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Online vs Face-to-Face Tutoring

The pandemic had compelled schools and universities to switch to online learning with many after-school tutoring clubs also delivering tuition over the internet. Now that schools have re-opened and returned to face-to-face teaching, some tutors and tuition centres have opted to continue to provide tuition online rather than return to the classroom. While this may help to reduce the costs of centres and travel time for tutors, is it effective for children and money well spent for parents? 

Who Can Benefit from Online Tutoring?

Evidence suggests that older and more mature students, particularly A-Level and university students, can benefit from online tuition, even in groups and larger class sizes. This is due to their maturity and motivation which keeps their engagement and attention since these students will be characterised by ambition through their own choice to pursue A-Levels and university to achieve their career objectives.


What about Primary and Secondary School Children?

Year 11 and below require more supervision and easily become distracted with attention spans progressively becoming shorter further down the years. In a school classroom, teachers have a challenge in keeping all children engaged through constant prodding due to the larger numbers which leads to a good number of children falling behind. When the class is moved online with children sitting many miles away from the teacher in their own homes, then this challenge is multiplied as teachers are not able to gauge all students’ level of engagement and constantly prod them effectively enough even with cameras being turned on.

Although there may be a slight improvement for offering online tuition to groups of students online compared to the larger school classes online, the overall effectiveness of online tuition for school children compared to face-to-face tuition is drastically reduced for the same reasons. And as the group numbers swell beyond two, the effectiveness is further reduced.

As parents are privately paying for tuition, they need to evaluate the return on their money spent vs free online resources (listed at the end) which students can use with the help of parents or older brothers and sisters, and consider moving them to a face-to-face tutoring environment.


When Online Tuition May Work for School Children

Evidence from tutors shows that when school children are receiving one-to-one tuition online, then the tutor can focus solely on that one student and is able to keep the child constantly engaged in the lesson as there is no pause with the tutor having to juggle between multiple children. However, tutors have observed that even in a one-to-one online tuition, an important aspect of tutoring which ensures the presence of important success factors such as the student’s confidence, motivation, level of engagement and rapport are simply easier to implement in face-to-face tutoring. In the words of one teacher:


‘When I teach, I am watching and sensing students’ non-verbal feedback about how they are finding the task/activities. This includes posture, facial expression, tone of voice and how tense they seem to be physically. I think this would be more difficult on-line’.

In conclusion, online tutoring has shown to be more effective for older and more mature students and can offer some benefit in a one-to-one setting with younger students while its effectiveness is greatly reduced, especially when attempting to tuition groups of students together online.

Try these free Resources with your children during lockdowns and to supplement their learning at schools and at The Tutor Centre: