Implementing On-Call-Tutor System for Facilitating Peer-Help Activities

Jian Jie Dong, Wu Yuin Hwang, Rustam Shadiev, Ginn Yein Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In this study, we developedan on-call-tutor system to facilitate peer-help activities. The system was implemented in a face-to-face heterogeneous classroom with 119 students from different departments who were not familiar with each other. Students learned Geographic Information System (GIS) in a computer classroom in two groups: students, who learned without our on-call-tutor system, were in a control group whereas those, who learned with our on-call-tutor system, were in an experimental group. When students had any difficulties during the learning process (e.g., to use GIS), they could request help face-to-face (the control group) or through the system (the experimental group). When students requested help via the system, it selected one student from a pool of those who perceived himself/herself to have excellent learning progress and then assigned him/her as a tutor to a student in need (tutee). We carried out this study to explore whether our on-call-tutor system is useful to facilitate peer-help activities and to enhance student learning performance. To this end, based on the theoretical framework of this study, we designed an experiment in which learning performance and behavior of students in the two groups were explored and compared. We also analyzed student social network and investigated whether it can be extended with the support of the on-call-tutor system. Finally, factors that influence making a friend with an unfamiliar classmate and relationship among these factors were explored. For the data analysis, we gathered student logs to send messages, to help peers, and their practice time. We also collected students' responses to a questionnaire survey about their attitudes towards using our on-call-tutor system. In addition, student learning performance was measured and interviews with students were carried out. Our results showed that, compared to students in the control group, those in the experimental group had more peer-help activities and better learning performance. Results also showed that students built their social network in which they interacted with each other and obtained/provided social support and useful knowledge for learning purpose. In addition, we found that usefulness of our system for learning was the main factor that influenced students' willingness to build friendship in the social network with familiar/unfamiliar classmates and then communicate with them. Based on our results, we suggest employing the on-call-tutor system in a heterogeneously grouped classroom in order to facilitate peer-help activities, especially when students learn difficult subjects like computer software and are not acquainted with one another. Our system is useful for students in requesting help and finding a tutor in case when they need assistance or some further learning information. With the assistance of our system, students can build the social network among classmates and communicate with each other in order to find/provide learning assistance and social support. As a result, student peer-help activities can be facilitated and learning performance enhanced.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8322053
Pages (from-to)73-86
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Social learning techniques
  • higher education.
  • peer tutoring
  • social networking


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