Tutoring programs differ from mentoring although both are well-connected. Tutoring is typically defined as additional academic support and assistance to help students attain grade-level proficiency in basic skills and for others, to learn more advanced and challenging skills. Tutoring is usually focused on homework assignments, providing instructional support and fostering critical sets of skills and good habits, such as time-management, communication, and presentation skills. One can be tutored by class peers, older students, college students, and tutoring professionals possessing content knowledge and older adults. This is otherwise called in educational research and literature as “peer tutoring.” Such service is offered in different settings, but promoted more in higher education to prevent dropout among at-risk students.
Tutoring programs are also offered among affluent and middle class families to help students with assessment tests and increasing grades in order to gain access to more colleges and universities. Research shows that tutoring is moderately effective in improving student achievement, where tutored students outperformed their non-tutored peers in standardized tests and state competency tests (Devin-Sheehan, 1976; Fresko, 1985; Phelps, 1994). Plus, tutored students expressed positive perceptions and attitudes toward the subjects they are learning (Trapani, 1986).
Mentoring, on the other hand, involves a one-on-one relationship with an adult and a younger individual to share knowledge, skills, experience, and to provide social guidance. Normally, mentoring programs connect adults with a younger person with expected objectives to help youth develop life skills and goals, instill values, guide curiosity and encourage direction enriched by positive role-modeling and guidance. It is, however, a temporary relationship with the objective of helping the protégé develop an independent and autonomous life and outlook.
Many community-based organizations and after-school programs provide mentorship programs to help improve student academic performance, connect students with positive role-models, increase college aspirations and provide critical skills necessary for career and life. Research indicates that effective mentoring, especially among highly at-risk youth, was found to improve the overall well-being of children and youth, but requires a stronger and more intense long-lasting relationships (Flaxman, 1988 and Freeman, 1992).
It has been suggested that both tutoring and mentoring programs provide a stronger correlation to student success and academic achievement as students or youth build a stronger foundation and connection to their community. Adults and professionals who are more involved in student learning, youth development, and social support inside and outside classrooms become social agents of change. As such, students gravitate towards someone who can provide them the academic and social support they need. Reciprocally, tutors and mentors alike benefit from these programs as they can make a greater impact in students, school community, and society. For instance, tutors can relieve the pressure and stress on teachers trying to teach a large, often mixed-skills and abilities of classes. Plus, tutors help enrich education overall.
While tutors directly provide academic support with homework, tests, classroom work, and competency skills activities, mentors have an immediate and beneficial impact on student’s attitudes towards learning and their future plans. Mentors can have a significant broader influence, backed by community support and can recruit goodwill ambassadors along with mentors.
Most importantly, when tutoring and mentoring are provided together directly to students, it has the power to change student behaviors, perceptions, and outlook on life. Particularly, students feel a sense of belonging to their school community. These services can also include counseling and problem-solving session to help learners constructively address their issues with their teachers, school staff or their peers. These support structure and network of guidance can lead to a more positive outcomes, such as prevent school dropout, build self-esteem, increase attendance, facilitate transition from one grade level to higher grade level and help develop important life skills necessary in preparation for adulthood.