A teacher’s first instinct when students fall behind is to look towards tutoring to help students catch up. This is a great solution when done correctly.
Sometimes tutors aid students with homework questions and end up doing most of the work as they explain the topic, instead of the student. This can be more harmful than helpful to a child’s education as they’re missing out on a key learning opportunity.
Here are a few key differences between tutoring and homework help.
Homework help is just what it sounds like, when someone walks through a student’s homework with them providing support when needed. Students may seek out help from a tutor, parent, teacher, older student, or an on-demand online program. This is usually casual and not consistent. Many schools utilize on-demand homework help programs for their students. However, these programs are falling short, especially for younger students.
On-demand homework programs create an accessible way for students to get help by pairing students with an online tutor to help with a specific problem in an online format. Students and tutors work together to solve a specific problem or worksheet, but often don’t create long-term learning plans or uncover where the student is struggling.
While this may work for some students, on-demand homework help is underutilized by students who genuinely need it. The responsibility is left on the student to log into the website at home, admit they need help and ask questions to someone they have no prior relationship with.
A 2021 study done in a California charter school showed that higher achieving students were more likely to use a homework-help service than students who received a D or F the prior semester. A key takeaway from the study was that simply telling students about the program was not enough to get them to use it.
So who can benefit from homework help?
Students who do not need fundamental learning help and that are self-motivated enough to log onto the program can benefit the best from on-demand homework help. Homework help is just a small aspect of tutoring as it aids with worksheets but doesn’t target deeper, more fundamental learning challenges.
High-dosage tutoring helps students with consistent support over a longer period of time. It was found most beneficial for high-dosage tutoring to occur 3 times a week or 50 hours over a 4 month period or longer. High-dosage tutors build foundational skills that align with the student’s classroom curriculum.
Education economist Susanna Loeb says, “While all tutoring is helpful, students who need the most help are more likely to benefit from tutoring offered during the school day, in a format where they don’t have to opt-in.”
What’s unique about high-dosage tutoring is that it often occurs during the school day and is set up by teachers. There is no pressure or expectation on the student to log on after school hours. Through integrating tutoring into a student’s school day, it creates an environment where students can be focused and present.
High dosage tutoring works by being able to establish a culture that sets high expectations for students while still caring about their well-being. One meta-analysis found that “high-dosage tutoring was 20 times more effective than low-dosage tutoring in math. In reading, high-dosage tutoring was 15 times more effective than low-dosage tutoring.”
At the end of the day, all tutoring is beneficial and aids student success. But if your school district is looking for an accessible and individualized tutoring option, we strongly recommend considering high-dosage tutoring programs over homework help.
About Intervene K-12
Intervene K-12 provides high-impact, high-dosage tutoring within the classroom set up by teachers, not students. We help administrators develop teachers. We help teachers grow students. We motivate students and help them find and celebrate success.