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Group tuition and customised tuition: Is one superior over the other?

They each have their pros and cons.

During primary tuition in a group setting, students can feel the comfort and familiarity, not dissimilar from what is happening in a school classroom setting, where you have a tutor or teacher leading the entire learning session instructing what the students need to memorise, how to dismantle the question using tools and concepts, and what need to be practised and how the students should approach the solving of question and presentation of an answer.

The student benefits from the familiarity and smaller class size during PSLE tuition. There will be occasional interactions with the teacher, but this would be limited by time. Teacher is unlikely to be able to check on each of the students’ work individually during the conduct of the class.

The disadvantage of group based learning is that the learning pace is determined by the entire group, and typically paced at a level suited for the slower learners in the group. This approach is suitable for students in their final year or national examination year, eg a class of secondary students attending O level tuition who are sitting for the GCE O level this year. Most students sitting for GCE O level would have completed nearly the entire syllabus by May/Jun.

On the other hand, customised tuition would better suit students at the secondary 1 to 3 levels as it is tailored to their different needs.  Each secondary school has its own curriculum and lesson plan, and may not follow the sequence of topics as in the textbooks.

Customised lesson would also serve well for A level tuition because the students can focus on asking areas or questions that they did not understand. They could also ask about their homework given by their colleges. JC tuition students are generally independent learners and their ability to interact should work well in a customised lesson setting.

Group based learningCustomised learning
Teacher chooses the topics to be coveredStudent chooses the topics to be covered
Pace of lesson is constrained by other learnersPace of lesson is suited to the student
Suitable for Pri 6/PSLE, Sec 4/5/O level studentsSuitable for Primary 1-5 and Sec 1-3 students and JC 1 & 2 students

Perhaps in an ideal learning environment, students should have both. Lecture-style group-based learning when initially learning the subject. Thereafter, the learning is supported by a series of customised small group learning in deepening the understanding of the topic that is taught, as the 1-to-1 interaction and guidance by the teacher to the learner would greatly reinforce the knowledge taught.

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