Pedagogical Effectiveness of Online 1-to-1 Tutoring

By: Prashant Yadav

The basic pedagogical process can be defined as a systematic transfer of knowledge and / or skills from an instructor to a learner. Depending upon the basic objectives of the process, the transfer may be limited to cognition of facts or may be extended to application and extension of facts, their inter-linkages and derivative concepts.

Since the important players in this interaction are the instructor and the learner, the important determinants of the effectiveness of the process should include the instructor centric parameters, the learner centric parameters and the transaction centric parameters.

Instructor Centric Parameters

Instructor centric parameters revolve around the instructor's ability to effectively transfer the skills / knowledge and ignite the curiosity and motivation of the learner to explore the area through active thinking and alternative knowledge sources.
a)Level of the target knowledge / skill with the instructor
b)Level of transaction skill of the instructor
a.Ability to engage
b.Ability to motivate
c.Ability to transfer the knowledge / skill
d.Ability to activate the curiosity of the learner
e.Ability to answer related questions
f.Ability to positively handle unrelated queries
c) Motivation level of the instructor

The level of target knowledge is to a great extent determined by academic achievements of the instructor. To ensure adequate target knowledge, it is important to not only go by the academic qualifications possessed by the instructor but also testing his actual level of knowledge through independent testing.

Transaction skills of the instructor depend upon the awareness of the learning process possessed by the instructor and his aptitude for teaching. A University degree in education provides adequate understanding of the learning process to the instructor. However, it is important to actually test the teaching aptitude of the instructor.

Motivation level of the instructor determines his level of proactive effort in ensuring effective learning. This depends upon the career goals of the instructor, his basic personality and behavioral traits. It is important to ensure that a sound synchrony exists between career objectives and opportunity and progression, the teaching profession provides.

Learner Centric Parameters

Learner centric factors determine the learner's ability to grasp the target knowledge set in isolation as well as in the context of related concepts. This includes:
a)Level of the pre-requisite knowledge and skills
b)Level of inherent aptitude for the specific knowledge set
c)Level of inquisitiveness
d)Ability to process, analyze and link new information with what already possessed

Together, these factors determine the learning speed.

Several behavioral characteristics of the learner also impact the learning outcome. The ability to concentrate and stay focused, the ability to work in a sustained manner towards a target outcome are major behavioral parameters constituting the 'learning personality' of the learner which greatly impacts the learning achieved.

An important distinction between instructor centric and learner centric parameters is that while instructors can be subjected to a selection process to ensure the right ingredients, there can be no such selection process for learners. Anybody with an intent to learn qualifies as a learner and hence, the set of learner comes with an extremely wide spectrum of learner characteristics.

Thus on one hand, we have students with fast learning speeds and extremely conducive learning personalities ('Bright students') and on the other, we have students with below average learning speeds and obstructive learning personalities.

It is important to note here that there should absolutely be no value judgement attached to the varying levels of learning characteristics of the students. It is absolutely nobody's case that bright students have more right to learn than the relatively slower ones.

Thus, it becomes imperative for the learning transaction to cater to and compensate for the differences in the individual learning characteristics of students.

Transaction Centric Parameters

This is the third important set related to the effectiveness of the teacher-taught interaction.

Transaction effectiveness is primarily determined by the ability of the learning process to:
a)cater to and compensate for the wide variation in students' learning characteristics
b)facilitate continuous evaluation and feedback from teacher to students
c)generate positive and negative reactions in response to the positive and negative learning achievements
d)facilitate free communication from student to the teacher regarding query resolution and intimation of any learning help required.
e)two way communication and interaction between teacher and student

Learning outcome of any learning oriented transaction depends upon the right synergy between the three major kinds of factors impacting the learning process

Traditional Classroom & Online 1-1: Competitors or Comrades

Traditional classroom setting where a single instructor communicates with a group of students of the roughly the same age, knowledge and skill level has been by far the most popular mechanism of organized instruction. This is in no small measure due to resource effectiveness inherent in the approach.

However, since the learning characteristics of students in a seemingly coherent group vary significantly and classroom instruction inherently being a group learning activity it settles down to cater to the most populous sub-section within a group of students. This means a classroom instruction fundamentally caters to the median of students with learning characteristics lying at the center of the curve. In other words, it catres to the learning speed of an average student thereby leaving the students with learning characteristics at either extremes, stranded.

Thus, while the slow learner may feel confused and puzzled, the fast learner becomes frustrated because teaching is at the speed of an average learner. This has been the most significant drawback of otherwise cost effective and relatively effective classroom instruction.

Personalized online tutoring helps remove this weakness out of the classroom setting by providing supplemental learning at the individual learner's speed. Thus the slow learner has an option to go slow, imbibing everything at his pace, the fast learner can quickly cover topics and move on thus satisfying and igniting his heightened interest level.

Done in tandem with classroom instruction, proper one-on-on online instruction creates the ideal learning setting for each individual student.


Personalized one-on-one online tutoring mixes individual instruction with technology to make it cost effective by utilizing the services of qualified instructors in those parts of the world where there is a surplus. Combined with traditional classroom instruction, it offers a complete learning setup for students all across the learning spectrum.

The concept is exciting and a lot depends on pedagogical processes of the online tuition provider. It is therefore, important to choose your online tutoring provider with care.

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