Schools, families, and students have long turned to tutors when learners fall behind or need to get ahead. Now that tutoring is being hailed as a way to address unfinished learning caused by the pandemic, however, it’s starting to make headlines as a promising—and realistic—solution for schools and districts.
With this new attention, administrators may be considering an array of tutoring interventions for their students to help with learning recovery. But while it’s great to have options, it’s also important to recognize that not every type of tutoring meets the same need, and not every tutoring model yields the same results.
Learn more about the single most effective learning recovery intervention in our guide to high-dosage tutoring.
Programs that purport to provide tutoring often do little more than offer homework help. To be clear, homework help can be a valuable service. It can’t, however, provide the combination of remediation, new learning, and personalized attention that students get from ongoing tutoring with a qualified, dedicated tutor. In this blog, we’ll dive into the differences between them.
Homework help is exactly that: help with homework. With homework help, an experienced individual provides support to a student so they can complete a specific assignment or review a specific concept.
Students may look for homework help themselves or be encouraged to seek it out by a teacher or family member. Homework help is often fairly casual; it can be provided by a teacher, a family member, a peer or older student, a community volunteer, or a professional tutor.
Online tutoring platforms also frequently provide homework help. This type of support is usually offered as an on-demand service, where learners can find a one-time tutor to help them as needed.
Homework help is for students struggling with a concept or skill they’re working on in class, often as part of a specific assignment. These one-off sessions provide help when students are stuck, so they can move forward in the school year with the background they need.
For example, a student who isn’t sure how to start an essay about a novel might seek out homework help to discuss their topic idea, work on a thesis statement, or review their introduction paragraph. They could return as they progress through the essay, or they might be comfortable enough to proceed on their own.
This student probably already has a grasp on fundamental reading and writing skills, including how to write an essay. Homework help might help them make more complex arguments or deepen their analysis, but the student doesn’t need ongoing support in order to progress in class.
Struggling with a specific concept or task is normal, and it’s important for students to get help when they need it. Even if they’re generally doing fine in a class, moving forward without addressing these issues can contribute to learning gaps that become blockers to future learning.
Tutoring is academic support that occurs regularly over time, and it’s designed to address past learning gaps as well as current concepts from class. While this often includes help with specific assignments, tutoring goes beyond homework help in some important ways.
Tutoring provides a deeper and more involved level of academic support so students can learn or relearn fundamental concepts and skills that they might be missing. By focusing on addressing learning gaps, not just completing specific tasks and assignments, students can make sure they stay on track for grade-level learning.
The other major distinction between tutoring and homework help is consistency. The most effective tutoring interventions match a student with a dedicated tutor who works with them regularly over a longer period of time, like an academic term or a year. Along with subject-matter expertise, these tutors also have specific training or experience with pedagogy, or how to teach the material effectively.
Tutoring is for students who might be constantly struggling with a subject, failing a class, or otherwise demonstrating that they aren’t meeting grade-level standards.
While homework help can support a student who isn’t sure how to start their essay, tutoring is for a student who can’t analyze a text to identify its theme, or who doesn’t understand the components of an academic essay.
In this case, a tutor might work with the student over the course of a semester on skills like identifying thematic elements in a text and outlining effective paragraphs, while also helping them apply these concepts to writing an essay due for class. The tutor might also focus on building understanding in other relevant areas, like analyzing for tone and mood, as well as overall study skills, like using highlighters and taking notes while reading.
Tutoring fosters an ongoing learning relationship that helps students address learning gaps involving fundamental skills and concepts—a function essential to supporting pandemic learning recovery and for learning that goes beyond finishing an assignment or passing a test.
If your school or district is exploring tutoring interventions for unfinished learning, consider whether your students need homework help to stay on top of their classwork, or if they need tutoring to close learning gaps and build the skills required for grade-level learning.
Remind Tutoring for Schools and Districts provides high-dosage tutoring for your entire community by matching students with an experienced tutor for virtual one-on-one sessions. Contact us to learn more about offering Remind Tutoring to your community.