While reports have shown that many students, educators and parents struggled through COVID-19, the true impact of the pandemic is unlikely to be known for many years.
However, some studies have unearthed some surprising findings about how students felt during their remote learning experience.
For example, while some students experienced difficulties learning at home before the pandemic, these same students thrived during at-home learning when schools were locked down early last year.
Cluey’s Chief Learning Officer, Dr Selina Samuels, said the company’s surveys in May 2020, found that many students enjoyed learning online.
However, she pointed out that where this learning is largely asynchronous, students miss the direct interaction with their teachers and peers and the opportunity for timely and constructive feedback.
“Online personalised learning should have a large synchronous component that emphasises interaction between students and their teachers,” Dr Samuels told The Educator.
“Rather than translating a lesson-based teaching model from the classroom to an online environment, we find that students are most responsive when they have the opportunity to learn at their own pace and have their questions answered”.
Dr Samuels said that for the online learning environment provides “unparalleled opportunities” to match each student with one of Cluey’s 790+ tutors, irrespective of where student or tutor are located.
“That ability to match student and teacher is a great way to honour the individual learning needs of every student”.
Personalised learning: Online vs in-person
Dr Samuels said the need to cover specific curriculum requirements often dominates at the expense of the individual learner.
“With that in mind and with the benefit of our extensive experience in the classroom, Cluey’s programs are both fully mapped to the curriculum and designed to adapt to the needs of each student,” she said.
“The benefits children derive from personalised learning – the kind that acknowledges their individual needs – go beyond their academic achievements and are likely to positively impact their confidence and approach to learning far beyond school”.
Below, Dr Samuels shares 5 key benefits of personalised learning:
1. Improved confidence
Confidence is a mindset. It’s about looking at every situation as an opportunity to learn and improve. It’s about knowing that you’ve “got this,” but not feeling downhearted or discouraged if you don’t. When kids struggle with their studies, their confidence is one of the first things to take a hit. A lack of confidence can then extend far beyond the classroom and impact other areas of a child’s life.
Sometimes to help a child regain confidence, parents need to look beyond the household and school setting. There is a real value in adults – beyond parents and teachers – providing kids with the encouragement and support they need to grow.
Dr Samuels believes that when it comes to learning, it’s the partnership and alliance that kids have with their tutor that really builds their confidence. “We know children are often too nervous to put their hand up in class to admit they don’t know something in front of their peers,” she says. It’s important to find a safe space where kids feel comfortable to ask questions or admit they don’t know something without being judged.”
Many Australian children experienced remote learning last year — and that impacted many children’s confidence and their feelings about their learning progress and the return to the classroom. Personalised tutoring can help them consolidate the skills they may be lacking after a disruption to learning and ensure that they feel prepared to tackle regular school life once again.
2. Self-advocacy and communication skills
Sometimes children find the content they are learning confusing but have trouble pinpointing what is actually tripping them up. One-to-one support from a tutor can give a child the focus they need to better understand their own individual needs and development areas.
Armed with this, children feel that they not only have the power to speak up about an area they are struggling with, but they also have confidence that they will eventually conquer it.
Dr Samuels explains, “Educators call this ability to understand and explain one’s own learning ‘metacognition’ and it is a hugely important factor in learning how to learn. Giving students the skills to speak objectively about themselves as learners is a great way to build their independence and confidence. It is, essentially, giving them the skills to solve their own problems in the future.”
3. Play to their strengths
Tutoring isn't just for students struggling with a subject. It can be just as beneficial for those excelling in a subject. If your child shows a particular interest or strength in a subject, or if they’re getting bored at school because they find it too easy, don’t ignore the opportunity!
Just like how athletes use a coach to hone their skills, a tutor can help a student who’s already performing really well in school to reach for more ambitious goals. Tutors can offer more advanced content and greater insights than what may be taught in the classroom, giving students the opportunity to extend and deepen their understanding. Tending to those strengths could lead to scholarships, university course opportunities and exciting career paths, not to mention a greater love of learning.
“One-to-one tutoring gives ambitious students the chance to really sink their teeth into a subject and go beyond what their classmates might be capable of. In turn, this tends to activate their intellectual curiosity so that they approach all learning with greater interest and capacity for deep thought,” says Dr Samuels.
4. Catching up before important education milestones
Whilst tutoring is about so much more than end-of-year assessments, exam stress is real. A 2020 study conducted by Cluey Learning showed 80% of senior students experience ATAR anxiety. That stress can get in the way of students successfully catching up and preparing for an exam. A tutor can help your child identify and focus on areas that need improvement, give them practice and feedback, and develop an actionable plan that will enable them to face their impending exams with more confidence.
5. Finding joy in learning
It’s no secret kids learn more effectively when they’re having fun. Because a tutor has more time to develop a rapport with their student and get to learn what engages them as an individual, they can tailor their sessions to make the delivery of curriculum content fun.
The joy of learning comes when a student starts to really ‘get’ a concept they previously struggled with and feels a sense of personal achievement. It can also be experienced when a student feels a connection or develops a personal identification with a text or concept. Children have a natural curiosity, but sometimes the dynamic of the classroom, with its social complexity, can curb it. Personalised tutoring is a great way to nurture and build children's innate curiosity, so they thrive and actually enjoy learning rather than just going through the motions.
Dr Samuels concludes: “We have all - or I hope we have all - experienced that wonderful moment when a concept that has seemed so difficult suddenly makes sense. Tutoring is all about helping students have those a-ha moments that mean they identify learning with feelings of happiness and confidence. If they find joy in learning, they will continue to be enthusiastic learners, which will help them to be happy and fulfilled for the rest of their lives.”