No. 2/2022: The Importance of Tutors’ Instructional Practices: Evidence from a Norwegian Field Experiment


We use high quality black box data from a large Norwegian field experiment, where students in the early grades in turn were pulled out of their regular classes and offered mathematics instruction in small homogenous groups, to investigate how the tutors adapted their instruction to the size and the average performance level of the groups. Using within-tutor variation, we find that tutors tailored their instruction to the average pretest scores in the small groups and offered individualized instruction, especially to low achievers. We also find that the instructional practices varied substantially between the tutors, from teacher-directed to student-oriented practices. We show that the largest achievement gains were associated with a subgroup of tutors who spent much instructional time with evasive students in the low achievers’ small groups (“inclusive individualization”). Finally, we show that the treatment effects were significantly larger in schools where the tutors practiced individualized and inclusive instruction for low achievers, compared to schools where the tutors had chosen student-centered practices and paid little attention to evasive students.