One of the most important roles for private tutors is setting, recording and marking relevant practice assignments for their students. Effective retrieval practice is well understood to be one of the most vital aspects of teaching and learning.
Countless educational research articles have been written evaluating the importance of effective practice. More recently, I have gained an even better understanding of how practice helps to facilitate deep and meaningful understanding. Websites such as ‘Retrieval Practice.org’ and ‘CogSciSci’ are amongst those which detail the benefits of lots and lots of well-designed practice (or ‘shed-loads of practice’ – ‘SLOP’ – as it is sometimes referred).
For tutors, this poses a problem. Unlike classroom teachers, tutors probably will not have substantial resources purchased for them. Most tutors rely on accumulating a range of relevant resources (or producing them from scratch) over the course of their career. Experienced professional tutors will no doubt have a range of worksheets, revision guides and textbooks to draw upon (even if, technically speaking, it’s a breach of copyright law to photocopy pages). Less experienced tutors may be fortunate enough to have resources provided for them by any agencies they work with – a dropbox with some scanned exercises, checklists or even textbook pages (don’t tell an IP lawyer!).
Once tutors have got hold of decent resources, actually using them is not a great deal easier. They have to customise them, print them, store them and transport them. Then they need to hope the student remembers to do what they were set (and doesn’t lose it) by their next tutorial. All of this poses logistical challenges for both the tutor (which can be time-consuming) and for the student, who we are hoping is reliable enough.
Digital assignments can be a great improvement. The idea of emailing a student their revision work isn’t new although it shifts the logistical demands to the student or their parent, which may not work out. A fair few apps have been developed which have multiple choice quizzes or downloadable worksheets. These can be useful, but they are fairly limited. Meaningful practice and preparation for a sophisticated examination or academic course cannot be distilled into a multiple-choice quiz.
Now, however, tutors have access to technology which enables them to access a huge range of content and questions which they can set for their students. Get My Grades enables tutors to provide dynamic online textbook content for their students (without any copyright infringement). However, most importantly, it also allows students to be set practice assignments with a wide variety of question types including essays, shorter written answer questions, or mathematical calculations. With over 75,000 questions organised by concept and difficulty level, tutors now have access to premium digital resources designed with them in mind. They can design their own custom digital assignments and automatically track when they have been set, see when students have completed them, and even mark them remotely.
Get My Grades is leading the way on digital assignment capability in the tuition sector. In collaboration with tutors across the country, Get My Grades enables tutors to set custom work which is more relevant for students, cannot be lost or damaged, and can be marked and tracked remotely. The benefits are wide-ranging, saving tutors time and money. However, most importantly, this enables tutors to have a greater impact on their students’ educational outcomes.