Online tutoring FAQs

It’s only natural to wonder if tutoring works and ask whether online tutoring is as good as sitting down face-to-face with a tutor. This blog post is designed to shed light on the world of tutoring and give you the facts you need to help you decide whether online tutoring is right for you.

So, lets look at whether tutoring works and if online tutoring is effective – so you don’t have to take my word for it, I will tell you what the academics say. I will also explain how online tutoring works, how you go about finding a tutor and look at issues around child safety and cost effectiveness. Still got your attention? Then read on.

Does tutoring work?

Any form of tutoring is better than not being tutored.  It is the one to one that works. Struggling on your own, it seems, is not the answer.[1] However, here is what you should do to get a well-researched answer to the question. Go on and read our article on whether online tutoring really works.

Academic research says that tutoring leads to an average improvement of one and half grades in a given subject, in many cases much more.[2] This could mean transforming a D to a good C grade, or B to A* for example. You are paying for results.

But which is better?  Do you find someone to sit down with or do you get online?

We were recently chatting to Bette Chambers at the Institute for Effective Education at York University, who told us that studies had shown that online education was as effective as face to face education, and in some cases shown to be more effective. What was most important was the quality of the teaching.

We also found that the older the student, the more effective online tutoring becomes. Research in the United States found that college students using online tutoring service fared better than those learning in a traditional face-to-face environment. It also showed that a student is far more likely to persevere with a subject if they’ve got access to tutoring. [4]

So how does it work?

There are two main ways in which people can access online tutoring.

Firstly, students find their own tutors, who use services like Skype.  This can provide video, audio, text and file upload functions. Skype has big drawbacks, as it has no child safety features, no whiteboard, session recordings or payment management. Certainly not fully fit for purpose.

Other tutors choose to use teleconferencing, but this still does not address child safety and payments.

Alternatively, students can use services such as ours at Superprof provide a one stop shop for students. It’s a place where you can find a tutor, schedule and hold a lesson and chat online, whiteboard, file uploads, session recordings and manage payments safely for you.

When finding a tutor is a problem

Parents often struggle to find a tutor for their kids. Students at 6th Form or at University encounter exactly the same problem. They rely on recommendations and word-of-mouth to find someone – but what if you just cannot find someone?

One of the biggest problems with traditional tutoring is that you are constrained to a certain date and time.  It has to be convenient for both tutor and student and involves travelling.  Online tutoring removes travelling issues and to some degree the time constraints too.  

Instead of relying on a tutor to be there at the right time, going online opens you up to many more people who are available around the clock, at a time that suits you.  

Is it safe for my child?

We are all well aware of the risks to young people posed by the internet. There are dangers also with meeting people online – high profile cases in recent months have brought the topic into the national attention.

At Superprof tutors are required to have UK government CRB/DBS checks, so you know that they have no criminal records and are safe to work with children.

We take every precaution to ensure complete safety of children, which is why we have clearly-marked buttons to report inappropriate content, giving parents a piece of mind knowing that safety is paramount.  The information you disclose is kept at an absolute minimum and everything is recorded and monitored to ensure safety.

Is it good value for money?

This is the big win for most students. Getting tutored online is cheaper than face to face tutoring.

A typical face-to-face tutor charges £30 – £60+ per hour, with many charging for their travel time.  At Superprof, tutors generally charge around £20 per hour.  The great thing about online tutoring is that there are no travel expenses – a tutor merely needs to sit at their computer.

Start-up costs are minimal – the site is free to use (you just pay the tutor for the time spent, literally by the minute) and there’s no expensive software to buy.  You will need a microphone headset, but these are available online for just a few pounds.

So what does this all mean to you?  Firstly, it’s easy to find and contact a tutor. There is strong academic evidence to say it is as effective as face-to-face tutoring, that it’s safe and good value for money. Well worth a try, we think.

The research

The following scientific and academic research that has been published in educational journals worldwide.

1) Students given audio or text tutoring all performed better than those supplementing their learning with a non-changing text, according to “When are Tutorial Dialogues More Effective Than Reading?”

2) “The relative effectiveness of human tutoring, intelligent tutoring systems, and other tutoring systems” showed the improvement in grades resulting from tutoring.

3)“Face-to-face versus Online Tutoring Support in Humanities Courses in Distance Learning” looked at students on courses through the Open University and featured online forums and video and audio conferencing.

4) “The Effect of Access to an Online Tutorial Service on College Algebra Student Outcomes” also noted that students went to tutors to help solve a problem, requiring great flexibility that you don’t necessarily get with a face-to-face tutor.

Here are top-ten educational game websites for tutors and students.


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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.