Face-to-face Versus Online Tutoring Support in Distance Education

L. Price
T. E. Richardson
Anne Jelds


The experiences of students taking the same course by distance learning were compared when tutorial support was provided conventionally or online. Study 1 was a quantitative survey using an adapted version of the course experience questionnaire and the revised approaches to study inventory. Study 2 was another quantitative survey using the academic engagement form. Study 3 was an interview-based examination of the students conceptions of tutoring and tuition. In all three studies, the students receiving online tutoring reported poorer experiences than those receiving face-to-face tutoring. Study 3 shows that tutoring was seen not only as an academic activity but also as a highly valued pastoral activity.



● Study took place at the Open University in the UK
● Participation in tutoring is not compulsory
● Study 1:
1. International development: challenges for a world in transition. Equated to 50% of one year’s full-time study. In 2002, this course was offered with conventional tutorial support, consisting of face-to-face tutorials with telephone and email support
2. Responses were received from 99 students- a response rate of 64%. 66 had received in person tuition and 33 had received online tuition.
3. For each questions ,students who received face-to-face tuition gave more positive responses than those who received online tuition.
● Study 2:
1. Same course was used as in study 1
2. Response rate of 44%
3. 244 respondents 175 in person 34 online
4. 64 student responses had to be dropped because they had not finished the survey
5. This left 120 in person and 25 online students.
● Study 3: Interviewed students who had completed surveys for study 2.
1. Random sample of 140 students were contacted by emails and invited to participate in follow-up interviews. 40 students responded but only 19 completed the full interview schedule. Six women and 2 men who had received face-to face tuition and ten women and one man who had received online tuition.
2. Phenomenographic approach initially was used but was changed to a grounded theory approach.
3. Students were questioned as to whether they understood the difference between tuition and tutoring
4. Students stressed the importance of face to face contact
5. Students who had received online tuition are more likely to report negative experiences of tuition than those who had received face-to-face tutoring

APA Citation

Price, L., Richardson, J. T., & Jelfs, A. (2007). Face-to-face versus online tutoring support in distance education. Studies in Higher Education, 32(1), 1-20.

About the Study

Links to Article https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C50&q=%29.+Face%E2%80%90to%E2%80%90face+versus+online+tutoring+support+in+distance+education.+Studies+in+Higher+Education&btnG=
Mode Online
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication Studies in Higher Education
Type of Research Mixed methods
Research Design Survey research (qualitative or quantitative)
Intervention/Areas of Study Tutoring or academic support
Level of Analysis Student-level
Specific Populations Examined
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest Public
Specific Course or Program Characteristics
Outcome Variables of Interest Learning effectiveness, Satisfaction
Student Sample Size 0-99
Citing Articles https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=11066267861939452284&as_sdt=5,50&sciodt=0,50&hl=en