The one-to-one teaching model: Benefits and pitfalls
One-to-one teaching model: Benefits and pitfalls
Carey and Grant (Carey & Grant, 2014) investigate students’ and teachers’ perceptions of one-to-one teaching model in conservatoire settings. The one-to-one model is the typical model for instrumental music tuition which has a long history in the learning and development of instrumental musicians. It is considered the standard for instrumental learning and as such, is seldom challenged as a mode of training for musicians.
However, challenge is looming in both the cost the one-to-one model imposes on institutions and the mode of teaching utilised, which is characterised as teacher centred. Economic rationalisation has resulted in higher education institutions decreasing funding for high-cost tuition modes such as the one-to-one model. Disagreement from educational psychologists suggest the one-to-one model can be detrimental to student learning, stating arguments such as teacher dependency, little autonomy and choice for the student, and very little empirical evidence the one-to-one model is an effective pedagogical model.
In their study, Carey and Grant (2014) conducted semi-structured interviews of teachers and students in a conservatoire setting in an effort to improve the understanding of the nature of one-to-one models of instrumental tuition.
One of the main positives for this model of teaching is the ability to tailor tuition to the needs of the student. Both teachers and students cited this as a very important factor in their musical training. Additionally, the model provides a mentor or role model which form some, is part of a model of motivation they need to inspire them to greater achievement and to advance their instrumental ability.
The quality of the relationship was highlighted as important, with some students citing that the model was more of a friendship than an teacher-student situation. Some teachers, however, saw that this type of relationship could jeopardise the progress of the student. finding the right balance of friend versus teacher was considered important.
Student dependency on the teacher due to the style of pedagogical approach was addressed. Teachers tried to ensure students take responsibility for their learning and many students also took this view. However, some students found adapting to the teachers’ style difficult and expressed a struggle to maintain their own learning style. Some teachers were regarded as authoritarian in their teaching style and did not make allowances for differences in students and their needs. There is well-documented research in their area of teaching styles, the ability to meet students’ needs, and the resultant effects on student outcomes. Teacher inflexibility and inability to adapt their pedagogical style to assist in the learning needs of students has detrimental consequences for student achievement. In the one-to-one model in which teaching occurs in closed settings, it may be difficult for students to assert for changes in teaching style to meet their needs. This is one area where empirical research of the one-to-one teaching model would be of benefit.
The research demonstrated there is great variability in what occurs in the one-to-one teaching context. A range of pedagogical styles and techniques are employed, and in combination with the range of students and diversity of learning needs, the one-to-one model is complex.
All the participants reported that the model is invaluable for instrumental learning due to its “customisable nature, and its pedagogical effectiveness” (Carey & Grant, 2014, p. 17). The uniqueness of the model resides on both the teacher and student in their ability to negotiate appropriate pedagogical styles and relationship for improved learning outcomes. The cautions are the lack of autonomy experienced by some students due to the teacher-centred approach.
There are calls for more open and situated learning contexts such as collaborative learning environments . Collaborative learning environments can mitigate some of the risks of the one-to-one learning context as well as providing authentic skills necessary for survival in the professional world. The one-to-one model still remains essential, however, there may be other conceptions of instrumental teaching which may prove just as effective for a variety of similar and contrasting arguments.
Carey, G., & Grant, C. (2014). Teacher and student perspectives on one-to-one pedagogy: practices and possibilities. British Journal of Music Education, 32(01), 5-22.