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?

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