Apart but Connected: Online Tutoring and Student Outcomes during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Michela Carlana, Eliana La Ferrara
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the governments of most countries or- dered the closure of schools, potentially exacerbating existing learning gaps. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of an intervention implemented in Italian middle schools that provides free individual tutoring online to disadvantaged students dur- ing lock-down. Tutors are university students who volunteer for at least 3 hours per week. They were randomly assigned to middle school students, from a list of potential beneficiaries compiled by school principals. Using original survey data collected from students, parents, teachers and tutors, we find that the program sub- stantially increased students’ academic performance (by 0.26 SD on average) and that it significantly improved their socio-emotional skills, aspirations, and psycho- logical well-being. Effects are stronger for children from lower socioeconomic status and, in the case of psychological well-being, for immigrant children.
Keywords: tutoring, COVID-19, education, achievement, aspirations, socio- emotional skills, well-being