Tutoring vs. Teaching, What’s the Difference?

What distinguishes tutoring from teaching, and how do students’ experiences of the two differ? Read the article below to learn more.

Masterclass English College is an English tutor in Sydney’s North Shore, dedicated to providing high quality English tutoring for students for the past 20 years. 

Tutors have undoubtedly taught a good amount of students and used tutoring techniques in the classroom. Despite the clear overlaps, we continue to be convinced of the basic distinctions between teaching and tutoring as well as the importance of both strategies for every student’s learning process.

In the context of this debate, we use the word “teaching” to refer to the classroom model, in which a teacher instructs a group of students who are primarily classified by age. Working with a student one-on-one or in a small group is referred to as “tutoring,” and the goal is to make learning as individualised and adaptable as possible. 

That’s not to say that personalisation or differentiation in the classroom doesn’t exist. The nature of the student/educator engagement and how it affects student learning is the key to differentiating the two approaches.

In addition to the apparent structural variations between a tutoring class with one or a small group of students and a classroom of 25 to 30 students, the objectives of the interaction are also different. 

After all, going to school is required by law for children younger than 15, whereas tutoring is an optional activity that is purely based on the needs of the student. Although academic goals and standards for the class are likely to be defined by the school and the state, both teachers and tutors concentrate on the curriculum. 

There is a competitive framework built into the classroom model, regardless of how supportive the surroundings and teacher may be. We frequently learn that students hire tutors because they are ashamed to ask questions in front of their classmates during class. Given how frequently this issue is made, it is more a function of how the classroom model of education functions than it is the fault of particular instructors or schools.

The goal of tutoring is to offer the individualised academic support that each student needs, hence flexibility and individualisation are key components of the tutoring process. Regardless of how student-centric a school’s paedagogy may be, tutoring is always and always will be. 

Since a teacher has a different relationship with each student in their class than a tutor does with a student, this implies that the tutor-student relationship is distinct. Tutors often follow the student’s lead, modify the pace of the lesson, check for understanding frequently, and offer (and accept) feedback. 

It’s a very involved process, and one of my best tools is active listening. Many teachers feel that they must divide their attention between the needs of the group and the needs of each individual member of the group. However, some schools adopt methodologies that allocate time and space in the schedule to enable these regular one-on-one interactions. 

According to a recent study, it is extremely difficult for the majority of instructors to devote enough time to meeting the needs of the individual students in their classes due to a plethora of administrative requirements and big class numbers. Additionally, teachers may be forced to teach across five or more curriculum grades in a single classroom due to the huge range in the current levels of students.

Tutoring, of course, does not involve the same pressure. And because of this, not only can the tutor devote the time required to meet the needs of the student—whether they be to catch up, maintain up, or excel—but the relationship between the student and the tutor is also fundamentally different from that between the student and the teacher. 

In addition to providing direct instruction and evaluation, the tutor also acts as the student’s coach or mentor. They are aware of the difficulties their students face and are able to modify their explanations and assignments to reach that perfect balance of difficulty and prior knowledge that allows students to embed and develop their skills. 

It is not surprising that one-on-one tutoring, peer tutoring, and small group instruction are identified as highly effective strategies in the Education Endowment Foundation’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit, which summarises the global evidence base to identify the most effective approaches to improve learning outcomes.

One of the primary reasons tutoring is such an (increasingly) significant part of modern education is that receiving tutoring is not the same as receiving instruction in a classroom. 

The pressures in the classroom rise along with our expectations for education and our capacity to collect crucial learning data, which can have a detrimental effect on student learning (not to mention instructors’ job happiness). 

In order to counteract learning loss caused by COVID, some state governments in Australia introduced tutoring into the classroom. And for this reason, whether their children need remediation, a focus on particular learning needs, or extension, so many families go for tutoring for their kids. 

It is time to discuss how teachers and tutors may collaborate more effectively, create a hybrid learning model, and take use of the contrasts between these two learning philosophies for the benefit of all students.

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