Selecting a GP Tutor
3 Qualities to use in selecting a GP Tutor
During our workshops or conversations with parents & students, we are commonly asked:
a) How can i improve (or support my child) in GP?
b) How does one select a GP tutor or GP tuition centre?
Recommendations by word of mouth is usually how most people select a GP tutor. But if you have no contacts, here are 3 important aspects to consider:
1) Teacher Quality
2) Class Size and Feedback Provided to Students
3) How Lessons are Conducted
Much research has shown that teacher quality is the number one determinant of a student’s success – more so than any other factor.
In short, you want to look for a tutor that has current and sufficient teaching experience.
This is important because tutors who are still working in schools have access to the most up-to-date curriculum and materials. Also, every year or so, teachers receive briefings by UCLES (University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate) on the latest General Paper / English exam requirements and curriculum changes.
At Knowledge Skills, we ensure that we receive the latest updates of such materials and attend the necessary workshops and briefings so that our students are not short-changed.
So you would ideally want to check:
a) Does the tutor have a Post Graduate Diploma (PGDE) from M.O.E and any other credentials?
b) How does the tutor updates and prepares his/her curriculum and materials?
c) How many years of experience has the tutor taught the subject at the appropriate level? (e.g secondary school English teachers are not trained to teach GP – just as how you would not hire a JC teacher to teach Primary School English due to different pedagogies and skill sets)
Most of the competent tutors are still involved with schools in some ways so as to stay current.
The more questionable ones are those that are still using the same materials and pedagogies without updating them. Even now, parents or students complain how their ex-tutor was using outdated exam papers or marking schemes.
As always, caveat emptor!
Class Size and Feedback Given to Students
To improve, select a GP tutor that can provide constant personal feedback.
This cannot be stressed enough and most students understand the need to see a teacher for consultation. So the same principle applies for GP Tuition.
For GP Tuition and English, sufficient individual attention and personal feedback is key to improvement. This is due to the nature of the subject. Unlike the sciences or math, there are no standardized answers and each student can provide a different and valid response to the same question.
It is also commonly understood that large class size negatively affects students’ academic performance. Qualitative studies consistently support that in smaller classes it is easier for teachers to spot problems and give feedback. Regular and high quality feedback is pedagogically proven to be one of the best ways for rapid improvement.
Hence, in addition to teacher quality, seek out GP tuition that guarantees small and manageable class sizes where the teacher has time for personal guidance and gives consistent feedback.
a) How does the tutor monitor the progress of his/her students?
b) How is feedback given when work is set? Does the tutor go through the exam papers or written work of the student?
c) How does the tutor support students of differing ability in the class?
How Lessons are Conducted i.e What Goes On During Tuition Lessons
The last essential factor to consider is how lessons are conducted and whether time is spent meaningfully.
A) How does the teacher use the lesson time to address the students’ concerns?
B) What goes on during lessons? How much is just group work or doing assignments and how much is actual teaching?
Students usually approach us for GP tuition due to dissatisfaction in how GP is taught by their teachers. Complaints would include random discussion of articles, taking forever to cover one question, or poorly guided class presentations.
Hence it is silly if you go to a tuition centre that duplicates the same processes that drove you to seek tuition. A 2 hour tuition session can pass by very quickly but yet with little learning if it consists of much ‘individual presentations’, ‘peer-marking’ or reading news articles with poor follow-up.
Time can also be consumed without much tutoring if the majority of the lesson is spent doing an assignment and the teaching only comes in the last 20 minutes.
GP tuition should be concerned with the teaching of skills and content. These are the foundations. Without skills, you can’t write your essay coherently. Without content, you have nothing to write about.
Yet knowing what is needed is one thing. Being able to apply it is another.
Hence, tuition should be about helping develop masterful application of these skills.
Is there sufficient content covered? Are lessons merely about flashing the answer scheme and asking students to copy the answers?
Apart from the quality of materials given, a trial lesson would be a good opportunity to find out if the lesson and the teaching style is suitable.
In the end, it all comes together. A productive, meaningful GP tuition lesson needs to be paired with a quality tutor who in turn should operate in a small sized class environment to provide effective tutoring and personal feedback.
For inquiries about our tuition programmes, please feel free to contact us.