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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Research Study: Tuition Not Effective

In The Straits Times today, 25th September 2013, there is a report on a study on the effectiveness of tuition by Euston Quah. The author writes "that the potentially positive influence of a private tutor over one or a few subjects' grades does not seem to lead to improvements in the grades of the remaining subjects. Instead, the time taken away from studying those other subjects may lead to a decline in the overall academic performance of the student."

Study Shows That Tuition DOES Help
In layman speak, the above words mean the following...
(1) the subjects where the child has tuition DO improve
(2) the subjects where the child has no tuition DO NOT

Now, why in the world would you expect your child's Math tuition to improve his/her English exam scores?

Logical Argumentation Shows That Tuition Can Be Damaging
The rest of the article written addresses the points as follows:
(1) Private tutors are not regulated. Their quality can be poor.
(2) Children learn that they have a recourse at home, and don't have to pay attention in class.
(3) Teachers know that kids have tuition, so they don't bother to teach properly.
(4) Too much tuition has opportunity costs. Kids have no time to play.

Whilst I agree with all of these points, Euston Quah's numbers do not model these arguments. These arguments are just that... logical arguments. Parents with children in school have been highlighting these logical arguments on the basis of personal opinion. So, this is Euston's Quah personal opinion? Well and good!

Parents Still Have Confidence in MOE. Really?
Next, Euston Quah writes...
The prevalence of tuition per se does not say anything about the confidence level in the Singapore education system. It could simply be the consequence of an increased climate of competition, which results in parents over investing in education, private or public.

This is the part that made me laugh. Heeheeheeheehee! After the year long Singapore Conversation, letters to the forum pages, messages on MOE's Facebook pages, emails to politicians... where parents tell MOE  in-its-face that they think the schools TEACH LESS TEST MORE, he still believes that "the prevalence of tuition does not say anything about the confidence level in the Singapore education system."

Study Was Published in 2005
If a research study was published in 2005, then the data was collected somewhere between 1998 to 2003 (depending on the length of the peer review process that determines whether a research study is worth publishing). Today, we are on the cusp of 2014. The Teach Less Learn More initiative was unleashed upon our unsuspecting children circa 2005-2006.

Euston Quah's study is outdated. His results no longer reflect realities today, after the implementation of Teach Less Learn More. The man is living in the past. This is why he holds onto ridiculous notions like  "the prevalence of tuition does not say anything about the confidence level in the Singapore education system."

Today, there is a crisis of confidence in the schools' ability to teach effectively to the standards the PSLE tests.

Study Was Done On Secondary School Students
It is the primary schools that test beyond what they teach. Little Boy is in secondary school now and I am pleased to note that his Teachers do teach. Even those who teach poorly will point him to materials and resources for independent learning. Additionally, Little Boy is older now. He is truly more independent. He searches out materials on his own in the library.

He truly needs no external help.

You can't generalize a study done with a sample of secondary school students to a population of primary school students. It's like saying "Our study has found that students menstruate" done with a sample of 14 year old girls... and then saying that all school children menstruate. You can't generalize a study done in Year 2000 to 2014. It's like measuring global temperatures in Year 2000 and then saying in 2014 that there is no global warming.

Euston Quah Must Know These Limitations To His Study
Euston Quah must know the above limitations to his study. He must know that his article masquerades as reputable science to disguise personal opinion formed in an era now past.

If this is the state of R&D in MOE related intellectual capital generating institutions, then no wonder the whole country's parents (barring the minority wealthy and minority gifted) are groaning in pain.

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