Development of a training program for the practice of tutoring in disadvantaged neighbourhoods: a pilot project

Why develop a tutoring training program?

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the learning of Quebec children. School closures, frequent withdrawals of children from classes due to infections, adaptations to distance education and the set of health measures imposed by governments have certainly been stressful elements for our children and have disrupted the quality of their learning. To date, some OECD countries have already documented the presence of significant learning losses in primary and secondary school children, particularly in language and mathematics, and in disadvantaged environments (see Haeck & Larose, 2022). In Quebec, OPES and the Ministry of Education are currently studying reading loss in elementary school children. Preliminary results suggest significant losses among the most vulnerable Quebec children.

In this context, the Quebec government launched in January 2021 a national tutoring program for students the most vulnerable. This program invites current, substitute or retired school personnel, as well as college and university students, to offer their services in exchange for financial compensation.

Data from recent meta-analyses on the impacts of tutoring in disadvantaged environments support the Quebec government’s decision to invest in this support measure (Dietrichson et al., 2017; Nickow, Oreopoulos, & Quan, 2020). In particular, they show that tutoring is one of the most impactful supports for children’s language and mathematics learning and that its reach is greater than that of, for example, specialized summer camps, after-school programs, cognitive-behavioural interventions, and student or teacher coaching and mentoring. However, they also inform us that not all tutoring programs generate positive and significant effects on children’s learning and that it is important for schools to ensure that the implementation of the measure meets certain quality standards. As we pointed out in a paper on mentoring in schools (Larose, 2012), the training of program coordinators (or trainers) as well as that of the tutors who work with students is one of the key elements of quality implementation. Unfortunately, too few tutoring programs invest in training. Research indicates that most schools or public or private organizations that mentor tutors invest very little time in this process, limiting themselves to checking the tutor’s personal and legal background and informing him or her, via the WEB, of the values, rules and principles of tutoring (Larose, 2012).

Project Objectives Tutoring Training

In this context, we would like to start a pilot project aimed at co-constructing and evaluating tutoring training in the area of reading and writing at the primary level. This training would be aimed primarily at pedagogical advisors and trainers who work with elementary schools in disadvantaged areas and who are responsible for implementing tutoring. Specifically, three objectives are targeted by this pilot project.  
    1. To co-construct, with educational consultants and our research team, training that is consistent with research evidence on tutoring and children’s French learning and that remains responsive to the needs and constraints of low-income schools.
    1. Implement a first version of the training in a few elementary schools in disadvantaged areas that use tutors.
  1. To evaluate on a large scale the impact of the training program on the quality of tutor-tutored relationships, tutored students’ learning, and tutors’ feelings of competence based on an experimental study.

Research team

SImon Larose, Ph. D.

Université Laval

Director – Education OPES

Stéphane Duchesne, Ph. D.

Université Laval

Erick Falardeau, Ph. D.

Université Laval

Sylvana Côté, Ph. D.

Université de Montréal

Director – OPES

Catherine Haeck, Ph. D.

Université du Québec à Montréal

Co-director OPES

Isabelle Ouellet-Morin, Ph. D.

Université de Montréal

Director – OPES innovation axis

In partnership with: