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Maximising impact: frequency and duration matters

Previously, I considered a general overview of the best ways to ensure a short-term intervention programme has the greatest impact.  This week, I’d like to drill down into that idea further and consider the evidence around two key areas: frequency and duration.  

There is growing national and international evidence to suggest that more concentrated programmes can be more effective than those that take place over a prolonged period. Research from The Education Endowment Fund suggests that:

“Short, regular sessions (about 30 minutes, three to five times a week) over a set period of time (up to ten weeks) appear to result in optimum impact. Evidence also suggests tuition should be additional to, but explicitly linked with, normal teaching, and that teachers should monitor progress to ensure the tutoring is beneficial.” 

And a meta-analysis of randomised evaluations of tutoring programmes and review of almost 200 rigorous studies published in The High Impact Tutoring Toolkit (p.9-10) found that: 

 “The most effective tutoring interventions involve three or more sessions per week with sessions that last for about 30 to 60 minutes per day. Elementary (Primary) students may benefit from shorter 30 min sessions, while older students likely need 45 to 60 min per session.”   

They also found: “the effects of programs conducted during the school day are roughly twice as large as those conducted outside of school.”  

This message was also emphasized by an evidence review carried out by The Poverty Action Lab (p.8) who suggested:  

“For all grade levels, increasing tutoring frequency from one or two sessions per week to three sessions per week benefits student learning.”  

The take aways here are simple:  

  1. Frequency: increasing the frequency of catch-up or intervention tuition (ideally to at least 3 times a week or more) is most effective 
  1. Duration: keeping the duration to 30 minutes for younger students, 45-60 minutes for older students works best. 

These are both highly evidenced methods for upping the impact of tuition and intervention. There is no one-size-fits-all solution in education, but there are tried and tested methods for maximising impact and these can definitely be added to that list!  

Should you want further support or help in measuring the impact of Tute’s lessons for your students, please do get in touch with me.  As Tute’s Impact and Evaluation Manager, I’ll be more than happy to help! 

Dr. Sharon Smith
Impact and Evaluation Manager

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