In Singapore, parents perceive tuition as a “safety net” according to Jack Loo, Nexus Link chief methodologist. Last year, the Straits Times reported that 7 out of 10 parents in Singapore opt for tuition for their children to increase their chances of success in today’s competitive environment. As much as the education sector benefits from this trend, it puts considerable pressure on tutors, who struggle to cope with the rising demands of parents wishing to see quick results.
There is plenty of help material available for instructors in the form of study guides, online tutorials and courses. However, improvement might be observed in the student’s performance if more attention was paid to the structure of tuition assignments.
Here are a couple of ways you could rethink the purpose of the tuition assignments you hand out to your pupils. Not only will this reconsideration be advantageous to your students but it will also make their strengths and weaknesses clearer to you.
1. Optimizing format
Every pupil is different so the same formula will not work for all of them. Giordano & Rochford in a 2005 study reported that matching a student’s learning method and teaching style positively influences their grades. A convenient method to gauge their responses to various types of questions would be to conduct a proper test. This would include all the conventional kinds of formats like multiple choices, short Q/A, essays, research projects, critical thinking, etc.
Once you possess a better idea of what works for who you will be able to make tuition assignments that they are comfortable with. Meanwhile, you could add a question or two having a format out of their comfort zone. Gradually, they will overcome their inhibitions and do well on all assignment formats.
2. Learning aids
Not all students are bookworms so you need to build a new strategy for reference material related to tuition assignments. Look for relevant video and audio files or website links, which your students can readily access. In doing so, they will not lose interest simply because they relate books with boredom. Dan Meyer, a teacher and blogger, explained to Edutopia how images and videos improved Math lessons for him and his class.
3. Difficulty level
Rather than instantly testing your pupil with the expected level of difficulty they should be able to handle, try to learn what level they are currently operating at. You can then proceed by making tuition assignments increasingly difficult with time. This is how your student will grasp concepts better and grow to reach the expected level.
4. Fun challenges
The ultimate way to spark interest in your students is to try something different from what you’d normally do. Tuition assignments that revolve around something they can relate to help them understand relevant concepts better. For instance, problem solving in Math could address issues they face on a daily basis. You could also handout tuition assignments that require practical steps so they can see how their studies apply to real life. Judy Willis is a prominent neurologist and educator book who explained the relation of enjoyment and learning in her book titled “Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher”.
5. Reward system
Encouraging your pupils with a point system is a brilliant way to motivate them. Since they are aware of the rewards they can attain from doing well, it will spur them to enhance their performance. You could allot certain points for each tuition assignment so they strive to achieve a good grade on it. Discover what would be an enticing reward for your particular group of students. It’s quite simple from there on.
“Nine tenths of education is encouragement.”
6. Time tagging
You need to calculate the work load that your students are already managing due to school and extracurricular activities. After obtaining a good idea of how much more you can assign them without overburdening them, you can draft a realistic time schedule. The deadlines for tuition assignments should be fair depending on their nature and complexity.
7. Prepare them
Instead of asking your pupils to read the first few pages of the next chapter you plan to tackle, use tuition assignments to make their minds ready for it. A wise method to turn their interest towards the new topic would be to give them a small assignment about it. This doesn’t have to be about the major concepts since they haven’t studied it yet. Let it be related to a case study or historical event/ figure. This will perk their interest and prepare them for the next lesson.
After you have adjusted your tuition assignments to incorporate these important considerations, you will notice a positive difference in your pupil’s grades. You will find that the extent of their engagement with the subject is greater too.