Is private supplementary tutoring effective? A longitudinally detailed analysis of private tutoring quality in China

Abstract

In general, private supplementary tutoring is considered an effective means of improving academic achievement by parents. However, previous studies have produced partial or inconclusive results regarding its effectiveness. Thus, the present study conducted a comprehensive analysis based on a specially designed longitudinal survey of private supplementary mathematics tutoring among middle school students in China. The hierarchical linear analysis did not show a considerably significant positive effect of regular private tutoring, even when such tutoring continued throughout the summer vacation and school semester. The data also allowed a deeper inquiry into the role of the quality, quantity, and applicability of private tutoring. In addition, the heterogeneous effect of private supplementary tutoring across students with different mathematics achievement levels was explored, with possible explanations including the different learning styles of students from different groups, the ceiling effect of the testing tool, and the different learning needs of different groups of students. These results suggest that parents should carefully select private tutoring for their children, and that the government should provide more comprehensive professional guidelines to regulate the industry.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Given the concerns about endogeneity and instrumental variables analysis, an instrumental analysis was conducted that used two rubrics for the survey items: “My classmates or friends participate in PT, so I choose to participate in PT”; and “Few classmates or friends participate in PT, so I choose not to participate in PT.” The results (not reported here, but available upon request) showed that the findings of the instrumental variable method were roughly the same as those of the hierarchical linear model.

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Funding

This research was funded by Beijing Philosophy and Social Sciences Grant (18JYC025).

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L.W contributed conception and design of the study and organized the database; Y.Z., Y.D., Y.H. and X.M. performed the statistical analysis; L.W and Y.Z wrote the first draft of the manuscript; and wrote sections of the manuscript. All authors contributed to manuscript revision, read and approved the submitted version.

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Correspondence to Lidong Wang.

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Appendix A

Appendix A

See Table 7.

Table 7 Correlation analysis

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Zhang, Y., Dang, Y., He, Y. et al. Is private supplementary tutoring effective? A longitudinally detailed analysis of private tutoring quality in China. Asia Pacific Educ. Rev. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12564-021-09671-3

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Keywords

  • Private supplementary tutoring
  • Mathematics achievement
  • Heterogeneous effect
  • Instructional quality
  • China