go at past exam questions, and show the tutor where you get stuck. The explanation the tutor provides will be learned much faster because you have already grappled with the problem.

Any tricks to ‘embed’ learning are features of good tutoring. We have all had the experience of being able to follow something easily in a lesson, surprising ourselves with how easily we can answer questions on the topic, only to find that the skill and fluency desert us as soon as we step outside of the classroom. This is because the material we were learning was not sufficiently ‘embedded’, so deep learning has not occurred. Often, the simplest way to embed learning within a student is to ask them to explain the ideas being studied to someone else –  the simple act of verbalising really does force our minds to gain deeper understanding.

Private tuition should not consist of an hour-long monologue by the tutor, or silent bookwork by the student. It should be an interactive discussion, with questions from the student being answered, and the tutor constantly gauging and assessing the student’s knowledge and understanding of the material being covered, reinforcing and embedding the learning.

Above all, the student should be able to come away from every tutorial and feel more confident and positive about the topics covered. They should also start performing at higher levels on objective measures like class tests and assessments. The boost to the student’s performance – whether in their contribution in class discussions at school, or the time and pain they have to endure to complete homework assignments – should also become very apparent to parents and teachers. This general ‘lift’ in academic performance usually comes after about half a term of tuition, and school teachers may comment on the student’s excellent work and improved contributions, unaware that the student is having tuition.

121 private tutoring works because it meets the needs of the student, and focuses on addressing the specific problems that they may have with the subject. No disruption, no distractions, just pure learning.


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