Accelerating Student Learning with High-Dosage Tutoring

Matthew Kraft | Brown University
Beth Schueler | University of Virginia
Susanna Loeb | Brown University
Carly Robinson | Brown University

Design Principles for Effective Tutoring at a Glance

Tutoring is most likely to be effective when delivered in high doses through tutoring programs with three or more sessions per week or intensive, week-long, small-group programs taught by talented teachers.

Group Size
Tutors can effectively instruct up to three or four students at a time. However, moving beyond this number can quickly become small group instruction, which is less personalized and requires a higher degree of skill to do well. 1-on-1 tutoring is likely most effective but also more costly.

Because the skills required for tutoring are different from the skills required for effective classroom teaching, a wide variety of tutors (including volunteers and college students) can successfully improve student outcomes, if they receive adequate training and ongoing support.

Researchers have found tutoring to be effective at all grade levels—even for high school students who have fallen quite far behind. The evidence is strongest, with the most research available, for reading-focused tutoring for students in early grades (particularly grades K-2) and for mathfocused tutoring for older students.

Tutoring programs that support data use and ongoing informal assessments allow tutors to more effectively tailor their instruction for individual students.

Ensuring students have a consistent tutor over time may facilitate positive tutor-student relationships and a stronger understanding of students’ learning needs.

Using high-quality instructional materials that are aligned with classroom content allows tutors to reinforce and support teachers’ classroom instruction.

Tutoring interventions that are conducted during the school day tend to result in greater learning gains than those that are after-school or during the summer.

Delivery Mode
Most research has focused on in-person tutoring, but there is emerging evidence that tutoring can be effective when delivered at a distance.

Programs that target lower-performing students can support those students who most need personalized instruction but can also create a negative stigma where tutoring is perceived as a punishment. Programs that target all students in a lower-performing grade level or school benefit from broader organizational commitment and the perception that tutoring is for everyone but are more costly.