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What Is High-Dosage Tutoring And Why Is It More Important Now Than Ever?

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Updated  Tom Hamilton Stubber
high-dosage tutoring

Top Researchers have suggested that the single most crucial area of school catch-up is tutoring. Regular tutoring sessions are vital to helping combat learning loss and improving academic outcomes.

Research suggests personalized instruction for students is key to helping them catch up on the school they have missed. Furthermore, researchers found that providing personalized instruction is essential to increase student grades across subjects and substantially improve their academic skills.

Furthermore, tutoring may also be key to helping the current unemployment crisis hitting many nations around the world. With many recent college graduates looking for jobs with little to no success in their school districts, tutoring could give them the "leg-up" in the first step of starting their adult life.

With that said, let's see why personalized learning in the form of high-dosage tutoring is - and why it is so effective.

What Is High-Dosage Tutoring?

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High-dosage tutoring is defined as one-on-one tutoring or tutoring in very small groups. This method of tutoring also involves having up to 3 sessions of tutoring a week, totalling about 50 hours of tutoring a term or 100 during the school year.

Research has found this type of tutoring program to be very effective and perfectly complement in-classroom learning.

The method also seems to be effective for a wide range of subjects - these findings point towards governments putting more funding into tutoring in the future.

Robert Slavin, a researcher at John Hopkins University, who has studied this subject in-depth, suggested that due to many schools closing their gates for up to 6 months, “it would be malpractice to do anything less than tutoring."

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Why Is High-Dosage Tutoring So Effective?

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While research has clearly shown that tutoring can be a highly effective way of teaching children, the exact reason why this is the case has been challenging to pinpoint.

The main findings of most tutoring studies find that the personalized aspects of a small group or one-on-one tutoring are key.

In smaller settings, tutors can customize their teaching more effectively and tackle the specific learning gaps a student or group of students may have. Furthermore, a more close-knit setting allows tutors to develop a more personal connection with their students.

Lower performing students tend to spend more of their time in classes disengaged due to a lack of confidence. One-on-one and small group tutoring can allow a student to gain confidence in their knowledge - and in asking for help. Furthermore, a closer relationship with an educator can help boost a child's confidence.

Researchers showed that students who participated in intensive math tutoring programs received up to 2.5 years' worth of math education in only one academic year in a study of more than 5,000 ninth and tenth graders in Chicago Public Schools. Students continued to show improvements in math test scores, grade-point averages, and their graduation rates persisted for one to two years after tutoring, according to the research.

But what's even more interesting to note here is that this seems to affect a much more comprehensive range of school subjects, going well beyond math.

Another study, which included two separate randomized control trials, discovered that students continued to display persistent gains in math test scores and GPA up to two years after tutoring. Furthermore, intensive math tutoring had spillover effects across subjects, with students' grades improving in both math and non-math courses.

Tutors were able to complement in-classroom learning and assist students in progressing two to three times quicker than their classmates by delivering tailored education and collaborating closely with teachers and families, according to the report's authors.

They added that, given conventional wisdom and comments by some in the scientific community that it is too difficult or expensive to significantly enhance the academic skills of students who are behind once they reach high school, the findings are extremely encouraging.

It's more difficult to determine scientifically why tutoring appears to accelerate learning to this degree.

However, the entire research community agrees:

In such small groups, teachers may better tailor instruction to specific topic gaps or basic skills that students need to practice. It's also simpler for a student to form a bond with a tutor who meets with them numerous times a week within set hours.

Diagram explain the 4 key components of high dosage tutoring: having tutoring at least 3 times a week, being held by teachers, having 1 or 2 students and being embedded into the school day

Is Remote Personalized Tutoring Effective?

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, for many people, remote tutoring is the only safe option for this, and probably next academic year.

Unfortunately, there has been very little research done regarding if and how face-to-face and remote tutoring change the learning experience for students. Therefore, there is no available diagnostic data, and we cannot form evidence-based opinions that would be helpful to both teachers and children - whether they are high school or university students.

With that said, some of the key differences which have been identified have a lot to do with focus and engagement.

Remote tutoring poses new challenges with building closer relationships with students and ensuring students are paying attention. While there are a number of interactive tools such as online whiteboards which can help a user be more engaged, these are no perfect substitutes for in-person interaction.

For some agencies, the key to tackling this challenge is to retrain tutors. By giving teachers new tools to check understanding and engagement in an online setting, many agencies hope to be able to transfer the merit of high-dosage tutoring online.

Many districts have already started investing in - or planning - academic interventions.

Saga Education's curriculum is classified as "low cost" by the University of Chicago, costing between $3,500 and $4,300 per student per year. According to the researchers, the tutoring approach may be reproduced by hiring recent college graduates, retirees, or others to conduct personalized tutoring, potentially saving schools money.

New state and federal resources will also become available to assist schools in expanding learning loss and recovery programs, such as high-dose tutoring. That brings us to our next point.

How Much Does High-Dosage Tutoring Cost?

While there's extensive research that proves the benefits of high-dosage tutoring, showcasing that it's one of the most effective interventions in education to date, there's still the issue of cost. High-dosage tutoring comes with a higher price tag - especially when it comes to hiring and training tutors.

Some school districts do receive funding for specific interventions - including high-dosage tutoring, among other things - although it's up to the school to decide how they will utilize these resources.

But as we previously hinted, there is another way to lower the costs of high-dosage tutoring - and that's hiring volunteers and paraprofessionals, especially for one-on-one tutoring.

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What Other Factors Impact Tutoring?

online classroom

Studies have found that the quality of tutoring is key to its success. From research, it can be suggested that a successful tutoring session needs to be sustained, repeated regularly - and tutors need to make sure they are coordinating closely with a school day or curriculum.

Repeated contact is also key. In that sense, having more sessions in a week - and during the entire school year - leads to a more successful outcome for students, especially if the primary objective is to compensate for the learning loss.

While students can thrive in an environment where they are taught by more than one tutor, every student needs to regularly see all of these educators. That will give students the ability to make close relationships with all of these tutors and, more importantly, gain a strong and consistent foundation for future learning.

Not only is this sort of evidence-based system necessary to make up for learning losses, but it is also critical for honing students' prerequisite skills required for their future education at University.

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