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I’m not sure if this question belongs here, so I apologize if it doesn’t. I work in a tutoring center at my university where we tutor every subject. Mathematics is in high demand, and occasionally my coworkers ask if I can tutor multiple students at the same time (commonly in different courses, but not always). I’ve always told them no, because I felt my style would be incompatible with that type of session.

My question is two fold: 1. Are there any studies on the effectiveness of group tutoring? What parameters have determined the effectiveness of the sessions? 2. How can I successfully host a session like this? It’d definitely help our overall numbers (to keep funding for our grant we need to reach certain goals), but I don’t want to reduce my effectiveness in helping the student. Perhaps I can adopt a different style that would be more effective in tutoring in this way?

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about group tutoring in general, or specifically about group tutoring in mathematics? $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Feb 15 at 0:17
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    $\begingroup$ Group tutoring in Mathematics. It’s what I mainly tutor. $\endgroup$ – user458276 Feb 15 at 0:38
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how things are set up where you are, but when I was involved in tutoring students at a tutor center, the students sat around several large tables (rectangular shaped tops, with maybe 8 to 12 chairs per table), and I had no problem simultaneously working with students in college algebra, trig, beginning calculus, differential equations, and even upper level "advanced engineering math". While a student was working on a problem or considering what I said about something, I'd go to another student, see what they were doing, give a hint or something, then go to another student, etc. $\endgroup$ – Dave L Renfro Feb 15 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ I run a small tutoring system at my school that does physics and chemistry tutoring, and I also do some of the tutoring myself. (I do my office hours in the physics tutoring room.) For physics, we usually have between 0 and 5 students per tutor, and in my experience this works well. We do basically what Dave Renfro describes in his comment. What I think is bad is when you get multiple students who all want simultaneous help on the same problem, and they try to get the tutor to basically solve it for them while they all copy down the same solution. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Feb 15 at 19:31
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I would think you could do this if you are giving the people work and just checking it occasionally. I.e. not holding their hand constantly. This would allow you to timeshare more than one student.

Obviously one on one training is the best (for the student) but it is expensive, per capita. This is why it is common that athletic training is done in groups.

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    $\begingroup$ The question also asks for studies. Adding some would improve the answer. $\endgroup$ – Tommi Brander Feb 15 at 10:47
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If they are going over the same material, cross-help by students is valuable: it shores up confidence, and can lead to useful discussion on approaches that do (or not) work.

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  • $\begingroup$ Adding references to studies would improve this answer. $\endgroup$ – Tommi Brander Jun 24 at 7:18

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