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Is Online Tutoring Effective?

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Within the past decade, most all service-based companies have adapted to the technological shift seen within our society. Especially since the covid-19 pandemic of 2020, many organizations shifted their focus from being strictly in-person to now having some online or virtual form. This spans between legal counseling, therapy, and now the realm of education. However, the question arises as to whether or not these services are as impactful and effective to their previous, in-person, counterparts? Specifically, within education, is online tutoring effective?


Though the online and in-person forms of tutoring seem drastically different, they are actually more alike than one may think. Both are able to provide students one-on-one time with an expert that can aid them in both content and strategy skills to improve their overall understanding of a curriculum or study habits. Part of the benefit with online tutoring is that the student is then able to attend this one-on-one session wherever they please, whether it be in a library, their room, or coffee shop, which can provide a sense of comfort and willingness to learn from the get-go. Additionally, online tutoring and educational services can provide flexibility for students who may not be able to attend traditional tutoring service hours.

When it comes to highly involved students or student-athletes, time can most definitely be of the essence, and it is important to keep academics as a top priority. Online-tutoring provides students with this flexibility, for typical online tutoring typically allows for personalized scheduling, as well as taking the meeting or service wherever is convenient at the given time. Overall, online services provide a much more effective way to reach students given their accessibility and availability.

Results within Elementary Math

When it comes to the actual results of online tutoring, results are almost identical, if not better, than those of in-person services. Studies (such as the one conducted by Digital Promise) have found that online tutoring can be especially effective within elementary mathematics. Students who simply receive any form of tutoring (online or in-person) display better results than those who do not. Mathematics within elementary school has been a rather prevalent service-based tutoring form within the technological space. Companies such as have provided online math help for students since 2010. Though this organization is not specifically a tutoring service, it does provide math games and learning opportunities to a younger audience in the digital space which aims to increase understanding of basic mathematical concepts. However, the effects of then using a personalized, one-on-one, online tutoring service, as opposed to a website with math games, can be even more effective. Students who are struggling are able to be placed with a tutor who can directly answer their questions, explain concepts in a different way, and provide direct insight as to how certain operations play out. Online-based educational services have been around for quite some time. However, the real advantage for students comes with the personalized feedback and teaching styles than are solely found within online tutoring.

The Digital Whiteboard

A big concern regarding online tutoring is the in-person learning capabilities that can be lost or are not translated from the classroom to a screen. However, the Fordham Institute’s blog addresses and discusses these concerns in great detail. They explain how aspects of the classroom, such as a whiteboard, where a student can specifically see a problem worked through, can be lost when it comes to providing that same quality of information over the internet. However, these concerns are easily diminished with recent technologies. Online tutors are now able to use virtual whiteboards in which they can work through problems on their screen as the student views it on their own device. Students are able to see each step of the process, ask questions, and rework problems just like in a regular classroom. Additionally, screen sharing tends to offer advanced benefits compared to the regular classroom. If a student is receiving aid in a writing class, the online tutor is then able to have them share their screen and see the exact words that are being written down on a page. There is no crowding around one laptop or computer in an effort to make sure the tutor’s grammar points, content edits, and advice are coming across in the student’s writing on the document. It can be argued that students are able to actually engage more when it comes to online tutoring, for not only is the instructor sharing their screen and their work process, but students are also able to share their screens with the student-side of the work process, which provides even more information to the tutor. Tutors can then see the work from a student’s perspective which enhances the overall quality of information and understanding that can be given in a feedback form to the student.

Distractions No More

Another concern with online tutoring revolves around the idea that students can get easily distracted. When placed in a physical environment, tutors are able to control the students’ surroundings and external sources of distraction. Parents may worry that their child will not have the same focused experience that can be found within a physical space on their own laptop. However, these online services actually provide a better focus window for students. A primary source of distraction when it comes to in-person tutoring is simply the phone or computer itself. Students can have texts coming in, websites open, and games all on their computers, but, when the tutoring itself takes place on that same device, there is little to no room for distraction from those aspects that were previously worried about. Students are now using that previous distraction as a form of learning. Their screen is taken up with mathematical equations as opposed to computer games, and they are only talking to the tutor in front of them instead of worrying about calling their friends. Suddenly, their digital space now becomes one of learning and adaptive growth as opposed to a form of entertainment and socializing. This adaptive shift not only allows students to focus better, but it also allows them to use their own technology to its full potential. They are actually learning and growing from their time on the screen, which provides a new shift within their own mind as to the capabilities of the technology in front of them and its applicability.

Keeping Learning as the Main Focus

Perhaps one of the biggest shifts in the past few years, besides technology, has been the focus on mental health as well. Though the topics of online tutoring and mental health may not seem to be interrelated, the two become increasingly entangled when looking at topics such as social anxiety. Children with social anxiety tend to struggle greatly in school when it comes to meeting new people and engaging in a new experience. Online-based services provide an eased approach to this anxiety that is felt by many students across the country. In contrast to physically meeting a new tutor in a new place, students with these anxious tendencies are able to take the calls in the comfort of their own home, where they know that their parents or other family members are with them. They are able to slow down their mind and focus on the work that is in front of them instead of worrying about the new and potentially scary environment that is surrounding them. This concept is explained in great detail on Arizona State University’s blog, but the main takeaway remains that students should be able to not worry about social aspects and anxieties when it comes to tutoring. Truly advancing the student’s understanding of difficult concepts should always remain the top priority, and online tutoring provides that focus by creating the safest environment a child can think of, their own home.

Perhaps the most sought out tutoring service is that of standardized test prep. Parents and students can become very overwhelmed with the abundance of choices that are present when it comes to preparing for a test that can, at times, seem very daunting. Online tutoring can only ever help when it comes to the academics within this space. ACT tutoring and services are easily accessible and affordable when it comes to completing them online. As stated before, students’ lives can be very busy and crowded, and it is important to complete test prep in the form and manner that is most effective for their own schedules and learning abilities. Online tutoring provides this time scheduling capability, and personalized aspect that can be lacking from in-person capabilities. When engaging in online tutoring, students can be placed with a specialist in the area of their test prep that needs the most work. Whether it be reading/writing, math, or science, students are able to find an online tutoring specialist who teaches them about the specific subjects and can cater the content to their exact needs and within their exact schedule as well. Additionally, perhaps the biggest part of standardized testing, is simply learning to take the test. With online services, students are able to complete the tests in the format in which they are heading in the future, for most standardized tests are now shifting to an online format. With online tutoring, students are now able to better acclimate to this shift in the near future and be better prepared in relation to those who choose the traditional tutoring format.

Tutoring is the Ultimate Goal

All in all, the most important aspect of tutoring is that the student is receiving the help they need, regardless of the form in which that takes place. Though in-person tutoring tends to be the traditional route that most parents and students take, the online shift is coming, and it is better to get ahead of the curve rather than fall behind it. Additionally, online tutoring has proved to be more efficient in most instances, allowing for flexible scheduling, the ability to be placed with a designated specialist, and creating an environment that facilitates a true learning process rather than one of anxious tendencies. It is important to keep the end goal of the student in mind, and it is ultimately up to the parent and child to decide what is best for them, but choosing online may be more advantageous in the coming years. Especially since the pandemic, students are now more adapted to using technology in their daily lives, as well as the rest of the world. It is important for everyone to be prepared for the world that is ahead of them, and online tutoring is one of the many ways in which students can learn to be prepared for the digital age that is rapidly approaching for them and many generations to come. Tutoring is more than providing academic help to students. It is about preparing them to become free and creative thinkers on their own, and there is no better way to accomplish that mission than through the use of the most accessible tool to them, the technology at their fingertips.

Smith Learning Services provides online tutoring in the best manner possible, in the comfort of the student’s own home (or wherever they would like) and with the voices of people who will guide them on their academic journey in the way that they see fit for the individual rather than a mass generalization. If you or someone you know is looking to engage in an online tutoring service or simply learn more about the process itself, feel free to reach out and book a free consultation today. These services range from subject tutoring to educational consulting to life coaching, and even parent/teacher school training. No matter what stage of life you or your child is in, there is always a plan for you, especially at Smith Learning Services. Online tutoring, though rather new, is proven to help students overcome and achieve their academic goals. The specialized aid, ease of communication, and scheduling capabilities are all aspects that transcend the traditional tutoring experience and can be found in the online format. To learn more about online tutoring or specific services, make sure to visit the Smith Learning Services Blog and read some more about the advantages of being online.

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