Queen Rania Foundation

One to one tuition

Moderate impact for high cost, based on extensive evidence.

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Evidence indicates that one to one tuition can be effective
Evidence strength
Impact (months)
Effect size

What is it?

One to one tuition involves a teacher, teaching assistant or other adult giving a pupil intensive individual support. It may happen outside of normal lessons as additional teaching – for example as part of Extending school time or a Summer school – or as a replacement for other lessons. 

How effective is it?

Evidence indicates that one to one tuition can be effective, delivering approximately five additional months’ progress on average.

Short, regular sessions (about 30 minutes, three to five times a week) over a set period of time (six to twelve weeks) appear to result in optimum impact. Evidence also suggests tuition should be additional to, but explicitly linked with, normal teaching, and that teachers should monitor progress to ensure the tutoring is beneficial. Studies comparing one to one with small group tuition show mixed results. In some cases one to one tuition has led to greater improvement, while in others tuition in groups of two or three has been equally or even more effective. The variability in findings may suggest it is the particular type or quality of teaching enabled by very small groups that is important, rather than the precise size of the group. 

Programmes involving Teaching assistants or volunteers can have a valuable impact, but tend to be less effective than those using experienced and specifically trained teachers, which have nearly twice the effect on average. Where tuition is delivered by volunteers or teaching assistants there is evidence that training and the use of a structured programme is advisable.

Evidence of one to one tuition in the Arab world is very limited. Studies that looked at private tutoring explored the reasons why students use this intervention rather than the impacts on academic attainment. In Morocco, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt students strongly believed that one to one tutoring is an intervention to improve their knowledge about a topic and improve their academic grades.

While the global evidence includes interventions in which public schools deliver intensive support to struggling pupils at no extra cost, evidence in the Arab World focuses much more on private tutoring. In one study in Egypt, researchers have raised concerns that the monetary reward for providing private one to one or small group tutoring creates a perverse incentive for teachers to encourage students to turn to private tutoring; and that this could lead to the deterioration of the public education quality. They highlighted a need for educational reform that would reconsider teachers’ wages, the curriculum, assessment tools and increase the transparency between schools/teachers and parents.

To date, research on one to one tuition is scarce in this region despite the reported benefits on students understanding of key subjects. More research is needed in this area to examine the impact of this intervention on students’ academic grades. More quantitative or mixed-method studies are also needed to have an overall understanding about this phenomenon from parents,, students, and teachers side.

How secure is the evidence?

Overall, the evidence is consistent and strong, particularly for younger learners who are behind their peers in primary schools, and for subjects like reading and mathematics (there are fewer studies at secondary level or for other subjects). Effects on pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds also tend to be particularly positive. 

For full references, please click here

What are the costs?

A typical effective programme might involve 30 minutes tuition, five times a week, for 12 weeks. This would require about four full days of a teacher’s time, which is estimated to cost approximately 700.0 GBP (900.5 USD, 638.4 JOD) per pupil. These costs would be reduced by using a teaching assistant to deliver the programme, but the evidence suggests that impacts are generally higher when delivered by teachers. Overall the cost is rated as high.

There is some evidence that small group tuition can deliver similar benefits at a lower cost.

Costs originally calculated in GBP; USD and JOD calculated via oanda.com on 22/09/20.

As yet there is no information about local costs.

What should I consider?

One to one tuition is very effective in helping learners catch up, but is relatively expensive. Have you considered using Small group tuition instead and evaluating the impact? 

Tuition is more likely to make an impact if it is additional to and explicitly linked with normal lessons. 

Have you considered how you will support pupils and regular class teachers to ensure the impact is sustained once they return to normal classes?

For one to one tuition led by teaching assistants, interventions are likely to be particularly beneficial when the teaching assistants are experienced and well-trained. What training and support have you provided?

A number of one to one programmes delivered by teaching assistants have been rigorously evaluated and shown to be effective. If you are buying a programme, have you considered one of these? 

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