Indiana Wesleyan University - Case Study

The tutoring program at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) located in the Center for Student Success (CSS) has increased in numbers each year but the process and technology used to manage the program has not been evaluated or changed to keep up with the increased numbers of students needing tutors.  The annual growth rate for tutor requests each year was 22.26%.

After an anecdotal program review it was determined that management of the tutoring program were ineffective and was hindering services to the students.   It also became clear that data was not being captured that could prove the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of tutoring program.  Tutor clerks were spending too much time entering information into the old database without the ability to run beneficial reports.   The time the tutor clerks spent hand entering information in the database system was not a cost effective use of time and did not allow for any evaluative reports or data to be collected.  It also did not allow time to communicate and follow up with tutors and tutees to determine if the tutor/ tutee assignment was beneficial.

It was discovered through research and discussions that several gaps in the current tutoring technology existed and could be improved regarding the management and tracking of the tutoring program. 

Methodology

The purpose of this study was to measure changes in the tutoring process that resulted from the implementation of a new software program.  This was accomplished by evaluating the current program through documenting current processes, surveying current tutors, and tutees, and interviewing tutor clerks during the fall semester.  Both quantitative data and qualitative data were important in the project to assess current practices and determine the impact of the technology change and continuous improvement initiative. This design gave a holistic view of the current processes.

Available data were gathered from the past five years to analyze, evaluate and gain a broader perspective of the program.  These data included the number of tutor requests each semester, the number of tutor requests filled each semester and survey results from tutors and tutees.  Data were available for ten semesters.

Different software programs were explored through online demonstrations by the developing company, one on-site visit to another institution and several meetings with the IT department at IWU.  After gathering information on various products (and convincing IT that we didn’t want them to write a program for us), the AccuTrack software was chosen.

AccuTrack is a database software program that manages and maintains the tutoring program by automating the data collection and reporting.   AccuTrack automatically updates with student data from the university’s record system, including demographics, ID pictures, schedules and grades.

 With AccuTrack tutor clerks have the ability to generate up to 80 different reports including tutoring assignments, grade improvements, payroll, usage of tutors for each subject area, peak tutoring days/weeks/months, individual usage reports for each student.  These reports contain valuable information that can be used to improve the management of the tutoring program.  Tutor clerks can also push F6 and any information on the computer screen is automatically changed into an Excel spreadsheet.

A click of a button sends an email to both tutor and tutee which lets them know they have been assigned to each other.  The email contains all the contact information for the other person.  Time is saved and errors are eliminated because AccuTrack pulls the contact information directly from the university’s records.

The installation and training on the new software took place at the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the spring semester.  The assistance of the information technology (IT) staff was a vital part of the installation of the new software.  They were included in the discussion, early on in the process.  Because of this they had buy-in to the product and were willing and prepared to assist in the initial installation.  AccuTrack has the ability to use student information already stored on server at IWU.  IT assisted in setting up the data scripts so that information could automatically be updated with student pictures, ID numbers, demographic information, class schedules, faculty information and course listings.

Initial training took place online with the help of Engineerica Systems, Inc., the developers of AccuTrack.  They assisted in the start-up of the program and demonstrated how to use the product.  Follow-up training and troubleshooting was available through the AccuTrack Training Manual, online support, the Acctrack Training CD and the 1-800 support line. 

After implementation of the software program the evaluation of the new tutoring process was conducted by replicating the pre-implementation data collection method.  Results were analyzed by comparison of pre and post data.  Observations were made of areas that had a significant change in the data. Particular attention was paid to try to improve the efficiency of the management of the tutoring program. 

Findings

The installation of AccuTrack occurred at the end of the fall semester and continued through Christmas Break.  The program was ready to be used at the beginning of the spring semester.     

Initially, when the process began, it was decided that it would be best to use the old program, Filemaker, and the new system simultaneously.  The idea was that the simultaneous use of both products would decrease the likelihood of losing data, or causing a delay in students getting tutors.  After one week of using AccuTrack the tutor clerks requested that Filemaker no longer be used.  They were comfortable with AccuTrack and decided it was too time consuming to use both programs.  Filemaker was still available on the tutor clerks’ computer if they needed to look up old information, but new information was no longer being entered.

During, the Fall semester (using Filemaker) there were 507 requests for a tutor.  Of those, 461 of them received a tutor.  This is a 90.93% fill rate.  During the Spring semester (using AccuTrack), there were 519 requests for a tutor, of which 514 received a tutor.  This is a fill rate of 99.04%.  This is an increase of 8.11% of students that were matched with a tutor.

The two individuals that manage the tutoring program were interviewed as one of the initial steps of the project.  This was done to investigate their perspective on the current processes and how effective they believe those processes were.  They were interviewed again four months after the implementation of the program.  A comparison of those interviews reveals some positive changes in the process, significant differences and new issues that emerged due to the software change. 

When asked how the software has streamlined the tutoring program, they shared the following examples.

  • They can give tutors and tutees more information and accurate information.
  • They make fewer mistakes because the email is automated and information comes directly from the database.
  • There are fewer tutee complaints than in previous years.
  • They are less stressed because the information is more organized. 
  • They are knowledgeable and proficient at their jobs. 
  • They are able to export information immediately into an Excel file. 
  • They appreciate being able to look up information for faculty and students when they are called about an issue or question about a specific situation. 
  • It is easier for them to evaluate each tutoring group, as well as evaluate the tutoring program as a whole.
  • They are able to communicate with the tutors, tutees and faculty.

Time Difference between Filemaker and AccuTrack

Tutor clerks can now create and print various reports.  Several examples of these are reports on each student to see how many times they attended tutoring, how many absences they have, or how many hours a week a tutor worked.  They can also run reports to determine which courses are using the most tutors, and how many hours are being spent tutoring for a specific course.

Entering a tutoring request in AccuTrack has resulted in more efficiency.  Course listings are already populated.  Once the tutor clerk select the course the student need a tutor in, AccuTrack automatically populates the professor’s name and lists the available tutors for that particular course.  Information on this page can also be sorted by the date the application was received, the name of the tutee, the name of the tutor, the name of the class or the date the tutee received a tutor. 

Tutor clerks calculated how long, on average, a student would wait to get a tutor.  They based this on the date the Tutor Request form was received and the date the email was sent to tutor and tutee confirming they were assigned to each other.  Based on this information from Filemaker and AccuTrack, students received a tutor 3 days faster with the implementation of AccuTrack.

The baseline data for the tutee surveys were gathered at the end of the fall semester during the time when the old software was used. The new data were collected at the end of the spring semester after AccuTrack had been in place for four months.  The surveys distributed in the fall semester were identical to the surveys distributed in the spring semester.   Data from the two surveys were compared.  The tutee surveys revealed there was a 13.2% increase in the number of students who acknowledge they received a tutor quickly.  Tutees also showed a 5.4% improvement in their grades and great satisfaction with their tutors.

The data reveals that the use of AccuTrack greatly improved the tutoring program at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Karen Newhard, Director of TRiO SSS Program
Center For Student Success
Indiana Wesleyan University
Marion, IN

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