Four weeks after Italian schools closed in early March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers developed and implemented a free, one-on-one, online tutoring program for 500 middle-school students from low-income families across Italy. The results showed improved academic performance, increased psychological well-being, and increased socio-emotional skills for the students.
In the study, volunteer university students tutored the middle schoolers for at least 3 hours per week. The university students were given an online self-training course prepared by educational consultants. Furthermore, the volunteers attended group meetings and on-demand sessions with pedagogical experts.
With 3 hours of online tutoring a week, the participating middle-school students improved their performance by .26 standard deviations compared to the control group, increased their well-being by .17 SD, and increased their socio-emotional skills by .14 SD.
In-person, teacher or paraprofessional tutoring can be costly and hard to arrange. The results of this study are significant because they provide evidence that a large-scale, online tutoring model with volunteer tutors who are supported and trained by pedagogical experts can substantially reduce the cost of tutoring while still providing effective interventions as measured by this study.
Read more about the tutoring program and its impacts here.