Case Studies

Tutoring Strategies and Work Samples

The following are samples of our work with a few of our students. The names of students have been changed for their privacy.

1. Grade 12 biology student having trouble memorizing biology concepts

Background

Jennifer was completing her last year of studies. She had scored low 60s% in biology 11, and her goal was to achieve an 80% in biology 12. Furthermore, she wanted to complete her biology course online through the Vancouver Learning Network (VLN) rather than at her school.

Challenges

  • Jennifer told us that her obstacles included lack of confidence and poor short-term memory were her obstacles.
  • Taking the biology course online meant Jennifer had no classroom time where a teacher taught the lessons.
  • Jennifer had to practice time management to be sure she could successfully complete the course online while also keeping up with her other subjects at school.
  • Biology involves memorizing large amounts of information which was challenging for Jennifer.

Our Approach

  • In the first session, our mentor worked with Jennifer to create a timeline of deadlines for when each assignment, quiz, and test was due. This allowed Jennifer to complete all the requirements by the assigned deadlines.
  • Jennifer worked with her mentor for 6 hours per week (2-hour lessons three times a week) for the first two months.
  • Jennifer was introduced to productive learning strategies, such as condensed notes and organized use of flashcards.
  • To help her prepare for multiple choice questions, we assigned multiple choice tests on every chapter, keeping track of her performance and the time it took to complete the tests.
  • We decreased the lesson times to 4 hours/week after the two months as Jennifer’s grades had already increased to high 70%’s and she was working hard on her own.

Results

  • Jennifer successfully finished the course on schedule.
  • She scored 79% on her midterm.
  • Her final grade in biology 12 was 89%.

Comment from Jennifer’s mom

“You likely heard from Michael that Jennifer finished with an 89% in BIO 12. She is very pleased and feeling a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Thanks to Michael and to you for helping her achieve a key goal – success in a difficult subject.”

 


 

2. Grade 8 maths student who didn’t enjoy maths

Background

Emily was half way into grade 8 when her parents first contacted us. She was receiving poor grades in math, and her goal was to achieve 75%. Because of her poor grades, she was not confident in her math skills, and understandably, disliked math.

Challenges

  • We wanted to quickly raise Emily’s confidence in her math skills, and in turn, increase her enjoyment of the subject as soon as possible.
  • We also had to increase Emily’s grade from a 50- 60% mark to a competitive level.
  • Emily made a lot of simple mistakes in solving math problems, costing her marks on tests and quizzes.
  • Emily was also struggling with exam anxiety.

Our Approach

  • We started working with Emily twice a week for 1.5 hours each lesson.
  • We started on the latest chapter Emily was learning in school to ensure she would be prepared for any potential upcoming quiz/test.
  • Emily practiced many questions during each session as we watched to catch her mistakes and explain the correct approach.
  • We provided Emily with a step by step approach to solving the problems.
  • Once we caught her up to speed with the current chapter in school, we started to work on the rest of the covered chapters to prepare her for the final exam.
  • Once her grades increased we reduced lesson times to 1 hour, twice a week.

Results

  • Emily listened and followed our instructions well.
  • Her math grade and confidence increased.
  • She overcame her exam anxiety.
  • Emily is scoring near perfect marks on her tests and quizzes.

Comments from Emily’s dad

Emily is now in grade 11, and she is scoring near perfect marks in school. Math is now her favourite subject in school. We have received the following comments from her father over the last few years:

“Emily is getting a 78% on her first term in Math. Last year a 68%. She is also very positive about Math, it is no longer her least favourite subject:)”

“Grade 6 our daughter had a C average. Her current mark in Grade 10 math is sitting at 94.”

 


 

3.   Grade 6 math student with special learning ability

Background

Luke joined us around the end of his grade 5 year. He had been diagnosed with Output Disorder and ADHD and was struggling in math. He was not receiving the extra support he needed in school, and it caused his parents a lot of stress and anxiety.

Challenges

  • Luke needed a 100% customized, one on one instruction from a mentor whom he could connect well with to improve his basic math skills.
  • Luke was at first very hesitant and resistant to help from a ‘tutor’.
  • Luke lost focus quickly.

Our Approach

  • We asked his parents to use the term ‘homework coach’ instead of ‘tutor’, since Luke played sports and was used to having coaches.
  • We started with only 1-hour lessons once a week until he bonded with his homework coach. His mentor was able to create a friendly and safe environment for him to enjoy learning.
  • His grades did not improve for the remainder of the grade 5 year (2 months) as his busy schedule did not allow for addition of a second class during the week.
  • In grade 6 Luke started seeing his mentor twice a week for 1.5 hours each lesson. By this time, he had accepted his tutoring lessons completely.
  • Although Luke was answering questions perfectly during the tutorials by the second month, his knowledge did not translate into his test marks.
  • His mentor found that Luke needed a lot of white space, large fonts, and spread out questions to keep him focused. Since school tests are not customized for Luke’s needs, this was communicated to Luke’s parents, and they asked the teacher for a special testing structure.

Results

  • three months after starting grade 6 (November 2014), Luke received his first A in math and has continued to progress ever since.

 


4.   Grade 3 student who lacked focus

Background

Nathan started with us when he was in grade 3. He did not receive enough tests or assessments from school, so his parents wanted us to work with him to ensure he was advancing his skills in math and sciences.

Challenges

  • Nathan did not enjoy math.
  • Nathan’s focus was poor, and he could not keep his concentration for longer than a few minutes at a time.
  • During the lessons he became easily distracted and side tracked.
  • The first lesson lasted 30 minutes as Nathan lost his focus and interest completely.

Our Approach

  • We worked on preparing fun and educational material customized for Nathan, such as math puzzles, science experiments, etc. before the lessons to increase his liking for math and sciences.
  • As Nathan’s liking for math and science increased, we started to work on his focus to help him concentrate for longer periods of time, as this is a key skill for all grade levels.
  • The lesson times were increased by 15 minute increments until an ideal focus level was reached.

Results

  • After just three lessons, Nathan’s interest in math and sciences increased substantially, and he can now keep his focus on a task for 1.5-2 hours at a time with short break times.
  • Nathan is ahead of his class, studying grade 4 material with his tutor.
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