I have heard that the famous universities in England have One-on-One tutoring. I'm not sure if that is actually the case, but that doesn't matter for the idea I want to explain. That means one tutor helps one student only. That must be incredibly effective for learning. From my experience as a tutor and as a "coach" (Nachhilfelehrer) I know that there is a huge difference in One-on-One tutoring compared to One-on-Many tutoring, where one tutor teaches about 30 students. If you only have one student, you can focus on the needs of this single student. And I guess that the student will also be encouraged a bit more to participate. If you only have one student, the student will not sleep while you teach him. He has to stay focused, because you will notice when he doesn't.
So One-on-One tutoring is something we want to get.
The problem of One-on-One tutoring
It is expensive, if it would be done like tutoring is currently done. In fact I think it would be impossible, because you would not find that many tutors. However, I think there are other ways to motivate students that have already passed the exam to be a tutor for another student.
How to get One-on-One tutoring
Give One-on-One tutors the possibility to write the exam again and improve their grade.
I could imagine it to work like this: A student passes the exam, but he does not have the grade he wants. As he has already passed the exam, he will not be allowed to simply write it again. So he has to search a student who hasn't already passed the exam and help this student to prepare for the exam. Now we have to check if the One-on-One tutor really helped the new student. I could imagine two ways that could also be combined.
One-on-One tutoring: Way 1
The One-on-One tutor has to help the new student with the exercises. So the One-on-Many tutor gets the information which exercises were done by the One-on-One tutor and the new student. In contrast to now, not only one student would exercise, but two. In order to make sure that there is an improvement, one could increase the necessary number of points for the One-on-One tutor to a threshold of \(\theta_1\). \(\theta_1\) should denote how much more points the student needs (in percent of the points the students need) to get the possibility to re-do the exam.
\(\theta_1 = 0\) would mean that the tutor does only need a student who gets the minimum number of points to pass the exam.
\(\theta_1 = 1\) would mean that the tutor needs his students to get double the number of points in the exercises than what he would need to be allowed to participate in the exam.
This means \(\theta_1 \in [0, 1]\).
\(\theta_1\) should not be zero, because that would mean that 1-on-1 tutors could choose their students right before the exam. But I want them to choose the student at the beginning of the semester. And \(\theta_1\) may not be too high. The higher it gets, the more difficult and time intensive it gets for the student and the tutor. I think the time right before an exam is the time where students learn most. If a student doesn't achieve the \(\theta_1\) threshold, then the tutor will not have any incentive to help the student to prepare for the exam except for money or friendship. This is a good incentive for the student to keep working on excercises, even if he already got enough points to be allowed to write the exam.
One-on-One tutoring: Way 2
The other possibility would be to enforce a minimum grade for the tutored student. So the One-on-One tutor cannot participate in the same exam as his student, but in the exam after that. And the tutor can only participate in that exam if his student got a minimum grade \(\theta_2\), e.g. 2.3 or better.
\(\theta_2 = 5\) would mean that the student only has to participate in the exam (at KIT every student gets at least a grade of 5. The best grade is 1.0.).
\(\theta_2 = 1\) would mean that the student has to pass with the best grade so that the tutor is allowed to participate in the exam.
Alternatively one could make that dependent on the number of students who got the grade. So \(\theta_2 = 10\%\) would mean that you choose the grade threshold in a way that makes sure that at least 10% of all students pass that requirement.
This means \(\theta_2 \in [1, 5]\) or \(\theta_2 \in (0\%, 100\%]\).
\(\theta_2\) should not be too bad (near 5), because then it will be too easy for many students to get another try for the exam. That would also not help the students, because the tutor would not have an incentive that is strong enough to increase the abilities of his student. However, if \(\theta_2\) gets too low (near 1.0) then most students will not try to be a tutor because it is too difficult to get a student to achieve that good results.
How to speak about it
I would like to call this model MOOT (Martins One-on-One Tutoring model ☺ ). It is parameterized with two variables, \(\theta_1\) and \(\theta_2\).
I think \(MOOT(\theta_1=0.2, \theta_2=25\%)\) would be a good possibility to encourage students to help other students effectively. \(\theta_1\) is low enough to make it fairly easy for somebody who already passed the exam to "lift" a student to pass the requirement.
So I guess \(MOOT(0.2, 25\%)\) would be a good choice. You could still argue that the tutor could simply write the excercises himself. But I don't think that would be a problem, because then the tutor would do the excercises. He would still practice. We only get a problem if larger groups of students copy excercises. I don't think that is the case, but I judge from the students I know. I might have a biased view on the problem.
The two ways I proposed would in general lead to better students, remove stress from students because a single bad exam would not be that bad any more and very likely lead to better students. Students would be better on the paper (because the tutor should only be able to improve himself by the new exam and also his student should be able to achieve better results in the exam) and in the real world. Students would get an incentive to repeat what they did not understand before. They would get an incentive to help other students. For free. And it would not be that much more work for the university. I think it is easier to correct exams of good students and only a few would really take this possibility as it is really time intensive for the One-on-One tutor. But for some exams and some students that might be worth the effort.
What do you think about it? Do you think we could introduce that model at KIT? Who could propose it? To whom should it be proposed?
If writing the exam again is not an option, we could try to find other incentives for tutors:
- Getting "exclusive" rights:
- Visiting CERN or something similar
- Getting access to equipment of the university (executing your personal projects on KIT clusters, getting access to microscopes, being allowed to use lecture halls)
- "Proud" of the unversity: If we could make KIT students being proud of being a student at KIT the students themselves could want to support fellow students.
I am not sure if there is any incentive which is strong enough to support another student for one semester. Do you have an idea? Please share it in the comments!