Instruction: Session Structure

Quality Standards

Dosage: The program provides each student with at least three tutoring sessions per week, with ample time (usually a minimum of 30 minutes per session) for students to engage fully with the material. 

Ratio: The ratio of student to tutors in the program is low and does not exceed 4:1. 

Student Grouping: The program strategically groups students by skill level or language need to allow the tutor to deliver relevant instruction to the full group.

Routines + Structures: The program has consistent lesson structure, set instructional routines, and standard procedures to maximize learning. Tutor-specific modifications are intentional and informed by student needs. 

Critical Question
  • How should tutoring sessions be structured to ensure students master the content?
Implementation Checklist
  • Ensure a consistent session structure with space for relationship- building, independent practice time, and formative assessment.
  • Design the tutoring program to meet research-based dosage and ratio guidelines.
  • Structure tutoring sessions to focus on targeted learning goals informed by grade level standards, assessment data, and family and school input.
Implementation Tools

Higher Education Institution (HEI) Specific Tools:

From Existing Resources: 

Key Insights

Maintain a consistent tutoring structure from session to session.

  • While content will change across sessions, session design and flow are most effective when they are consistent.
  • When session structure is routine, tutors will deliver more consistent and effective sessions. Instead of spending prep time internalizing directions and pacing, they can focus on content.
  • When students know what to expect, they can better internalize what is expected of them. Because each session has a consistent rhythm, students will feel safer and more engaged.

Groups students intentionally if tutors work with students in groups.

  • Research suggests that grouping students based on their current skill level may be most effective (Zimmer et al., 2010).
  • It also helps to pair English language learners together, particularly if their tutor speaks their native language. When your roster of bilingual tutors is limited, place them strategically.
  • For students within small-group sessions who have larger skill gaps than other group members, tutors should strive to find one-on-one time with them to provide more personalized support.
  • Depending on the length of the tutoring program, students may need to be re-grouped periodically. Students’ relative skill levels change over time, so grouping students based on skill involves regularly reassessing students’ skill levels and re-grouping them accordingly.
  • Many HEIs partner closely with the school-based staff to determine how to group and regroup students. This provides opportunities for deeper partnerships and allows the HEI students to learn how teachers make these instructional decisions.