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Evidence for the Power of Tutoring

The incredible power of tutoring is shown clearly in Bloom’s 2-Sigma Problem

Benjamin Bloom, also famous for Bloom’s Taxonomy, randomly selected three cohorts of students to be taught in three very different ways: conventional classroom, mastery classroom (same as conventional, but with reinforcement) and direct instruction (tutoring).

The results were remarkable:

Conventional I Mastery I Tutoring

Top Grades 20% I 70% I 90%

Time on Task 65% I 75% I 90+%

Attitudes and interest Least Positive ———— Most Positive

According to Bloom himself, this is the most striking result:

“The tutoring process demonstrates that most of the students do have the potential to reach this high level of learning.”

Then Bloom goes on to say that:

“The tutoring process demonstrates that most of the students do have the potential to reach this high level of learning.”

I find this totally mind-blowing. 

If it’s possible with tutoring for students to achieve so well, why isn’t the system built around tutoring?!

Bloom takes a different turn in his paper then, saying:

“One-to-one tutoring is too costly for most societies to bear on a large scale.”

And so I ask, in my characteristically naive and idealistic fashion:

Once you know how powerful tutoring is, and how much untapped potential sits in our classrooms, can we afford not to tutor?

Julia Silver
Passionate about unlocking learning, Julia launched Qualified Tutor to enable tutors to improve outcomes for all our students. Julia is Senior Leader in a primary school in London, has been tutoring for fifteen years and has children ranging in age from 4 to 14.