Small Group Tutoring or Private One-to-One, Which is Right for You?

Empty Lecture HallIf you are considering tutoring, or thinking about tutoring as an option for you or your child, this question is one of the most common.

The most institutionalized and common answer is that you should get a personal one-to-one tutor if you can afford it, but the answer may be more challenging when it comes down to the actual application, quality and diversity of content.

Of course, the traditional education system teaches us in group settings. Throw 30 students and a teacher in the classroom, and you have the most economically scalable and effective way to meet educational needs. But, then, why do so many students fall through the cracks of the system? Why do we have an average of 7,000 dropout high school students a day? Many argue it’s because we teach “to the test,”or that there’s an intersectional bias between race, class, and the level of education you are eligible to receive.

Some would say that, sadly, the results are diminishing: the need for tutors is rising, the racial disparity spanning over an ever increasing educational gap is getting harder and harder to breach, and the system is failing those whom it was meant to benefit most. For this reason, the argument goes, establishing a backup system that picks up the slack for the system itself is the cornerstone to a well-educated society, and making an A on that next math test. But how do you know if group tutoring is the right option for you, and how do you know if individual tutoring is worth the extra money? The answer is in the “Why?”.

If applicable, WHY is the traditional classroom setting not working for you?  If you’re looking for a tutor to help you with something you are not taking a class in, this question may not apply to you. (For instance: if you are a middle aged individual looking for guitar lessons, or you need training on how to file your taxes.) However, if you are a student in search of a tutor for a class you are currently enrolled in (or will be enrolled in), it’s a good idea to figure out why your particular classroom setting is not working.

If it’s because there are too many students and you can’t get your questions answered or your instructor is too overwhelmed to offer individual attention, group lessons might give you the opportunity to learn the material and ask the questions you need without an exorbitant price tag. In that situation, perhaps personal instruction is overkill.

On the other hand, if you are falling significantly behind in course material,  have a learning style that is not common, have physical or mental considerations that affect your learning, need to learn hands-on subjects, or are searching for a tutor for a specific skill that you have absolutely no base knowledge of, individual tutoring may be more appropriate, and may even be required.

Have you tried either option before? Do you have any recommendations? If you have tried either option before and know that said option works for you, stick with it. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you know anyone who has gotten a tutor in the subject area you are searching for, ask them for their preference. Word of mouth can be the most reliable tool, especially if that person can recommend a tutor in your needed niche or if they have a similar learning style. Because of the professional as well as the human side of one-to-one learning, finding an individual mentor or tutor who is the right fit is a numbers game, so internet marketplaces (like LRNGO and others) can improve your chances.

I can’t stress this enough, consider how you learn. I know I’ve already mentioned this twice, but figuring out how you learn and what is and isn’t working is the key. Make sure you communicate your style of learning to your tutor so he/she can tailor their lessons and teaching style. In addition, if there’s a textbook or a curriculum on the subject that fits your goals, outlining these pages and adding online quizzes to test your knowledge and development at certain stages can also be helpful.

Ultimately, deciding if a tutor or a small group class is right for you can be a difficult decision. The traditional education model does not always work for everyone, and having a tutor is in no way a sign of weakness, but instead can be the quickest way to build confidence. The next step is deciding if group tutoring or one to one mentorship is necessary. Ask around, think about what’s working for you and what isn’t, and decide which method will better pander to your way of learning.

At the end of the day, learning how you learn best is often the key to making that A.



Emma Wu is an undergraduate student at Bryn Mawr College pursuing her side passion of oppression theory and educational reformation. She worked as a volunteer art teacher for two years at an underprivileged elementary school in Philadelphia, and serves as a co-teacher for Advancement of Mexican Americans programs across the city of Houston. 

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences + 3 Related Tips for Online Learning

Many learning scenarios follow a typical pattern: teacher gives information, learner gets information, teacher tests information, repeat. In fact, the term “pedagogy,” commonly known as teaching techniques and principles, originates from the Greek paid (child) and agogus (leader of.) [1]


However, many teachers today also know that this dispensary style of teaching and learning doesn’t work for everyone, and many classrooms (traditional or nontraditional) offer opportunities for students to learn actively and apply new material and skills rather than passively receiving information. Many of those teachers and learners have found themselves at home on LRNGO.


Yet online educators must keep in mind that, above all else, teaching is a profession dealing with people: that is, individuals who who have different strengths and challenges. And as our society becomes more inclusive of various manifestations of diversity, teachers must honor and prepare for learning diversity online as well. Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of Education at Harvard University, developed a theory of multiple intelligences in 1983. This theory still serves as a touchstone today for any teacher wanting to embrace learning diversity, and any learner seeking autonomy in the learning process.


[1] International Women Online Journal of Distance Education


Multiple Intelligences


The theory outlines eight types of “smart”:

  • Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
  • Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
  • Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
  • Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
  • Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
  • Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)


This theory refutes the emphasis placed on being “word smart” and “number smart” in the classroom[2], encourages a balance in the presentation and processing of new information, and shifts how gains in knowledge or proficiency are represented. Below are three ways LRNGO instructors can tap into the multiple intelligences of their learners, and hopefully improve learning outcomes and teaching experiences for all!


  1. Take an Inventory. Get to know your learner before the teaching starts. Often good instructors will administer diagnostic assessments to get a baseline idea of their learner’s prior knowledge and skills. Instructors can also find several inventories for students to complete, which provide insight in to the learner’s unique strengths and challenges. You may like this one from Edutopia.
  1. Try Multiple Routes. Once you have a better sense of your student as whole, use this information to strengthen your teaching. For example, if you found that you are working with a visual/spatial learner, try to replace words with pictures as much as possible. If you are working with a naturalist, try to create connections between your topic and the natural world. A kinesthetic learner may need to make or touch things in order to learn best, so you can think creatively about how to make that happen in a virtual learning space. Try to also consider your own intelligence – this may influence how you teach.
  1. Expect Different Outcomes. Allow your students to show what they know in different ways. Interpersonal learners may want to talk their way through the process with a partner, but intrapersonal learners may want to practice on their own and show you their progress later. If you are teaching multiple students on the same topic, consider creating a menu of choices that your students can choose from when it comes time for a final assessment, performance, or project. This site offers a variety of options.


There are millions of paths to meet the needs of diverse learners, but whatever you do, try to shake up your lesson presentation and offer variety in student response along the way, capitalizing on students’ existing strengths and challenging them to learn in new ways!


[2] American Institute for Learning and Human Development


Author Hannah Rosenthal is a New York University graduate with a degree in Childhood & Special Education and a decade of experience in inclusive education. She has served as a special education learning specialist, classroom teacher & co-teacher, and literacy director. Hannah is now the co-founder of Teaching2gether, an inclusive educational consulting group collaborating with educators and developers to reach and teach the broadest audience.

Which One Would You Hire?

mugshotsI’ll save you the suspense. The answer is None of the Above.

Although none of these guys will likely be hired, every year, roughly one quarter of all people who post profiles on Lrngo and other search and hire sites don’t seem to get the memo. Let’s look at the reasons why, and then find what they all have in common.

A. The “mugshot.” Ok, we get that you’re not the smiley type. We even get that you might live in a rough area, so you don’t want to look like “food.” Unfortunately though, people don’t usually do business with anyone they’re not comfortable with. You’re selling your services and abilities, but you’re not showing the face of a salesman. You’re showing the face of someone who makes people feel like they have to keep their eye on you. Would you feel relaxed letting this guy into your office? How about your house? The point is, letting people see that you at least have the capacity to be friendly makes them feel like they want to work with you. Otherwise, they will have the impression that you’re not a team player, or worse that they have to worry about your intentions.

B. The “goofball.” This is the other extreme.  Sure a sense of humor is good, but not if it affects performance or becomes a distraction. You might be fun to be around and even be a team player, but is this the face of someone who I can count on to reach a goal or to tell me the truth? Does this picture tell me you’re funny? No, it tells me you’re not taking this seriously. Unfortunately for you though, I am, and I’m not going to hire you.

C. The “nothing.” Before I get into this, I’m going to make a disclaimer here. There may be legitimate reasons if you are female to not have a picture, for instance, in situations or countries where it may be dangerous to do so. However, for 90% of all you males, you better put up a picture if you want to compete. The reasons why are simple. First, psychologically, people want to feel assured that your profile is real and you are an actual person with good intentions. While you won’t really know how accurate the picture is as a representation until a visual meeting, a picture is the first reference upon which a path to that perceived reality is based. Second, the unknown is always scarier than the known. (It’s probably fine, but what if he has hair down to his knees and molars the size of the Pyramids?) Finally, people like to feel that they are on equal ground. This is why statistics from basically every site with profiles show consistently that profiles without pictures are contacted less often (generally 5x to 50x). Let me explain it another way. If I took this seriously enough to put up a picture and you didn’t, the bottom line is, I’m not talking to you.

D. The “incognito.” Congratulations. You are so clever, the way you beat the system with your cool sunglasses. You managed to get a picture of your face on your profile even though no one can really see what you look like. Unfortunately for you, that’s the whole point of a picture. The “incognito” might as well be the “nothing.” (Are you wanted in ten states, or only five?) They say eyes are the windows to the soul, but apparently your soul is tinted.

At the end of the day, what all of these examples have in common is that they project a visual lack of trust. Of course, one could argue that until you actually see the real person, you don’t know whether you can trust the authenticity of a picture anyway (which is why the other worst thing you can do is put up a picture that doesn’t actually look like you). However, psychologically, the right picture induces the perception of an actual person who can be trusted, and all people are looking to hire someone they can trust to help further their cause so that the outcome will be a job well done.

It is well known in business that people also naturally want to work with people they like. A smile goes a long way in this regard. It’s not a beauty contest, it’s an “I think this person can help me get this done” contest, and “I will achieve my goal if I hire him/her.” By the way, it’s no different with barter transactions. You still want to know that you can trust them with your goals, and psychologically at least, a picture of their face is an indicator–not just of who you are working with, but also that they are not afraid to be themselves, and that they are taking the opportunity seriously.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. However, a thousand random words are meaningless, so don’t put up a random picture. Make sure it says exactly what you want it to say about you.