The ultimate goal of any tutor is to facilitate better education outcomes. The best way to improve outcomes often depends on the individual student and how they respond to different methods and approaches. Student attitudes and personalities make a difference too. What may work extremely well with an extroverted student may not be the best approach with an introvert. Individual student differences matter. That’s where a tutor can make all the difference in the world. A teacher just can’t tailor education to each individual student, even though most teachers try as hard as they can. Ultimately, it’s just not possible. Students who receive tutoring shouldn’t be stigmatized because they “need” tutoring. Every student can benefit from tailored tutoring. And even though students need a tailored approach, tutors can benefit from strategies which have been shown to benefit students across the board.
Online Learning Strategies
Computers and Internet access have become nearly ubiquitous in our culture. This provides a unique opportunity to tap into inherent advantages of tutoring. Even though online learning has been extremely popular for post-secondary education, the U.S. Department of Education recently released an exhaustive study which outlines how integrating an online education element improves education outcomes in primary and secondary education. We’ve suspected for a long time that at least some of the efficacy of tutoring lies partly in the collaborative process. Now we have definitive proof that our suspicions were correct all along.
Blending Is Better
An interesting result included in the official findings is that, all things being equal, online learning actually edges out traditional classroom learning: “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to face instruction.” That’s important to understand. The U.S. Department of Education didn’t say that online conditions in learning merely provided an acceptable alternative to traditional classroom learning. They actually found it slightly better. But the report goes on to say that the best learning outcomes were produced by a blend of online learning and face-to-face interaction.
Collaboration accelerates learning. But collaboration combined with online learning seems to be the most effective way for students to digest information quickly and retain it for the long term. Incorporating online learning in traditional classrooms for a portion of each class period should be a formula for better education outcomes in the future. Teachers who use Moodle in the classroom report great success and it may be that the online interactive part fuels some of that success. But these findings also seem applicable for tutoring applications as well. Tutors who can integrate some online learning conditions into their traditional tutoring routines may find it helpful for boosting student success rates across the board.
Finding the Right Mix
Tutors have a unique opportunity to integrate these finding into a tailored approach for individual students. The U.S. Department of Education study shows the effectiveness of blending online learning environments with traditional instruction for large groups of students. Tutors are in a position to take this information and apply it on an individual level for optimum education outcomes. It may be that introverted students benefit with slightly more online education emphasis and extroverted students with a bit less. The ratio of personal interaction to online learning for best outcomes may vary by student. But the best part is that tutors have one more tool for tailoring to the unique needs of individual students for the best education outcomes possible.