The Most Impactful Form of Tutoring
Written by Mark McCourt Tuesday, 28 June 2022
There has always been inequality in education. A cohort of pupils has always had the enormous advantage of a personalised, supplementary education designed to give them the best possible chances in life and the best possible tools to be effective in their classroom learning. Approximately one-quarter of pupils in the UK have a private tutor, employed at significant cost by their parents to bolster their learning and ensure they succeed.
At Complete Mathematics we believe it is unacceptable that one group of pupils should be given such an advantage over the majority. We believe that every single pupil, regardless of background, can learn well and has the potential to succeed. We believe that every single pupil has the right to the highest quality schooling and highest quality supplementary education.
The problem has worsened in recent years, with schools taking action to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The most advantaged have continued without interruption whilst the rest have been unable to access additional education. Meanwhile, parents everywhere repeatedly confirm their desire for their children to also have access to additional private tutoring, but the financial barriers have made it impossible.
At Complete Mathematics, we are on a moral mission to bring this inequality to an end.
That is why we developed
We campaigned relentlessly for a well thought out, serious solution to the problem – one that would make one-to-one tutoring available to all pupils regardless of their ability to pay. But government was not able to do this.
At Complete Mathematics, we take the problem seriously. We have created a highly impactful, proven solution for all pupils. We have removed all barriers to access.
We wanted to go beyond the effectiveness of private tutors, beyond the effectiveness of classroom teaching, beyond the effectiveness of the learning platforms, homework platforms and other Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) platforms that are so commonly deployed today.
Drawing on the very best evidence, we brought together a large team of mathematics education experts, learning design experts, curriculum experts, technology experts, and teachers, pupils and parents to create an Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS).
Intelligent Tutoring Systems are known to be the most impactful form of supplementary education. It may feel slightly counterintuitive, but ITSs have been repeatedly shown to be even more effective than one-to-one human tutoring.
An Intelligent tutoring system (ITS) is a computer system that provides immediate and customised instruction or feedback to pupils, enabling learning in a meaningful and highly effective manner.
Complete Mathematics is not a resource, it is not a homework platform or an online learning application. Complete Mathematics is an approach to tutoring – it is the provision of the highest quality, research informed, expert teaching to all pupils. It is the most effective approach to mathematics tutoring and is easily and affordably deployable to every single pupil in your school or college. It is tutoring for every pupil, from the youngest to the eldest, from the most confident to the least. The highly personalised approach will take all pupils from where they are currently secure to the highest levels of success.
An ITS brings all the demonstrated benefits of one-to-one, personalised tutoring, in contexts where pupils would otherwise only have access to one-to-many instruction from a single teacher (e.g., classroom lectures), or no teacher at all (e.g., online homework). And it goes way beyond those benefits to exceed the impact of a normal tutor.
is designed with the goal of providing access to high quality education to every pupil.
Numerous studies have measured the overall effectiveness of ITS, often by comparisons of ITS to human tutors.
Studies find that ITS pupils outperform pupils taught by a classroom teacher on standardised test problems and real-world problem-solving tasks and that these results are particularly pronounced in pupils from special education, non-native English, and low-income backgrounds.
A recent meta-analysis shows that ITSs exceed the effectiveness of both Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) and human tutors.
Kulik and Fletcher (2016), hammers home the message:
"Students who received intelligent tutoring outperformed students from conventional classes in 46 (or 92%) of the 50 controlled evaluations."
“The median Effect Size (ES) in the 50 studies was 0.66.... roughly equivalent to an improvement in test performance from the 50th to the 75th percentile. This is stronger than typical effects from other forms of tutoring."
“Kulik and Kulik's meta-analysis, for example, found an average ES of 0.31 in 165 studies of CAI tutoring. ITS gains are about twice as high."
“The ITS effect is also greater than typical effects from human tutoring… programs of human tutoring typically raise student test scores about 0.4 standard deviations over control levels."
“Developers of ITSs long ago set out to improve on the success of CAI tutoring and to match the success of human tutoring. Our results suggest that ITS developers have already met both of these goals..."
“Some recognized strengths of ITS are their ability to provide immediate yes/no feedback, individual task selection, on-demand hints, and support mastery learning.”
Complete Mathematics is the most effective way to raise the attainment of all pupils in your school or college. Combined with a mastery approach in the classroom, the tutoring we provide has the potential to shift the proportion of pupils learning well from around 50% to 98% (see the 2-sigma problem).
Complete Mathematics is the best approach to school-led tutoring. All the data is immediately available to teachers, schools, trusts, and families. Schools can have significant input unlike the detached supplementary education typical of normal tutors. It is this three-way relationship between pupil, teacher and parent that further helps bring about significant impact.
If your school or college is not yet deploying to all of your pupils, speak to us today and we’ll help you deploy an approach to school-led tutoring that will transform attainment, motivation and engagement.
About the Author
Mark is the UK's leading authority on teaching for mastery. He has trained over 2000 schools in mastery models for schooling in the UK and overseas.
A leading figure in mathematics education, Mark has led many large-scale government education initiatives, both in the UK and overseas. Mark was a Director at the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and has also been a school leader, an Advanced Skills Teacher, a school inspector and a teacher trainer. He founded and was Chairman of the Teacher Development Trust.
Mark has extensive experience of mathematics teaching and learning across all age and ability groups, having taught students from age 3 to PhD!