The purpose of the study was to test an intrinsically-motivated interaction approach, designed to increase distance education support, for both content and motivation, in a cost-effective manner. The literature summarized shows that distance education students desire content and motivational support beyond course materials and are limited in their success without it. Further, while researchers explore increased interaction as a solution, professors usually do not have time for it and attempts to provide it are often restricted by institutions' limited resources. Very little has been published on the effects of distance education tutors and the need for more research in this area has been noted, especially with regards to cost-effective, scalable service models. Even when attempts to increase interaction are successful, they are usually achieved by requiring participation in online discussion boards, making them mechanical and frustrating to students. The proposed solution is an on-demand tutoring service to increase (a) achievement, (b) completion, (c) satisfaction and (d) cost-effectiveness. Participants included Brigham Young University Independent Study students enrolled in a college algebra (MATH 110) course. A quasi-experimental research design, multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), graphing techniques, correlation, and chi square analyses were used to determine the effects of the on-demand tutoring intervention. No statistically significant differences were apparent in the midterm scores, final exam scores, satisfaction ratings, or completion rates. However, despite unexpectedly low usage, the tutor appears to have been an adequate substitute for the professor in answering students' questions, and the potential for providing cost-effective on-demand tutoring services seems attainable. A summary of the study's strengths and weaknesses provides insights for improved practice and future research.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





distance education, tutor, interaction, support, teaching assistant, scalable, cost-effective, on-demand