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How to Overcome Challenges in Online Tutoring?

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Challenges of online tutoring (3)

The University of Potomac posts that the majority, 70% of all students, believe that online instruction is either as good or better than a traditional classroom setting. Nonetheless, online tutoring poses its own challenges.

According to another study by Means and Neisler in 2020, a random sample of 1,008 undergraduates who shifted from in-person to online learning during the Spring 2020 semester revealed significant changes in satisfaction levels. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic-induced transition, 51% of the respondents reported being very satisfied with their courses. However, after the shift to online learning, only 19% expressed the same level of satisfaction.

Moreover, the study highlighted other challenges in online tutoring sessions faced by students : 

  • Around 57% of the respondents found it difficult to maintain interest in the course material in the online format.
  • Additionally, 65% stated that they had fewer opportunities to collaborate with their peers compared to in-person classes, which could impact their overall learning experience. 
  • Furthermore, 42% of the students reported facing motivational issues while learning online. 

These findings emphasize the various obstacles students encounter in adapting to the virtual learning environment.

If you’re a tutor providing online tutoring or planning to do so shortly, these 7 challenges can prevent you from implementing it the right way. Chances are you may have a drop in your tutoring business.

The good news is this think piece will walk you through detailed strategies for overcoming the challenges of online tutoring. Read on!

Identifying and overcoming challenges of online tutoring

Overcoming challenges in online tutoring requires building a rapport, keeping students engaged, providing personalized attention, keeping students engaged, assessing students’ progress, managing student behavior, troubleshooting technical issues, and handling tutor and student isolation. We have discussed 7 challenges in online tutoring and the steps to address them effectively. However, remember, consistency and patience are crucial to see successful results of your efforts. With that, let’s start:

Building rapport with students

Building a rapport with students is crucial to keep them interested in your class. Besides, it helps the student connect with you and communicate about their improvement. A good understanding between tutors and students can help them grasp the lectures better.

William Bruskist and Bryan K. Saville surveyed a substantial sample of Auburn University undergraduates taking an introductory-level psychology course. During the survey, they requested them to share the level of rapport with their tutors. 

Just over half of the students, slightly more than 50%, reported experiencing rapport with their professors. Unfortunately, the rest of the students couldn’t feel a positive connection with their tutor. 

You certainly don’t want your online students to have the same opinion as you. For that matter, here’s how to build rapport with online students.

  1. Connect with your students: Make an effort to get to know your students on a personal level. Ask them about their interests, hobbies, and goals. Show that you are interested in helping them succeed.
  1. Establish visual contact: Use video conferencing to see your students and establish visual contact. Maintain eye contact while speaking to them, but avoid staring at or glaring at them constantly.
  1. Be respectful and modest with the students:  Talk to the students politely. Do not disrespect or discourage them by talking rudely. 
  1. Praise your students: Praise them when they score well on tests or complete their assignments on time. This would increase their self-confidence and strengthen the tutor-tutee relationship. 
  1. Be passionate: Show interest in your subject matter and your teaching. Try to explain the topics using real-world examples or by conducting experiments before them.
  1. Keep them entertained: Sometimes, students might feel monotonous and reluctant to study. You may crack jokes on such occasions to lighten their moods and get them back on track.

Keeping students engaged

When discussing the challenges in online tutoring, talking about student engagement is a must. Students can absorb and process the lessons better in an interactive class because it keeps them engaged.

However, online settings can sometimes lead to shorter attention spans, as students might become more easily fatigued when interacting through screens for extended periods. 

According to a 2020 survey conducted by Barnes and Noble Education on 432 college students across the U.S., 64% of the students reported experiencing challenges in maintaining focus and discipline during online lectures. Additionally, many of the respondents expressed a lack of motivation to continue distance learning for an extended period.

To combat this, 

  1. Adapt your teaching style: Use various teaching methods to engage your students. Teach them in a way they want to learn. Use interactive quizzes, games, and videos.
  1. Organize your teaching schedule: Make sure your lessons are well-organized and easy to follow.
  1. Use technology to your advantage: Several online tools can help you keep your students engaged. For example, you can use chat, video conferencing, and screen sharing.
  1. Give adequate assignments: Don’t give your students too few or too many tasks. Giving them very little homework would slow down their academic progress, and loading them with excess tasks will make them feel burdened.
  1. Schedule a question-and-answer session: Give time to the students to clarify their queries after each topic has been taught. Ask them whether they think they completely understand the subject.
  1. Engage your students in group discussions: Let the students discuss the taught lessons among themselves. This will help them to think creatively and work cooperatively.
  1. Promote active participation: Your class can always have some enthusiastic students. You can ask them if they’d like to answer your questions or read the topic in the online class.

Providing personalized attention

Working closely with each student’s strengths and weaknesses is important to help them succeed academically. 

Providing personalized attention to every student can be easier in online tutoring, as the students are usually taught in small groups or individually. 

However, sometimes, even when tutoring in small groups, you may fail to provide personalized attention to every student.

Follow these steps: 

  1. Be approachable: Maintain eye contact with every student while tutoring them. Smile at them, crack jokes, and have concise discussions about their life goals or life in general. Your friendliness will make them feel comfortable to approach you.
  1. Build trust: Your students must identify you as their backbone. Let them know that no matter what, you will listen to their issues without judging them. 
  1. Address the students individually: Call the students by their first names. This makes them feel recognized by the tutor.
  1. Show interest in your students: Remember whatever personal info the students share with you. Ask them for updates if they look interested in revealing you.
  1. Emphasize students’ progress: Highlight the students’ good deeds in group sessions. For example, if a student has written a nice essay, read out the essay to the entire class.
  1. Offer additional support: Help your students past your tutoring sessions, such as providing students with homework assistance or reviewing their notes.
  1. Set aside some time for personalized instruction: For a brief period before or after the class, have one-on-one discussions with students and allow them to address you personally about their issues. Give them your complete, undivided attention when they speak to you. 
  1. Offer undivided attention: Avoid doing anything else when a student approaches you for any sort of communication. Listen to their words attentively. 

Assessing student progress

You assess students’ progress through quizzes, revision exercises, or tests. Student assessment helps you measure the effectiveness of your teaching. 

In online tutoring, teachers might find it hard to understand non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and eye contact to gauge a student’s understanding and engagement. Yet, these steps can help you track your student’s progress:

  1. Find effective assessment methods: Use a variety of assessment methods to track student progress. This could include giving quizzes, tests, and assignments.
  1. Offer constructive feedback: Provide students with feedback on their work so that they can track their progress and identify areas where they need additional help.
  1. Follow up with the students: In between the sessions, ask questions to your students about previously taught topics. Measure their understanding and retention by listening to their answers.
  1. Start with a quick recapitulation: In group sessions, you can reserve the first few minutes of the class to ask random students about the previous day’s lesson for a quick revision and assessment.

Managing student behavior

Establishing effective student management allows you to conduct the session with optimum focus. It might be comparatively easier to manage in-person students’ behavior than online students, as online tutoring does not follow the typical classroom discipline. 

Hence, it’s important to establish certain norms before you begin tutoring the students. However, there’s a better way to do so: 

  1. Set clear expectations: Let your students know your expectations at the beginning of the tutoring session. Be consistent with your enforcement of these expectations.
  1. Set deadlines: Fix suitable deadlines for tasks to raise a sense of responsibility among students. 
  1. Practice time management: Make use of calendars, to-do lists, and other tools to teach them time management. 
  1. Be courteous: Do not use a rude accent or stern eye contact to express disappointment. Instead, frame your sentences like this: 
  • “Kindly keep your mobile phones on silent mode to avoid distractions.”
  • “Let’s make an effort to let one another speak without interruption, allowing each person to express their thoughts and ideas freely.”
  • “If you have concerns about someone’s statements, please respectfully raise them, promoting constructive discussion and understanding.”
  1. Be patient and understanding: Students may be new to online tutoring and may need some time to adjust. Understand their issues instead of judging them.
  1. Offer rewards: Reward students for their good behavior to boost their self-esteem and help them maintain discipline.
  1. Foster a sense of self-discipline among students:  Ask your students, “What rules should we follow to ensure a successful learning session?” You might be surprised by their wise answers. Ask them to stick to the self-established rules.

Troubleshooting technical problems

Technology can make or break online tutoring. Technical glitches can divert a student’s focus. Lack of smooth internet access, compatible devices, and smooth navigation can harm your online sessions. However, these strategies can help you tackle the technical challenges: 

  1. Be prepared for technical problems: Plan how to address the usual technical glitches. Ensure you have a reliable internet connection and compatible devices and are using the latest version of your online tutoring software.
  1. Keep your students updated: If you experience a technical problem, communicate with them and let them know what is happening.
  1. Find an exclusive study area: Shift your tutoring system to where you will concentrate without distractions. Make sure the chair and desk are comfortable.
  1. Avoid dark rooms: Ensure there is enough brightness in the area where you teach or your board is located so the students won’t feel tedious.
  1. Use advanced technology: Elevate the learning experience of your online classroom using a high-quality microphone, noise-cancellation technology, and a quality webcam.

Handling isolation for tutors and students

Isolation can be a significant challenge for tutors and students in online tutoring. The remote nature of the learning environment can lead to feelings of disconnection and loneliness, impacting the overall teaching and learning experience. 

Here are some solutions to the problem:

  1. Promote Interactive Learning: Encourage active participation through engaging activities. Include group discussions, virtual debates, and collaborative projects. Real-time virtual interactions can help bridge the gap created by physical distance.
  1. Use Video Conferencing: Organize regular video conferencing sessions for live lectures, Q&A sessions, and virtual office hours. 
  1. Create Online Discussion Forums: Establish online forums where tutors and students can freely exchange ideas, ask questions, and provide feedback.
  1. Promote Peer-to-Peer Collaboration: Assign group projects or collaborative tasks to study buddies. Working together on tasks can create a supportive network where students can help each other and reduce feelings of isolation.
  1. Provide Timely Feedback: Offer prompt and constructive feedback on assignments. This can help students feel connected to their tutors.
  1. Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of both students. Recognizing their efforts fosters a positive learning environment and reinforces a sense of belonging.
  1. Ensure Regular Communication: Maintain regular and open communication with students. Use email updates, announcements, and reminders to make them feel accompanied in the learning journey.

To sum it up…

Online tutoring can be a great way to provide students with academic support and exam preparation. By building rapport, Keeping students engaged, providing personalized attention, tracking student’s progress, managing student behavior, tackling technical issues, and handling isolation, you can overcome the challenges of online tutoring and provide your students with the best possible learning experience.

The Ultimate Guide to Online Tutoring

Online Tutoring vs In-Person Tutoring: Pros & Cons

How Online Tutoring Supports Homeschooling: Benefits & Strategies

Online Tutoring for College and University Students

Tips for Engaging and Motivating Students in Online Tutoring Sessions

How Online Tutoring Can Help Students with Different Styles of Learning

How to Find a Tutor for Your Child

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I ensure students are actively engaged in online tutoring sessions?

To promote active engagement
1. Ask students to introduce themselves to one another.
2. Encourage group discussions among students.
3. Ask open-ended questions where all the students can participate.
4. Offer real-time feedback to keep students focused and participating.

How can introverted students actively participate in virtual learning?

Introverted learners can actively participate in virtual learning through approaches that suit their preferences. If they’re less interactive, probably you should make the first move. Ask them about their life goals and avoid getting into personal details to keep them comfortable. Consider taking advantage of one-on-one online sessions. You can also join smaller study groups with like-minded students to foster a more comfortable collaborative environment. 

How can I build a personal connection with students? 

Follow these steps to build a personal connection with students: 
1. Encourage students to turn on their webcams during sessions.
2. Use their names frequently, and share personal stories.
3. Show genuine interest in their progress and well-being.
4. Utilize icebreakers and team-building exercises to foster a sense of community.

How can I ensure fair assessment for students?

To ensure fair assessments of your students, offer flexible scheduling options for students from different regions. Consider asynchronous assessments for some activities, allowing students to complete tasks within a specific timeframe suitable for their time zones. Additionally, throw surprise tests and quizzes to measure their progress.

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