We've looked at this a number of times and sorry, we have no published
results.  But I do examine this type of thing pretty routinely.

Unfortunately, there isn't a clean relationship between the number of
sessions and grades because of all of the various reasons that people
attend tutoring.  Supplemental instruction (SI) tends to show similar
things and there is some research out there on SI and this relationship.

Very bright students may attend tutoring a few times to clarify things
and get an A.  Whereas, avoidant students may attend tutoring a few
times, get stressed out and give up, or they may get to tutoring too
late to recover and get an F.   These groups will cancel each other out
in correlation analysis.

Students who use services a lot (say, 30 times in a semester) can pass
the course, but I rarely see students get "A's" in that category.
Many of the students who attend a lot of times are those with severe
deficiencies, no study strategies, math or test anxiety, and/or other
issues, and either can't get up and over at all,  or just barely pass.

In any of those cases, they tend to show a reverse correlation...the
more students attend tutoring, the worse their grade in the
course...which we know isn't exactly legit either, but statistically,
those in that category really mess up correlations too.

Another group that cause problems for those nice, clean correlations
are the students who attend a lot of times because they hate going to
class for whatever reason and try to use tutoring as a way of
compensation.  It usually doesn't work, and again, a reverse correlation
between attendance and grades.

JMHO, but you may find more interesting and meaningful results if you
don't look at grades alone, but also look at these students through some
different lenses.  Explain the above to your boss, then look at your own
patterns of usage and performance/retention/etc.

For example, we found that students that those who use tutoring were
more likely to re-enroll in the subsequent semester than those
developmental math students who did not use our services.

WE also found that the percentage of developmental math students who
used tutoring were less likely to go on academic probation, or be
dismissed in the semester they used our services.

While motivation might be the reason for that (selection bias), the
other reason we found was that there was a larger percentage of students
with an overall GPA that was higher than the probation level (2.00) in
the group that got tutoring.

The average GPA's for each group (tutored and non-tutored or SI versus
no SI) as an aggregate didn't always look too different, statistically
or otherwise, but the distributions of the two groups were different,
with tutored students more likely to fall just ABOVE the magic 2.00 than
below it, meaning that we were contributing to the retention of those
students, even if we weren't getting them all A's.

Based on Martha Maxwell's recs years ago, we ask students to tell us
what they think their grade will be in this course without tutoring.  We
compare THAT to their actual grades.  Some years, they do better than
predictred.  Some years that doesn't hold either.  LOL!!

If you go back to the objectives of your program, one of them is likely
to help students build effective study strategies and grades isn't the
only way to look at that.  It may take a semester or two for those
skills to really take hold, and not necessarily in the course in which
they were tutored.

Therefore, re-enrollment, subsequent semester performance and other
things might tell you more than GRADES!!!   Because at least in our
case, we aren't about improving grades, we are about helping students
become more successful.  That covers a whole lot more ground than just

We've never done this, but I've often wondered what we'd see if we
compared an assessment of students' study strategies before and after
tutoring.   Anyone tried that?  I'd like to hear what you found out.

So, there are my two cents worth on this.

Have fun in your further discussions with yoru boss!  They usually
require a lot of educating about things like this.  : )

Shevawn Eaton, Ph.D.
Director, ACCESS/ESP
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
PH: (815) 753-0581

FAX: (815) 753-4115

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