Cherie Mazer, Ed.M., Harvard University Graduate School of Education, has released a new report, Online Tutoring: A New Retention and Remediation Solution for Colleges. The report, commissioned by Tutor.com, investigates the extent of the remediation and retention crisis in our higher education system and the role online tutoring can serve in addressing the issue.
While the number of students enrolling in undergraduate degree programs has increased 34 percent from 2000 to 2009, the number of those students who are unprepared for college has increased proportionately and is staggeringly high. Fully 60% of students entering community college require at least one remedial course. Remediation is expensive—students taking these courses pay full tuition, yet may receive no college credit. Worse yet, according to Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere published by Complete College America only 36% of students in remedial courses finish those courses and associated college-level coursework in two years time.
Ms. Mazer’s report highlights research studies specifically focusing on the efficacy of online tutoring in higher education settings. The studies cited determined that students studied achieved improved content knowledge, had better attitudes about seeking help, higher retention rates, and also preferred virtual tutoring over face-to-face interactions.
Recent data also suggests that individualized, live tutoring—in a virtual environment—is an effective means to address retention and remediation. Potential factors include:
- Online platforms allow distance learners—whose retention rates can be very low—with the flexibility they need to fit in the tutoring they need;
- Low-performing students are less threatened or embarrassed to seek help using an electronic system, rather than work directly with a face-to-face tutor;
- The scalable nature of online tutoring allows institutes of higher education to serve more students.
Black Hawk College in Illinois is an example of one institution that serves a diverse student body and is striving to make resources and support accessible and viable to all students by including online tutoring as part of their services.
“Our students balance jobs and families and online tutoring allows us to support them in ways our on-site tutoring cannot provide,” explained Kari Koster the Student Success Center Director at Black Hawk College. “Many of our students are under-prepared and only about 57% advance from their first remedial course. Online tutoring has been part of our larger retention efforts, including supplemental instructions services, First Year Experience program (in development) and an Early Alert System. We need to continue to make resources accessible to our students in multiple formats to provide support and facilitate learning.”
What is your college doing to address retention and remediation issues?