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Best practices and creation of an online tutoring center for accounting, finance, and economic disciplines.

INTRODUCTION

Most colleges and universities provide writing and math centers to help students with skills development. Fewer schools have in-house tutoring centers for accounting, finance, economics, and other business courses. Although most traditional residential and virtual learning institutions require their faculty to maintain office hours, students who attend brick and mortar institutions have physical access to faculty (Pfund, Rogan, Burnham; & Norcross, 2013). Student access to faculty is considerably different in a virtual learning environment, which depends on many factors including geographical location, time zone, computer accessibility and faculty availability. Therefore, expanded access to a broad spectrum of tutoring services becomes a natural extension of the institution's ability to provide access to faculty (Alternative to traditional office hours, 2006).

As with most universities, many institutions provide students access to writing and math tutoring centers. The development of a business tutoring center seemed to be a natural extension of existing services. Although the writing and math tutoring centers provide indirect instruction for business students, tutors lack the experience and training needed to assist business students in the accounting, finance, and economic disciplines.

To meet the needs of business students, the Math Center recruited, trained, embedded, and managed accounting, finance, and economics instructors to assist with business courses. The arrangement worked well for a period of time, but extensive word-of-mouth promotion led to a dramatic increase in demand for services. Without adequate funding from the Math Center to hire another tutor, a different solution was sought.

The accounting department was able to budget for two accounting faculty trained as tutors to work under the direction of the Math Center. After the first month the increasing student demand, the need for additional accounting tutors became apparent. The dean of the Kaplan University (KU) School of Business and Information Technology (SBIT) scheduled a meeting to discuss the possibility of adding a permanent, dedicated online business tutoring center to the budget. The Dean agreed to modify the operating budget to include an initial 10-week pilot program with five faculty tutors and limited Adobe Connect meeting room access. Based on approval from the Dean a steering committee established a schedule to meet the expected demand by students for expanded tutoring services.

Although the pilot Business Tutoring service availability was widely publicized, students continued to seek assistance from the math center; accordingly, an alternative plan was developed for presentation to the Dean. It was then decided that a formal business center was needed with expanded staffing to include not only accounting assistance but assistance in finance and economics as well. The Dean requested that the department chairpersons develop a formal budget proposal and structured business plan. Over a period of several weeks, the business department chairs developed a practical plan designed to meet the needs of business students. The plan included undergraduate and graduate program support. After careful consideration, the Dean accepted the proposal.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Despite the growth in online tutoring since the turn of the century, a review of the literature revealed few peer-reviewed articles on practical considerations when starting, managing, and evaluating online skills centers (Harrell, 2013). In 2012 the market research firm Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (GIA) (as cited in Crotty, 2012) released a study stating that the global private tutoring market is projected to surpass $102.8 billion by 2018. The expanding private tutoring market is motivated, in part, by the failure of standard education systems to meet the unique needs of business students. This expansion also coincides with growing desire to secure the best possible education in a highly competitive global economy (Crotty, 2012).

Increasing numbers of tutors will be serving online students. Brown (2014) identified two types of online tutoring services: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous tutoring allows the tutor and student to meet simultaneously in a virtual environment. Asynchronous tutoring incorporates a delayed instructor's response to a student's request for help (Brown, 2014). Dvorak (2004) stated that tutoring has been used to counteract higher failure rates and lower grade achievement experienced by students enrolled in schools that use the traditional classroom lecture system widely used in higher education.

The literature suggests that program administration is essential to the ultimate success of the tutoring center, as measured by retention and graduation of students. Administrators must organize the center, develop policies and procedures, and train staff and tutors. The quality and dedication of tutors themselves is critical to the center's success. As Rabow, Chin, and Fahimian (1999) stated, "Tutors can do what teachers and parents cannot manage: they can be patient, taking the time to observe, question, support, challenge, and applaud. They can move toward the true and total intelligence of their tutees" (p. 12).

Tutoring centers provide a variety of services customized to the needs of the individual institution of higher education. As a result, national organizations have sprung up, such as the Association for the Tutoring Profession (ATP), the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA), and the National College Learning Center Association (NCLCA), all designed to identify, aggregate, and present best practices. These organizations work with the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education as well as the Council for Learning Assistance and Developmental Education Associations (CLADEA) to develop and promote best practices in learning assistance.

ATP and CRLA direct their attention to addressing tutor needs. Truschel and Reedy (2009) reported that NCLCA has developed a certification specifically for non-tutoring learning center personnel. The certification identifies program standards that help develop higher quality program leadership. Identifying best practices, including characteristics of quality center management, effective tutor training, and quality tutoring delivery, leads to providing students with the necessary tools and abilities to successfully achieve their goals. According to Moberg (2010)
   Training these tutors, organization of their services, and
   management of the quality of the tutoring program stand out as key
   considerations in establishing and maintaining a quality writing
   support program. Whether writing centers stay within their bricks
   and mortar, move online, or blend their service delivery, the
   quality of their services will remain an essential part of the
   success of their students and their host school. (p. 6)


The Need for a Tutoring Center

Dvorak (2004) suggested that the pedagogy of the lecture system, in which professors pass on their knowledge, was dominant in on-ground education, despite an increasingly diverse population of students who may not learn well in the lecture system. Brown (2014) stated that a workable communication channel between the tutor and the student during synchronous online tutoring is essential to successful interactions. Three basic on-line communication options include instant messaging, talking on the phone, and video chatting. Brown also recommended that tutor and student should be connected through some form of collaborative website so that both can view and edit the same document or image (Brown, 2014). Technology allows that to occur easily through a document manager such as Google documents.

Tutoring center managers need significant resources to help determine best management practices (Dvorak, 2004). According to Bolman and Deal (1991), managers need to examine their programs through the political, symbolic, and structural frames, as well as the human resource aspect. By becoming aware of and integrating all these frames, managers can manage their centers more effectively. Dvorak (2000) stated that in order for tutoring programs to be more effective, they need to recognize the needs of their diverse clients, who range widely in age, gender, ethnicity, language, and economic status. Although college campuses differ in size, location, and type, the student population became more diverse, including more people of color, returning adults, and women (Dvorak, 2000). Many students are single parents who attend class online and complete class work at night or on weekends.

Dvorak (2001) suggested that one of the most important decisions in the development of the tutoring center is which services to offer. For example:

1. Do you want to provide individual or group tutoring?

2. Should students visit every week, by appointment, or as walk-ins?

3. Should tutors be professionals, volunteers, or peer tutors?

4. Do you want to offer other tutoring models in addition to face-to-face tutoring?

5. Have you considered the possibility of online tutoring?

According to Brown (2014) synchronous tutoring need not be expensive or complex, especially for schools that are just starting to offer online tutoring services. Some tools are costly and sophisticated; some are free or have low costs, such as Snap Appointments, TitanPad, Google Docs, Scriblink, Pen Tablet, and Wacom Banboo (Brown, n.d.). Brown suggested that every tutoring center has different needs based on budget, personnel, resources, and subjects offered. Each new tutoring center must do research to select the online tools most appropriate for the program and unique needs (Brown, 2014).

In Moberg's view, "The most important component in the success of a writing tutoring program is the methods employed by the tutors in the sessions" (2010, p. 4). With today's technological advances, most any method that is available in a face-to-face environment is also available online, including modeling, Socratic dialogue, collaboration, presentation, and lectures. "The online format is only a medium, not the curriculum itself. The curriculum, the service delivery model, and the methods are most successful when tailored to each individual student's strengths and needs (Moberg, 2010, p.4). Fullmer (2012) observed that online tutoring programs, with available professional tutors to guide students, provide an efficient way to reach larger numbers of students and still retain individualized instruction and practice.

Tutor Center Mission

Dvorak (2001) stated that the tutoring center manager should examine how the tutoring program fits into the mission of the institution and of the learning center. Dvorak (2004) discussed how Boylan (2004) emphasized the importance of having the center's mission aligned with that of the college or university. Goals and objectives should be developed to carry out the mission of the program. "For example, tutoring managers can target a number of courses to tutor, decide on a target student population, or enter a collaboration. These goals should be followed by objectives which should be measurable" (Dvorak, 2004, p. 42).

Truschel and Reedy (2009) studied the learning center missions of 107 websites and found that most learning center missions are committed to supporting and strengthening the academic experience of students. Several of the mission statements include phrases related to increasing students' self-reliance, enhancing student's self-regulation, and assisting students in developing academic and educational goals.

Tutoring centers focus on empowering students to reach their full academic potential and to provide a supportive learning environment. They also promote retention through mission statement phrases such as "to provide individualized instruction to promote retention' or 'to assist students in meeting demands of college level work." A more contemporary mission of a learning center is to provide access to online resources and databases. Learning centers now often include one or more computer labs, which are usually outfitted with a variety of software programs and Internet and e-mail access (Truschel & Reedy, 2009, p. 9). Some learning centers also maintain a library of reference and course materials.

Staffing and Training

Many 4-year colleges and universities try to hire student tutors rather than professionals to reduce cost, but they must still follow their institution's hiring policies (Dvorak, 2004). Graduate student tutors for most courses are relatively easy to find where graduate programs are offered. On the other hand, community colleges lose their students after their sophomore year and therefore must seek more reliable and stable staff (Dvorak, 2001). To do so, many campuses use websites such as monstertrak.com to post all of their tutor openings. Some universities also request tutor referrals from faculty. Other methods used to look for candidates include advertising in school newspapers and intercampus mailings and posting flyers (Dvorak, 2004).

The development and ultimate success of any tutoring center, whether on site or online, depends heavily upon not only the structure and administration of the program but also tutor training and the satisfaction tutors receive from performing their roles. Since 1989, the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) has sponsored the International Tutor Training Certification Program (ITTPC), which sets international standards of skills and training for tutors. Rather than certifying tutors or tutoring programs, the ITTPC certifies tutor-training programs. Currently the ITTPC certifies over 10,000 tutor-training programs, and there are over 600 programs that are certified by these organizations (ITTPC, 2014).

Tutor-orientation, including goals and policies, is vital to the success of a tutor-training program (Maxwell, 1997). Providing specific training for improving communication skills and methods for maintaining accurate and complete records is essential, as is the need to be aware of potential cultural differences that could hinder the effectiveness and ultimate success of the tutoring process. To help the staff grow within their roles and increase satisfaction, tutors should be assigned favorite subjects and enlightened on their own learning styles, which helps them understand learning processes (Dvorak, 2004).

Casazza and Silverman (1996) maintained that to be effective and sensitive to learning styles, tutors should be trained in metacognition, that is, the tutor's knowledge of his or her own cognitive processes, group dynamics, and motivating tutees. By studying and categorizing tutor questions and strategies, MacDonald (1991; 2000) developed a training manual for optimizing tutor-tutee communication strategies in multicultural settings. In addition to metacognition and communication, Dvorak (2004) found that underprepared students and cultural diversity, among group tutees as well as between the tutor and an individual tutee, present specific challenges for which the tutor must be prepared through training.

Brown (2014) maintained that the goals of tutoring are effectively the same regardless of the setting, but online tutors face additional challenges not encountered by the onsite tutor. Online tutors must be capable of helping tutees by telephone or through the Internet, which present vastly different tutoring dynamics than face-to-face tutoring. The tutor's body language and personality are difficult or even impossible to convey electronically. Training on learning styles, tutee behavior, and approaches to tutoring are still applicable. With training, tutors can use software such as Adobe Connect and Elluminate to help eliminate the difficulties associated with the lack of face-to-face interaction and feedback.

Moberg (2010) cited several examples of highly successful online tutoring programs and their strategies for continued success. The University of Maryland University College tutoring center, for example, is totally online with no face-to-face interaction in the traditional sense. Its Effective Writing Center recruits well-trained English teachers as tutors. The teachers receive extensive pre-training and then receive ongoing in-service training.

Moberg (2010) also described the structure of the National University (NU) online tutoring center. In order for the tutors and students to be on the same page with regard to the structure and functioning of the center, NU has an online scheduling portal that can be accessed by center administrators, tutors, and students. The tutors' schedules are posted on the portal so that students can seek times and tutors of their choice. After the appointment is set, the portal automatically sends an email to the tutor (S. Grogan, personal communication, 2010).

Tutoring Program Evaluation

The Council for Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) noted that exemplary tutoring programs establish and monitor guidelines and policies. Best practices include gathering data from as many sources as possible (Fullmer, 2012).

Dvorak (2001) found the best tutors are flexible and sensitive to student needs, can build rapport with tutees, know how to teach, coach, and inspire active learning and study strategies. Dvorak (2001) examined qualitative measures of tutoring program success and found that the best tutors actively demonstrate a desire for facilitating their tutees' success by developing a rapport with their tutees by being sensitive and flexible to their needs. The tutors served as role models and viewed themselves as content experts and mentors who freely share their familiarity with the rigors and challenges of higher education. The most successful tutors motivate their tutees by helping build the tutees' self-confidence and teaching how to set expectations. In effect, the tutors utilize both teaching and coaching to help their tutees.

Evaluating individual tutors is critical and should be performed by routine policy of the center (Dvorak, 2004). Tutors can receive feedback on whether and how they are helping their tutees and, by extension, a sense of the success of the program itself. Traditionally performed through printed surveys, evaluation is now performed through online surveys and by center administrators who monitor tutoring sessions. Providing tutors with constructive feedback allows them to determine not only whether they demonstrate a proficiency of the subject matter but also whether their techniques tend to develop the desired rapport with their students.

Truschel and Reedy (2009) reported 66% of centers surveyed track the services that their students utilize. The majority of those use a form of ID card tracking or a logbook. Others use databases and spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, or software such as Tutortrac or Accutrack. According to Truschel and Reedy (2009), tracking for retention purposes has become an integral part of the director's job. Slightly over 50% of responding schools report tracking retention within their university. Through program evaluation, tutoring centers can determine best practices for retention and the ultimate success of their students (Truschel & Reedy, 2009). These best practices include open tutoring hours, opportunities for one-on-one tutoring, peer tutoring, and walk-in tutoring, as well as having tutors available for as many hours weekly as possible and for as many majors and content specialties as possible.

External Tutoring Services

Many online tutoring services are unaffiliated with a school or university. Rather, those centers charge fees to the student based on the level of service provided. Examples include ASAP Tutor (ASAP Tutors, 2014) and Tutor.com (Better grades, 2014) which are designed to assist students in finance and accounting, as well as other disciplines. Both websites provide access and communication alternatives. Tutors engage students in live chats, shared computers, and email. Tutors on these sites are generally part-time participants and consider the tutoring activity as a secondary source of income.

With ASAP Tutor, questions can be submitted directly to the site via email. After ASAP Tutor receives the questions, a fee quote is sent back to the student. Students who use the online service are able to speak directly with tutors for immediate help. Questions that are not finance or accounting-related are typically answered through the site's email service, and the price charged varies based on how quickly the student needs help and the number of questions asked. The site is available 24 hours a day, so students can contact the site for assistance regardless of where they are located globally.

DEVELOPING THE TUTOR CENTER

The Business Tutoring Center began with an initial planning session only after the groundwork had been laid by the steering committee, which had already received administrative approval. In addition, a budget had already been established. However, none of the actual implementation work had been initiated. That would be part of the duties of the newly appointed University project manager.

Initial planning included the following topics:

* How to best serve the students in the School of Business.

* Technical aspects.

* Selection of tutors.

* Disciplines and courses needing most coverage.

* Scheduling.

* Resources needed to support the tutors.

* Training for tutors.

* Budgetary concerns.

Several other important topics, including the possibility of using a third-party provider for all of the tutoring needs, or creating an in-house business tutoring center, will be discussed in more detail in the following paragraphs.

Selection of Meeting Room Type

Because the university had licenses to expand the use of Adobe Connect beyond the existing tutoring centers, the same software was selected to continue to meet the needs of the tutors and students. Within an Adobe Connect meeting room are three levels of authority. A participant has authority only to post text in a restricted chat dialog box. A presenter is able to open a microphone to communicate using audio and upload presentation documents or share his or her desktop. At a third level, a "host," has authority to manage the screen and manipulate all aspects of presentation and functionality within the room. The host is considered to be an on staff faculty tutor. Tutors can move an arriving student into a separate, private breakout session, or "sub-room," devoted to deciding that student's specifics needs.

The effect is a single, main tutoring room that can be used as a landing screen for all tutors and students. After being moved into a breakout room from the landing screen, the student has audio privileges, which allows the tutor and student to communicate synchronously, using live audio. In the breakout rooms, the tutors and the students each have access to a digital whiteboard for inputting new material. In addition to the whiteboard, each may share his or her desktop or upload documents for simultaneous viewing.

Group Tutoring Sessions

One dynamic feature of Adobe[R]Connect[TM] is its ability to include multiple attendees in a single breakout session, which creates a number of possibilities for synergy. For example, a tutor might announce a special tutoring session in a separate room to cover a single important topic open to all students enrolled in a particular course.

Special Tutor Resource Room

As an added tool for efficient operation of the actual tutoring room, a second Adobe Connect room can be made available. This secondary room would be available only to the designated tutors and instructors for tutor training and resources. The details of a separate tutorsonly training and meeting room are discussed in a subsequent heading, below.

Determining the Scope of Tutoring Services

Due to budgetary concerns, the scope of tutoring services provided would need to be narrowly focused in the initial phase of operation. Therefore, the disciplines with the greatest need would be targeted. The use of existing metrics from all business courses would be examined to determine those disciplines and specific courses that exhibit the greatest need for tutoring services. These would be available in the first phase of operation.

Administrative review of performance data on specific courses showed the greatest need for specialized tutoring in accounting, finance, and economics courses. The course learning assessments (CLA) and grade point averages (GPA) levels in those disciplines indicated that students needed more specialized assistance in order to achieve greater success at learning the material. Therefore, they were the targeted disciplines and courses for the initial offerings in the tutoring center. This decision had a direct impact on downstream decisions, including selecting and hiring tutors.

Selection of Tutors

As a first step, the qualification and experience requirements of tutors were determined. The most urgent need was to recruit faculty to tutor in accounting, finance, and economics courses that had been identified as needing the most support. The options for recruitment were somewhat limited due to a number of policies in effect. For example, adjunct and full-time faculty were already limited to the number of contractual offerings allowed per year. Because the tutoring center would require additional contract offerings, instructors in the targeted courses might have a conflict between teaching a course and tutoring.

Use of Other Tutors from within the Institution

Because the math, writing, science, and technology tutoring centers were already operational, an opportunity existed to open the new tutoring center using veteran tutors. However, only a small number of instructors were already serving in those centers and also held credentials in the three disciplines selected for initial support. Therefore, another pool of new tutors would need to be developed.

New Tutor Selection and Recruitment

The qualifications for the new tutors were established to ensure the most efficient and productive use of each student's time and efforts. The two primary goals were that tutors had to be qualified to teach the discipline (which requires 18 hours of advanced, upper-level semester hours in that discipline) and, second, that they teach the more problematic courses in that discipline. Another goal was to seek instructors with multidisciplinary credentials. That is, due to the limited contract offerings available, in the initial phase of operations any tutor who could provide service to students in multiple courses and disciplines would be highly valued. Because of budgetary limitations, all disciplines may not have a specialized tutor on duty at any given time. Therefore, whoever was on duty should be willing to make an attempt to help any student who entered the tutoring center. In the event that a student could not be helped at that moment, the on-duty staff must be able to communicate effectively with any student to help direct them to the necessary resources. Another option would be to provide the student with a specific time when their designated tutor would be on duty.

Because more than one student might need help from a specific tutor at a time, tutors with the ability to multitask would be more effective. For example, if a tutor were already engaged in a breakout room with one student, the tutor would need to be able to manage the potential for two simultaneous sessions.

The process for soliciting tutor recruits was relatively simple. A mass e-mail was distributed to full-time and adjunct faculty containing a description of the duties, compensation, and basic qualifications. The tutoring center manager sorted and processed emails and then selected the tutoring staff.

Hours of Operation

The university operates on a weekly or "unit" schedule that begins on Wednesday and ends the following Tuesday, mirroring the school's schedule. The tutor center operating hours needed to incorporate the dynamic of the student due dates to help determine when most students would be seeking help.

A new unit would begin on Wednesday and include a new set of chapters and assignments. Therefore, due to the accelerated learning format, a student might not be prepared on Wednesday for effective tutoring. To provide sufficient time to complete the assigned readings and make initial attempts at the assignments, the decision was made to delay tutoring until Sunday. The most effective use of the student's time and the tutoring center resources was of critical importance.

The initial budget allowed for only 25 hours of operating time and seven tutors with a "full" contract. That contract would require 10 hours a week of service during a 10-week term.

One advantage to both the tutor center and the tutors was the decision to allow "half" contracts, or 5 hours per week service over the 10-week contract term. The result is committed tutors who are paid regardless of the level of student participation during a shift.

The 25 hours of operation were divided into five "sessions." The 5-hour evening sessions were scheduled for 6 pm to 11 pm (ET) on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. The hours of operation for the afternoon shifts are 1pm to 6pm (ET) on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Based on the assumption that more students would seek help in the later shifts, staffing was matched accordingly. That is, only three tutors were scheduled for duty on the Sunday afternoon shift, and five tutors were scheduled for the Tuesday evening shift. Later experience supported that decision, as more students sought help during the Monday and Tuesday evening shifts than at the other times.

The most difficult aspect of scheduling was distributing the discipline-based needs. For example, although each shift needed a tutor capable of teaching in every discipline, the limitations of contract availability and qualified tutor availability, that goal could not always be met. This limitation made the need for multidisciplinary, general practitioners even more important for the successful implementation and initial operation of the new tutor center.

Tutor Training

A number of desirable traits were needed to enable the tutors to effectively serve students. In order to instill these qualities and develop the needed tutoring skills, all new recruits were required to complete an existing University training module. Several training topics were introduced to the new recruits. First, a general module included policies and procedures common to all University academic centers. New recruits also learned how the centers are organized within the University Academic Support Center. The general module also included specific information on managing Adobe Connect Pro, the tutoring platform.

Another important module included a review and discussion of the National Tutoring Association (NTA)'s recommended code of ethics for tutoring center personnel. Also included in that module was information on Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other relevant legislation.

In another module, tutors learned more effective communication skills, especially those necessary to facilitate a tutoring session. Specific skills advanced in the tutor training module included the following:

* How to listen effectively when working with students in a tutoring situation.

* Appropriate language to use when speaking with students in an effective manner and using praise appropriately.

* How to solicit information from students in order to facilitate a constructive tutoring session.

These attributes were promoted during the tutor training:

* Communication.

* Clear speaking.

* Intentional listening.

* Useful questions.

* Continual praise.

* Concise writing.

* Beginning and ending a session.

* Communication basics overview.

An additional vital component of effective tutoring was potential conflict resolution. Tutors must be trained to recognize when a student is becoming frustrated or confrontational, and how to diffuse tense situations. In some cases, if the situation warranted it, a tutor might need to use specific University reporting policies and when they should be applied. In that regard, training topics included recognizing triggers of potential conflict, applying appropriate strategies to resolve conflicts with students, and identifying the proper procedure for reporting conflict in a tutoring session.

The tutors also needed to be informed about a number of specialized information and skill sets, including intimate familiarity with the services offered by the tutoring center, as well as its philosophy and pedagogy. Managing the Live Tutoring sessions was the primary learning objective for new tutors, but some administrative duties were required. For example, each tutor would be required to submit a Tutor's Report, which contained detailed log-in information to determine how many students were served, and the topics discussed.

As a result of that specific training, tutors were expected to be able to do each of the following activities:

* Describe services offered by the tutoring center.

* Describe and explain the tutoring center philosophy and pedagogy.

* Identify tutoring duties.

* Administer a tutoring session, Q & A, and Live Tutoring services.

* Describe outreach program offerings.

* Complete an overview of the tutoring center services.

* Provide a detailed description of tutoring duties.

* List support contact information.

* Fill out Live Tutoring and tutor reports.

* Describe online resources and other student outreach programs.

Special Tutor Resources

A separate Adobe Connect room was established to contain tutoring resources. The room is entirely separate from the live tutoring rooms, and has tutor/instructor-only access protection. The separate room serves a number of functions. Regular tutor meetings were held there at the start of every new contract term and as needed to reinforce training modules. For example, if a tutor encounters a particularly difficult situation, a meeting can be called to determine how best to handle such situations. The tutor-only room also allows for the file upload function, which is used to contribute to a repository of instructor or tutor resources. Each class in the business school has a dedicated folder containing textbook end-of-chapter resources such as assignment solutions, test banks, instructor manuals, PowerPoint presentations, course specific assignment solutions, alternate assignments for use within a tutoring session.

Because of a policy of not providing assignment-specific solutions to the students, alternate assignments are available in the resource room as an alternative for presenting the material without diminishing the integrity of the actual classroom assignments. In courses that present the most frequent visitors to the business tutoring center, the ready access of the textbooks for discussion purposes within a break-out session is appealing. Indeed, as a matter of practical application, it is possible to upload e-Book copies into the Tutor Only Adobe Connect room. However, because of copyright restrictions and file size limitations, it is not practical to house every textbook within the Tutor Only Room. Additionally, because textbooks are revised and courses updated frequently, the administrative burden for keeping textbooks in the Tutor Only Room could make the practice ineffective.

Performance Measurement

Although the authors do not explore the actual results of the student tutoring sessions, the initial design of the business tutoring center did include the creation of two shared forms. The first, "Business Tutor Entrance Questionnaire," serves a number of purposes. When students first enter the business tutoring center, an on staff tutor directs them to first complete the entrance questionnaire, which contains a list of policies that a student must affirm he or she will abide by before being moved into a live tutoring breakout room. Students are asked to complete an exit survey at the end of a completed tutoring session to share details from their experience.

Description and Process for a Typical Sample Tutoring Session

As a matter of practical application and efficient use of the tutor's time, one member of the tutoring staff per shift is designated as the official "greeter." The duties of the greeter are to simply act as a triage specialist. He or she directs the new student arrivals to the link for the entrance questionnaire. As soon as the questionnaire is completed, the student is paired with a tutor in the appropriate discipline.

Because of the demands of the tutoring sessions, the greeting function is rotated either within a shift or across shifts. It is also the greeter's duty to maintain an efficient flow within the main landing screen and the breakout rooms. The greeter must also explain center policies to the students. In some cases, as time permits, the greeter may enter into a tutoring session, but simultaneously maintain a careful watch for any new arrivals.

CONCLUSION

The formation and implementation of an online business tutoring center can fulfill the demands of University students. Although outside tutoring services requiring payment by the student are available, this university's service is provided at no charge to the student. A number of considerations were taken into account when constructing this tutoring center, which ultimately led to its creation. The business tutoring center continues to be operational and serve students today and, if the budget is available, it will exist into the indefinite future.

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Jaclyn Felder-Strauss

Paul Franklin

Ana Machuca

Stanley Self

Tommy Offil

Bruce Kuhlman

Kaplan University

Jaclyn Felder-Strauss is an instructor at Kaplan University's School of Business and teaches various accounting courses. Ms. Felder-Strauss is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Florida. Ms. Felder-Strauss received her Bachelor's and Master's in Accounting in 2002 from the University of Florida. Her career started with Deloitte as an International Tax Consultant and has a vast amount of experience in Tax Compliance. She has continued to focus her career in the area of higher education and has been doing so for over 10 years.

Paul Franklin is an Academic Department Chair at Kaplan University. Dr. Franklin is a CPA, licensed in Kansas and Missouri. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Finance and Business Administration from Rockhurst University. He holds a Master of Accounting degree from the University of Missouri and an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management. Dr. Franklin earned an Executive Juris Doctor degree from Concord Law School. He spent 20 years in the banking industry, culminating his career as President of The Arrowhead State Bank in Kansas City, Kansas. Dr. Franklin began his teaching career in 1979 as a course developer and adjunct faculty member of the American Institute of Banking.

Ana Machuca is a full time professor at Kaplan University. She has been teaching since 1997 in both the online and face-to-face environments. She has been involved in administration, curriculum, and development within Kaplan University. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and Finance from Florida Southern College, a Masters of Accounting and Financial Management from Keller Graduate School, a Master's in Business Administration with concentration in Management from Webster University and a Ph.D. in Business Administration with a specialization in Financial Management from Northcentral University. She has over 23 years of accounting and finance experience and is a CPA and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).

Stanley Self is Professor of Accounting at Kaplan University. He is a Certified Fraud Examiner and holds graduate certificates in Not-for-Profit Organizations from LSU-Shreveport and finance from Cornell University. Dr. Self earned an AS from Faulkner State College, and a BS from the University of South Alabama. He earned the MBA from the University of South Alabama in 1986, a DBA with concentration in accounting from Argosy University of Sarasota in 2008, and a doctorate in biblical studies from Master's Graduate School of Divinity in 2005.

Bruce Kuhlman is Professor of Finance at Kaplan University. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designations. Bruce earned his bachelor's degree in Agricultural Economics and his MBA and Ph.D. degrees in finance from the University of Florida. After teaching graduate and undergraduate Investments and Corporate Finance for 14 years at the university level, he served for ten years as the CFA Level III Manager for Kaplan Schweser in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Tommy Offill is an Adjunct Instructor of Accounting at Kaplan University. He is a Certified Public Accountant since 1999. He earned his MBA from Texas A&M University--Commerce in 2005 and his BA from the same university in 1993. He has 20 years of accounting experience in various industries such as construction, governmental, and Tribal operations. He has been an online Adjunct Instructor since 2005.
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Author:Felder-Strauss, Jaclyn; Franklin, Paul; Machuca, Ana; Self, Stanley; Offil, Tommy; Kuhlman, Bruce
Publication:International Journal of Education Research (IJER)
Article Type:Report
Date:Mar 22, 2015
Words:6582
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