Critical Questions

  • What academic content will tutoring sessions focus on? 
  • How should tutoring sessions be structured and facilitated to affirm students’ academic and personal identities, build strong relationships, and ensure students master the content?

Sub Elements

(Click on the links below or visit the pages on the lefthand navigation for more information.)

Session Content Session Structure Session Facilitation Relationship Building

Model Dimensions Review

See Program Design for the full Model Dimensions table or click below to see considerations specific to Instruction.

Delivery Mode

Before implementing best practices to ensure high quality instruction, you need to have clarity on your Delivery Mode, which describes how tutoring is being delivered.

In-Person: Students receive tutoring from a tutor in the same physical location. The most rigorous evidence of impact comes from in-person tutoring programs, and whether virtual and blended tutoring interventions can be as effective as those conducted purely in-person remains an open question. The effectiveness of these alternative delivery modes will likely depend on the student population; for example, younger students appear to have greater difficulty engaging virtually.

Virtual: Students receive tutoring on their computers and other digital devices from a tutor over the internet. Virtual tutoring has the opportunity to provide more equitable access given the wide range of geographical regions that a virtual program can serve. While research on virtual tutoring is limited, a recent small-scale evaluation of an online math tutoring program found promising results.

Blended: Students receive tutoring through some combination of in-person and virtual methods. Research on blended tutoring programs also remains scant; however, a recent evaluation of a tutoring program using a blended approach found that a blended model (i.e., alternating between face-to-face tutoring and students engaging in computer-assisted learning) was equally effective at increasing student learning while reducing the higher financial cost of purely in-person tutoring.

Guidance when considering Delivery Mode

Factor in Delivery Mode when making other decisions about Model Dimensions within your program design.

Target (Age and Subject Area): When making decisions about Delivery Mode, consider both the age level of the students and the subject area. Some students might not be able to navigate the online setting. The effectiveness of the blended setting also depends on the quality of materials that are available, which may differ by subject area or grade level.

Tutor Type: Any decision about delivery mode will impact the talent pool from which a program can recruit tutors. Virtual tutoring typically provides the widest range of options due to the location flexibility of virtual tutoring. Broader recruitment might be particularly useful for more remote geographic areas and for subject areas that require less common skills, such as middle and upper grades math.

Dosage: If the delivery mode is blended, the program can scale back the amount of face-to-face time needed for tutoring by providing targeted online practice to students and useful insights to tutors — assuming they have access to information about their students’ performance on the platform — to help them prepare before each session. 

Learning Integration: If the delivery mode is virtual or blended, the program may require more active participation from stakeholders (families at home or teachers at school) to ensure students attend tutoring sessions and are familiar with how to use the virtual tutoring platform or software.

Setting: If the delivery mode is virtual or blended, the program will need to consider the technological infrastructure available to conduct the tutoring in its chosen setting. If a virtual or blended program takes place in an in-school setting, the program will need to ensure schools have the internet bandwidth needed to run the program and up-to-date devices available. If a virtual program takes place in an out-of-school setting, the program should consider how students without reliable internet connections or up-to-date devices at home will be able to access the virtual tutoring.

Tutor Support: If the delivery mode is virtual, the program can offer creative ways to ensure student safety and tutor accountability. Many virtual platforms can record sessions to be sent to program administrators, as well as track the degree to which the tutor is using key tutoring strategies or software. Many platforms offer the opportunity for tutor coaches or supervisors to drop into sessions, observing tutors and potentially modeling lesson delivery. This type of supervision will be more difficult but still useful in in-person settings where recording sessions is infeasible.

Tutor Training: If the delivery mode is virtual or blended, the program will need to train tutors on how to use the virtual platform and/or software. 

Data Use: If the delivery model is blended, the program should share the software’s data with tutors so that in-person sessions can truly be customized to target each student’s individual academic needs.

Session Facilitation: If the delivery model is virtual, the program can provide wider access to multimedia materials to enable more engaging instruction.

Session Content: If the delivery model is blended, the program can provide additional rigorous materials for students by using high-quality software.