Why Group Size Matters in Math Tuition​

April 01, 2019

Why Group Size Matters in Math Tuition​

Many years ago when I was studying in one of Singapore’s top secondary schools in Singapore, Mathematics used to be my problem subject and I remember going for tuition class in the bid to improve my grades. Unfortunately, I benefited little from tuition there. With so many students per session, the tutor had little time to coach each of us individually and I always left the class as clueless as before. After a while, my mum found me another private tutor who only coached a maximum of three students per session; I went on to ace my ‘O’ Level Math and the rest is history. Fast forward to the present and I guess small-group tuition continues to be the preference for many parents and students after all these years.

Small group tuition is defined as one teacher or professional educator working with two, three, four, or five pupils. This arrangement enables the teacher to focus exclusively on a small number of learners, usually on their own in a separate classroom or working area. Intensive tuition in small groups is often provided to support lower attaining learners or those who are falling behind, but it can also be used as a more general strategy to ensure effective progress, or to teach challenging topics or skills. The followings are 4 benefits of small group learning.

1. Flexible Learning
One advantage of small group learning is that time can more flexibly be allocated to where it is needed. If one or two children are struggling with a concept, then it is likely worth the entire group working a bit harder on said topic, or failing that, it can be easier to monitor the rest of the students whilst taking one student to the side for individual attention.

2. Inspiring Confidence
Often when pupils don’t participate in large group discussions, it can be an issue of self belief, rather than the assumed laziness. However, in smaller groups, the informal atmosphere can often allow tutors to bring all students into the conversation, giving them the encouragement they need to participate.

3. People can be Patient
In the world of 30 child classrooms and constant testing, if one child needs a bit of extra attention on a particular topic, this can often slip through the cracks. This is not the fault of teachers, but merely a reality of the current education system. However, in small group settings, tutors and teachers are much more likely to be able to deviate from a less rigid plan and allow kids to develop at their own pace.

4. Small Groups can Build Team Working Skills.
The more intimate environment of a small learning group is also great for building teamwork skills. Whilst students may sink into the background or get distracted in large settings, a small, tight knit team working towards the same problem or project places a child in a situation where they have to be socially active, bringing both educational and social progress forward at the same time.

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