This setting is found mostly in the tutoring/education service centers. Often you will see a “T,” ”+,” or “U” shape desk in rooms where this time-sharing sessions is being held. The sessions might even be advertised as an individualized tutoring session. If it were advertised as such, the student’s family needs to realize that it might be paying for one hour of private tutoring service when the student is only receiving twenty minutes of individualized attention. Usually though, the rates for these setting are cheaper than one-on-one private tutoring, and this setup can be the right setup for certain students in certain situations.
The typical time-sharing session may go like this: first, a student (let’s call him Student A) arrives and the tutor discusses with the student what he will study and what the student will need to do for the session; subsequently, he will receive a short lecture. About five minutes after Student A’s arrival, Student B will arrive. The tutor, seeing Student B, will tell Student A what he needs to do for the next ten minutes, and then attend to Student B, going over what he needs to study and giving short lectures. Five minutes after Student B’s arrival, Student C will arrive. The tutor will again give Student B what he needs to do for next fifteen minutes, and then attend to Student C. After Student C receives attention for five minutes, the tutor will now come back to Student A, going over what Student A has done for the ten minutes, and then giving necessary instructions for about ten minutes. Then the tutor will give Student A something to do for the next twenty minutes, then will go to Student B to check on his work and teach him anything needed. Student B will receive about ten minutes of attention then set to work on assigned problems for the next twenty minutes. By this time, Student C will have finished the twenty- minute assignment he received at the beginning, and the tutor will spend ten minutes with him on things needed. This ten-minute attention, twenty-minute self-study cycle goes on until the student’s hour is up. Before departing, the student will receive about 5 minutes of checking with the tutor, and may receive some homework. When a student departs, his spot will likely be filled by another student, unless it is near the end of the day for the tutor.
The most obvious benefit of this system is that three students can share the payment of a tutor’s service; thus rates will typically be lower compared to one-on-one private tutoring. Students likely won’t be able to hinder the progress of other students, and they can all be working on different subjects. They also receive much practice reading relevant content and doing related problems; thus these sessions can help build up the student’s study skills and confidence. It is also possible for the instructors to make use of the all the students to conduct mini-group sessions when the opportunity arises; thus they can flexibly use active/collaborative learning methods from time to time.
From the educational center’s view point, this can mean hiring fewer tutors to handle students and subjects. The center can also save space and time as different students and subject courses can be taught in the same place by the same tutor. Since the students are receiving some individualized attention, the center can advertise this as if it is a private tutoring service, and charge fees higher than typical mini-group classes.
The disadvantage of this system is due primarily to the time-sharing arrangement. The student may be paying more hours than he is actually using. There is a chance that the instructor may not have given the right amount of self-study work; thus the student might be idle for couple of minutes, or be stuck and not make progress while he waits for instructor to come back to him. One of the students might be very disruptive and thus be a nuisance to the other students. The tutor will have to juggle three topics at once; thus he will become fatigued fast. Certain topics will require lengthy explanation; thus the student might be forced to collect pieces from different lecture sessions. Since there isn’t much of a chance for interactions among the students, all the potential problems in one-on-one tutoring format will slowly arise. The students and tutors are being confined to small windows of space and time; thus there is a psychological toll as well. Finally, the tutor will end up giving some students more time compared to others due to the difference in topics they are covering. It is the writer’s opinion that this setup is best used when limits in resources force various students to be in same room at once. Despite all its disadvantages, this format allows highest amount of independent work on the part of the students; thus it is a very good way to help students develop good study habits. It can also be a cheaper way to receive help with homework or specific test preparation service compared to one-on-one tutoring.