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April 11, 2015

Ms. Julie Bach

Writing Career Specialist
Hamline University
1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104
Dear Ms. Julie Bach:
On March 16, 2015, I requested permission to research whether it is feasible for Hamline
University to offer online tutoring services for students who need extra help for any
subjects. Since then, you have approved my request and I have completed my study on
this research topic. I would like to thank you for granting me permission to conduct the
research and form a conclusion of the topic. Enclosed, I have attached a copy of my
report with this letter.
In the past years, I have heard in the news and magazines that the online tutoring trend
has been growing significantly due to the technologies development. More and more
universities are implementing online tutoring services as effective tools to help students
to better reach academic success. As a senior at Hamline University, I noticed that even
though the Hamline University provides face-to-face tutors, it did not offer online
tutoring services. Therefore, I conducted this research to determine if Hamline University
could implement online tutoring for its students.
I started the project by conducting research on the Bush library database. I found some
useful articles, books, and journals to support the thesis of my research. I also developed
a questionnaire that was distributed to 33 Hamline University students to find if there
would be a significant desire to implementing online tutoring services. The 33
respondents to the survey indicated a strong desire for the implementation of an online
tutoring system at Hamline University. Lastly, I analyzed the information and came to the
conclusion that it is feasible, even necessary, for Hamline University to offer its students
online tutoring services.
Once again I appreciate the opportunity to conduct the research. I found the research
informative and interesting. I am confident in providing a sound conclusion due to this
studys review of enough information. I hope that you find my results informative and
conclusive as well.
Qingjing Xu
English 1800 students

Online Tutoring Services

Offering Online Tutoring Service in Hamline University

A Feasibility Report
Qingjing Xu
Professional Writing
Hamline University
April 12, 2015


Online Tutoring Services

The purpose of this report is to determine whether it is feasible for the Hamline
University to conduct online tutoring services for students who need extra help for any
subjects. The participants in this study were 33 Hamline University students who filled
out a questionnaire regarding their attitudes and preferences on using the online tutors to
help them to reach their academic success. Besides the questionnaire that was
distributed, research was also conducted through the relative articles, books, and journals
from the Bush library database. Based upon this research, it was determined that online
tutoring services would better help Hamline University students to reach academic
success compared to the face-to-face tutors. Most students would benefit from it due to
its convenience and effectiveness. The recommendations for its implementation are
included in this report.

Table of Contents
Cover Page

Online Tutoring Services




Research Methods

Figure 1 9
Figure 2 10
Figure 311





Appendix A: Questionnaire



Online Tutoring Services

On March 16, 2015, I was granted permission to perform a study to determine

whether it is feasible for the Hamline University to conduct online Tutoring services for
its students. The goal of the study was to investigate the effectiveness and benefits of the
online tutoring services. Also, the purpose of the study was to determine Hamline
University students attitudes and interests in adopting new online tutoring services. The
following report provides the findings of my study.
Based on my preliminary research, Hamline Universitys six-year graduation rate
is 65% and retention rate is 83% (Hamline University Office of Institutional Research,
2015). Given that effective tutoring services have a positive impact on retention and
degree attainment for students (Reinheimer & McKenzie, 2011), it is important for
Hamline students to be provided opportunities to get help from tutors across many majors
in the hopes of increasing academic success and graduation rates.
The current problem is that there are about 2,500 undergraduate students at
Hamline University with limited hours for tutoring and writing center services. For
example, students are limited to an hour per week to get help from writing tutors. Most
tutors are Hamline students who have been recommended by faculty for their aptitude on
the specific subject and their personal characteristics. Therefore, tutoring outside school
hours becomes a hassle and inconvenience for both tutors and students who have tight
schedules. Tutors set up schedules when they are available and wait for people to visit
them at a pre-designated table.
Because the tutoring times are limited, it is not surprising to see many students
crowd around the same table waiting for tutors. Each student may only talk to the tutors
for ten minutes due to others waiting. Besides, lots of students who live off-campus may

Online Tutoring Services

not be able to meet with tutors in the fixed hours, so they lose opportunities to get help
from the program. This is the same at the writing center, where each student is limited to
one hour every week to receive tutoring assistance. It is difficult for writing tutors to
correct a paper on the spot with limited time to process and understand the purpose of the
writing assignment. Because of this added pressure to the tutor, it likely diminishes the
quality of the review.
Given that as more students become accustomed to technology, the competition
for online tutoring services is likely to heat up (Chediak, 2005, p. 1). Hamline
University should consider providing students a more flexible, convenient and effective
tutoring system through the Internet.
There are many documented benefits of having an online tutoring service. The top
benefit of an online tutoring services is that the convenience. Students who do not need
instant feedback could submit questions online. The tutor could then notify the student
when his or her comprehensive response is available. By doing so, tutors could better
focus on helping students who have more complex problems in face-to-face tutoring
Expanding the writing center online could provide more appointments for
students who need extra help on their papers. Hamline students could email papers to
writing tutors, instead of having to travel to the tutors at the writing center. By doing so,
tutors will have more time available to help students. Also, students could document the
comments that are emailed back to them for future study purposes. In this instance,
[]A student using online tutoring may need to boost their previous learning in order to

Online Tutoring Services

grasp what they are learning now and with an online tutor this problem can be quickly
resolved (Funk, 2013, para. 9).
More and more universities noticed the growing trend of online tutoring services
and have successfully adopted it. Students can connect with an e-instructor and interact
with a live tutor through these services. They can also submit their writing for any class
to their online writing lab in order to get help. Not only that, but they are able to submit a
question and receive a reply from a tutor before the deadline. Dang and Rogers (2008)
pointed out that In 2005, a study by the Consortium, an online research group, found
that 2.6 million students in the United States received online tutoring or online courses,
compared to 1.9 million students in 2003 (para. 8).
The following sections will provide additional insight into the research
methodology and the criteria used to direct this study. The results, conclusion, and
recommendations that followed the analysis of the data collected will also be stated in the
following sections of this report.

Online Tutoring Services

Research Methods

I conducted the following research in order to better understand the needs and
concerns of the participants. It also helped me to make further recommendations for
improving the Hamline University tutoring system.

I conducted internet research for informative material that would benefit my

I visited Hamline Universitys websites on the existing tutoring services and

writing center program.

I conducted research for related articles, journals, and books through the Bush

library database.
I developed a questionnaire regarding Hamline University students attitudes

and interests in using online tutoring services.

I distributed 33 questionnaires to 33 Hamline University students.
I analyzed and compiled the summary of those responses and transformed them

into graphic and statistical information.

I compared the pros and cons between face-to-face tutors and online tutoring

I analyzed the data and made my recommendations according to the following criteria:

Would students be more willing to use the online tutoring services?

Would the online tutoring services help students reach academic success?
Is there enough demand to require Hamline University to conduct online

tutoring services?
Will students benefit from online tutoring services?

In order to get a better understand of students interest in using online tutoring

services at Hamline University, I developed a questionnaire on whether Hamline
University should conduct online tutoring services for students who need extra help for

Online Tutoring Services

any subjects. The questionnaire contains 16 questions regarding the research topic. A pool
of 33 Hamline University students was selected to complete it at an arranged time.
The results of one of the demographic question were important to this specific
topic because it presents the relationship between the students living conditions and
willingness to use the online tutoring services. The following Figure 1 illustrates that
67% of students live in off-campus housing while only 33% students live in on-campus
housing. Due to this situation, I assume that students who are living further away from
the Hamline University campus would be more likely to use the online tutoring services
due to the convenience of it. Compared to the face-to-face tutoring services, students do
not need to waste their time on travel to meet a tutor in the Hamline University tutoring
center. Instead, they could simply email their papers or questions to a real-time online
tutor and get the solutions or comments they need during their expected time spot. The
results of this demographic question indicate the huge potential demands of online
tutoring services for Hamline University students who are live in off- campus housing.

Figure 1. Most students live in off-campus housing and would benefit from online
tutoring services.

Online Tutoring Services


Calfee (2007) pointed out the relationship between online tutoring and student
academic success. Calfee discovered that Those in the others category had a success
rate of 67.41 percent, statistically significantly lower than the 75.28 percent success rate
of the 267 students who had used the online services (p. 78). To further test Calfees
research results, in my questionnaire, one of the questions asked regarded students belief
that online tutoring services would help them reach academic success. The following
Figure 2 shows the results, in which 73 percent students believe that online tutoring
services would better help them to reach academic success.
Therefore, the results of this figure suggest that conducting online tutoring
services at Hamline University is feasible because it could improve Hamline students
graduation rates due to helping students to better reach academic success. It is also proves
Reinheimer and McKenzies claim that effective tutoring services have a positive impact
on retention and degree attainment for students (2011).

Figure 2. Students believe the online tutoring services would help them reach academic
To deeply explore students attitudes based on my research topic, one question
directly asked these students whether they think Hamline University should offer online

Online Tutoring Services


tutors. Figure 3 shows that 85 percent students think Hamline University should offer it
while only 15 percent students said No. The information gathered from this specific
question dictates that a majority of students demand and prefer to have the online tutoring
services conducted at Hamline University

Figure 3. Students prefer that Hamline University conduct online tutoring services.
Besides the statistic information, The University of Illinois has successfully
adopted a new online tutoring service called smarthinking. Students can connect with
an e-instructor and interact with a live tutor through this service. They can also submit
their writing for any class to their online writing lab in order to get help. Not only that,
but they are able to submit a question and receive a reply from a professional tutor before
the deadline. One of the advantages of working with a company like SMARTHINKING
is the availability of professional tutors to work with the students. (The Benefits of 24/1
Online Tutoring, 2010, p. 3). Additionally, Mendicino, Razzaq, and Heffernan (2009) also
found that: New intelligent tutoring systems that guide students through math problems
much the same way human tutors do have been successful in helping students learn math
in the classroom (p. 331).

Online Tutoring Services


After reviewing my research materials and questionnaire responses, I have
concluded that conducting online tutoring services at Hamline University is feasible.
Both tutors and students could benefit from it due to its convenience and effectiveness.
Similar universities such as the University of Illinois have been able to successfully
implement online tutoring services.
The data collected from the questionnaires indicates that there is enough demand
at Hamline University to require online tutoring services. Due to most of the students
who answered the questionnaires living in off-campus housing, online tutoring could help
them save time compared to the face-to-face tutoring centers. Besides, over half of the
sample-size students believe that online tutoring services would help them reach

Online Tutoring Services


academic success. Therefore, Hamline University should consider conducting or even

expanding the tutoring services online due to the huge desire.

After studying the results of the research, the recommendation is that Hamline
University should implement an online tutoring service to help students reach academic
success. They should start with the online writing tutors to determine students reaction to
this project. To lower the project risk, I would recommend Hamline University not
replace the face-to-face tutoring centers; instead, they should first try expanding the
writing tutoring online and gain experiences on it. Once they feel confident with building
successful online tutoring services, they could try to have further online tutors in other
For people who are interested in follow this feasibility study proposal, I would
advise them to arrange some interviews with tutors who have been working at Hamline

Online Tutoring Services


University. To do so, one could gain different perspectives on this topic from not only the
students but also the tutors and faculty. Also, one should increase the sample size in order
to get more accurate statistical results.

Almassaad, A., & Alotaibi, K. (2012). The attitudes and opinions of tutees and tutors
towards using cross-age online tutoring. Psychology Research, 2(4), 247-259.
Calfee, J. (2007). Online tutoring and student success in developmental writing courses.
Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 15(1), 77-80.
Dang, & Rogers (2012, May 30). The growing phenomenon of private tutoring: Does it
deepen human capital, widen inequalities, or waste resources? The World Bank
Research Observer, 23(2), 161-200.
Funk, K. (2013, May 3). Online tutoring: What are the benefits. How to
Retrieved from

Online Tutoring Services


Hawkridge, D., & Wheeler, M. (2010). Tutoring at a distance, online tutoring and tutoring
in second life. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 2-5.
Mendicino, M., Razzaq, L., & Heffernan, N. T. (2009, Spring). A comparison of
traditional homework to computer-supported homework. Journal of Research on
Technology in Education, 41(3), 331-359.
Price, L., John, T.E., Richardson, & Jelfs, A. (2007) Face-to-face versus online
tutoring support in distance education. Studies in Higher Education, 32(1), 1-20.
Rheinheimer, D.C. & McKenzie, K. (2011). The impact of tutoring on the academic
success of undeclared students. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 41(2),
Shellenbarger, S. (2013, November 12). The invasion of the online tutors. Wall Street
Journal. Retrieved from

Online Tutoring Services


Appendix A: Questionnaire
Greetings! I am a senior from Hamline University. I am currently doing a
feasibility research for my ENG 1800 class. The following questionnaire contains a series
of questions regarding the subject of my research: is it feasible for Hamline University
to conduct online tutoring services.
The purpose of this questionnaire is to determine Hamline students attitudes
toward conducting an online tutoring service at Hamline University. My target group is
students who are currently studying at Hamline University.
Thank you for agreeing to take part in this survey. This survey should only take 58 minutes to complete. Be assured that all answers you provide will be kept in the
strictest confidentiality. The information you provide will be used only for research
purposes. Thanks again for your time and suggestions.

What is your major?

--------------------------2. What is your education status?

Online Tutoring Services

Freshman (less than 32 credits)
Sophomore (32-64 credits)
Junior (65-96 credits)
Senior (more than 96 credits)
3. Are you currently employed full-time, part-time, or not employed?
Not employed
4. Do you live in on-campus student housing or in off-campus housing?
On-Campus housing
Off-Campus housing
5. Do you use the tutoring program or writing center at Hamline University?
6. How often do you visit the tutors (writing tutors included) per week?
Once a week
Twice a week
More than twice a week
7. How long you have to wait for tutors?
Under 5 minutes
6-10 minutes
11-15 minutes


Online Tutoring Services


Over 15 minutes
8. Are you satisfied with the tutoring program and writing center at Hamline University?
9. If you are not satisfied with the tutoring program at Hamline University, please explain
your reasons:

10. Have you ever heard of or used online tutoring assistance?

11. Would you feel it is easier to get help from tutors online?
12. How likely are you support Hamline University in offering online tutoring assistance?
Extremely likely
Very likely
Somewhat likely
Not so likely
Not at all likely
13. Do you feel that online tutoring assistance would better help you reach academic

Online Tutoring Services

14. Do you think Hamline University should offer online tutoring?
15. Which of the following better describes your computer skills?
High-I am comfortable with electronic mail and web browsing.
Moderate-I can get by if there is not too much typing or special software.
Low-I don't like to use computers.
15. Please write down your expectations, suggestions, or concerns about conducting
online tutoring assistance at Hamline University.