Selecting the Right Person for the Job: An Interactive Tutor Recruitment Package on the World Wide Web
Angela Carbone <email@example.com>
In 1996, the Department of Computer Science, Monash University,
implemented an interactive Tutor Recruitment Package on the World
Wide Web (WWW). The package was developed to provide
- postgraduate students with the information they needed to
make an informed decision about frontline teaching,
- those responsible for recruiting frontline teachers with the
information they need to select the right person for the job,
- those responsible for future planning with structures to preplan
the semester's teaching activities, such as the scheduling of
meetings and classes.
This paper describes the way in which the package evolved, the
purpose and use of the package, and its current integration into
the casual staff recruitment process. It also presents a detailed
analysis of the attitudes that will shape the future of the Internet
as a medium for disseminating such information, improving educational
employment decisions and administrative procedures, and inducing
Keywords: educational employment, recruitment,
The Department of Computer Science, Monash University, employs
approximately 40 postgraduate students on a casual basis either
as tutors or demonstrators to provide additional undergraduate
Demonstrators take on average two laboratory classes per week.
Classes consist of thirteen students or fewer and students work
on programming- or computing-related problems. Demonstrators move
around the room answering questions, helping students and assessing
the students' work.
Tutors lead and engage students in interactive discussions. These
classes usually contain approximately 15 to 20 students. Tutors
may take either an advanced tutorial or a standard class. The
advanced classes cover a higher level of problem complexity and
run at an accelerated pace.
In this paper, both tutors and demonstrators will be referred
to as frontline teachers. Frontline teachers have a choice of
the subjects that they teach; the 1996 subjects are listed in
Appendix A. In the past, little information
has been available regarding the required skills and administrative
responsibilities associated with the teaching of each subject.
Traditionally, the assistant lecturers in the department have
been responsible for a number of duties relating to undergraduate
teaching. These duties are listed below, along with the difficulties
assistant lecturers have encountered.
- The recruitment of frontline teachers
In the past, the criteria for employment placed little importance
on the teaching experience of the candidate. Usually positions
were filled on a first-come-first-served basis, and there was
little capacity to reject even the poorest candidates because
supply of frontline teachers did not meet demand and postgraduates
were taking on other better paying jobs
With this shortfall, little, if any, emphasis was placed on selecting
the right person for the job and on good teaching practices.
- Answering queries about the requirements of frontline teaching
There was a lack of awareness of the teaching requirements
and responsibilities for the different subjects among prospective
teaching candidates. Re-occurring queries were raised mainly by
new postgraduates entering the department.
- The generation of teaching timetables and scheduling of
An ad hoc recruitment process meant that the generation of
teaching timetables often required multiple drafts. Late planning
and poor organization resulted in meetings being scheduled during
the lunch break.
- Finding replacement staff in times of teaching shortages
Teaching replacements are required when casual staff are away
at conferences or on annual leave or sick leave. Usually candidates
know of their absence well in advance but often forget to inform
assistant lecturers until just prior to their absence.
The aim of the Tutor Recruitment Package on the WWW was to address
the above problems and to meet some modest goals at a departmental
level. The goals of the package included the following:
- To outline the department's criteria for employing casual
It has been common practice in the past for the department
to employ only internal postgraduate students as casual teachers.
At the time of designing the package, the department re-evaluated
the criteria for employing casual frontline teachers and extended
the recruitment to include students at honors and undergraduate
levels and others from outside the department and campus.
- To provide postgraduate students with the subject specification
Computer science is a rapidly expanding and changing discipline.
Changes made to the curriculum, the introduction of new programming
languages, and hardware updates make it difficult to adequately
disseminate the current teaching requirements for each subject.
(For example, first-year programming languages have included Pascal,
Turing, C, safeC, and C++, and Java will possibly be introduced
to the curriculum in the near future. Operating system platforms
have also changed from Apple Macintosh, to PCs running DOS and
- To provide postgraduate students with the department's
job requirements, regulations, and expectations
Many candidates seeking casual employment are unaware of the
administrative duties that are associated with teaching. Candidates
employed as teachers are required to attend training sessions
and regular meetings, enter practical marks and tutorial attendance
into a student database, prepare for their classes, submit timesheets,
advise students of additional language and learning support services,
and have their teaching evaluated.
- To organize meeting times and class times prior to the
start of semester
It was perceived that first-year computer science classes
were the easiest to teach because the subject material was introductory
 and that any candidate was suitable for
first-year teaching. However, recent investigations by a collaborative
education project group into teaching and learning of first-year
computer science students
 showed a consensus
that the most effective learning of programming occurred in small
group teaching environments and that those in such teaching positions
were bearing the greatest responsibility for student learning.
It has now become increasingly popular to preplan, develop, and
incorporate training programs for frontline teachers
4] that will be part of the ongoing meetings
throughout the semester.
- To generate output that will make the timetable scheduling
In the past, the process of employing frontline teachers was
fairly informal. Often candidates omitted details that were needed
for organizing timetables. This lead to the distribution of many
preliminary timetables via e-mail until eventually one was created
that best suited the needs of each candidate.
The Tutor Recruitment Package was developed on the WWW and can
be viewed by any WWW browser that supports forms and Hypertext
Markup Language (HTML). It was designed in accordance with the
user interface guidelines
8] and the four design principles for creating
interactive multimedia news WWW sites
content, interactive multimedia, organization of information,
and presentation of information. The design principles can be
further broken down to include
- understanding the target audience's needs,
- providing links to other relevant and reliable sources of
- using interactive multimedia where there is demand for it,
- using consistent organization,
- giving clear indication of available choices and menu items,
- layering the information,
- adopting familiar icons, and
- providing clearly readable text.
Tutor Recruitment Package
is divided into the four sections described below:
- Are you eligible to tutor?
- List of subjects available
- Terms and conditions
- The tutor recruitment form
The first section uses a selection of font size, background colors,
and clearly readable text to outline the personal requirements
and qualifications needed by a candidate. In particular, it highlights
the skills, qualifications, and other requirements the department
expects of its frontline teaching staff. The contents of this
section are located at
The next section lists the subjects requiring frontline teachers
in each semester and the type of teaching activity (e.g., demonstrating
or tutoring or both). Links to external sources of information
detailing the course description and relevant lecture material
are provided. The links lead to the latest information regarding
the subject and are regularly maintained and updated by the Department
of Computer Science administrative staff. The information includes
a synopsis of the lecture content, lecture times, consultation
hours, prescribed and recommended text books, and other general
information that students receive in the first lecture. Refer
The third section describes the teaching duties and administrative
responsibilities expected of frontline teachers. This information
includes a table detailing remuneration rewards for each type
of teaching activity, including tutoring, demonstrating, exam
marking, standard marking, attending meeting, and other related
The last section uses a tutor recruitment form. The form details
the possible class times and meeting times that were coplanned
by the lecturers and assistant lecturers. The form is an interactive
component of the package on which postgraduates enter their personal
details including a contact number, previous teaching or related
experience, the subject they wish to teach, and a list of preferred
teaching times. See
After the candidate completes the form and submits the information,
the form uses a set of scripts that are invoked by the Web to
produce a series of text files as output. Each text file represents
a subject and contains a lists of interested casual staff teachers
with their personal details and a ranking of their preferred class
Appendix B contains a sample of
the form output, which lists candidates that selected CSC2010
Computer Architecture as their teaching preference.
In semester two of 1996 the package was fully operational for
the recruitment process. The two prime users of the package were
- students seeking employment as casual frontline teachers,
including 21 postgraduate, 12 honors, and 2 undergraduate students,
- four assistant lecturers who preplanned meeting times and
class times prior to the start of the semester, recruited frontline
teachers, and organized the teaching timetable for the subject.
The recruitment process over the Internet was very popular. Thirty-five
prospective casual frontline teachers completed the electronic
form prior to the start of semester two. Queries were e-mailed
via the Web to the UNIX assistant lecturers' consult group. All
assistant lecturers used the generated form output to organize
teaching timetables for the casual staff.
During the first semester of the package's use, several deficiencies
in structure and content were identified. Data collected through
questionnaires and interviews showed areas in which postgraduates
and assistant lecturers would like to see improvements made. Recommendations
included the following:
- Avoid having to re-enter the same form information
for each subject
Originally the package was designed with the restriction
that postgraduates would be permitted to teach only one
subject. This restriction was applied to save costs and reduce
the amount of preparatory workload for frontline teachers.
Contrary to expectations, many prospective teachers wanted to
teach a variety of subjects or were undecided and hence subscribed
to more than one subject. As a consequence, personal details needed
to be entered every time a candidate selected a new subject. This
was the only real criticism about the form. Some postgraduates
found it too cumbersome and time consuming to re-enter their personal
details for each subject they contemplated teaching.
The revised version of the Tutor Recruitment Package allows users
to go back to their previously entered personal details and resubmit
the form again for another subject without having to re-enter
their personal details.
- A table indicating whether a time slot was occupied
Currently, candidates rank their preferred teaching times
without knowing the popularity of their choice. A rank of one
indicates their first preference, and four is their last preference.
The updated package now lets the user know the total number of
classes available for a subject and the classes that are occupied.
Positions are filled on a first-come-first-served basis.
- The ability to access information regarding lab and
meeting schedules (including precise details of when classes ran,
along with the expected class sizes or any special class arrangements,
e.g., remedial, advanced, unisex) without having to submit the
form application first
A further enhancement includes links to dynamically generated
pages containing information regarding laboratory or tutorial
and meeting schedules with precise details of when classes run
without. Candidates have access to this information before they
submit the application. The information is tabulated to keep columns
of information in line.
- A field to specify times candidates would be absent
from the teaching semester
Attendance at conferences or annual leave is usually
planned in advanced. Assistant lecturers need to know times of
teaching shortages so that they can plan their teaching roster
and find replacements early in the semester. An extra field added
to the form allows candidates to specify times of absence.
- A page of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about frontline
A list of FAQs is in the process of being accumulated
but has not yet been incorporated into the package.
This section focuses on the impact that the Internet has had on
shaping postgraduate employment decisions and the administrative
duties of those responsible for recruiting frontline casual teaching
staff. The questions below were investigated and discussed:
- Did the Tutor Recruitment Package distributed over the
Internet via the WWW, adequately inform prospective teaching candidates
about their role within the Department of Computer Science?
By semester two, when the Tutor Recruitment Package was operating,
teaching candidates fell into the following three groups:
- Group 1: Monash Computer Science postgraduates
with prior experience at frontline teaching (16 candidates)
- Group 2: Computer Science postgraduates that
did not graduate from Monash but had prior experience at frontline
teaching (7 candidates)
- Group 3: Computer Science honors or undergraduate
students without any experience at frontline teaching (12 candidates)
- What were the likes and dislikes of a recruitment process
over the Internet?
The majority of candidates liked the concept of applying for a
job via the Web over the Internet. Particular reasons for liking
the program were it made the task of applying for a job easier
and more standardized, the interface was easy to use, and candidates
were able to enter their preferred teaching times.
Typical responses included the following:
- "It allows freedom, especially for tutors returning to
their home town/country but still with Net access. It also eliminates
the need for potential tutors to come to uni to sign up with it.
I applied for it in the comfort of my home!"
- "It was simple to use and provided an excellent medium
for choosing the specific classes to teach."
- "A lot more information about subjects and tutoring in
general was available compared to mail."
- "Quick, simple and convenient--saves on paper."
- "It was easy to complete the form."
- "It made the job of applying a little easier and more
- "It was there, easy to use, had a nice, lynx-able interface."
- "I liked filling in our preferred times."
- "I like the concept of applying for a job over the Web--I
think it's a great idea."
- "A very good start!! Good work!"
- "It now appears that we have a recruitment process before
we didn't have anything official"
Apart from the deficiencies about the package itself, dislikes
of recruiting over the Internet were mainly concerned with the
inability of the Internet to accurately measure a candidate's
personal skills. Specific comments included the following:
- "Recruitment over the Internet does not provide meaningful
information about the personality of both the organization and
the applicant. Not to mention how easy it is to lie in an electronic
message. I guess it could be used to screen out applicants who
fail to meet basic job requirements."
- "Excellent oral and interpersonal skills and a strong
student focus cannot be measured in electronic messages."
- Did the package ease the administrative load of assistant
lecturers or help with the organization of the teaching timetable?
Surveyed evidence from assistant lecturers suggested that the
package eased their administrative load which was highlighted
Anecdotal evidence suggested a reduction in the number of teaching
related queries, as one assistant lecturer commented," I
didn't have any teaching related queries so I guess it did."
The output generated from the processed form information was helpful
in deciding which candidates to recruit. Assistant lecturers agreed
that the teaching experience of a candidate was very useful; in
some subjects all candidates were employed due to a shortage of
teaching staff. However, in other subjects candidates with prior
experience or better skills were given priority.
The form output proved to be very useful for organizing teaching
timetables. The preference list gave assistant lecturers flexibility
in devising timetables that best reflected and satisfied the candidate's
choice of preferences. E-mail addresses and private and mobile
phone numbers ensured that assistant lecturers were able to contact
prospective candidates to confirm appointments and deal with matters
- Is the Internet evolving as an important and crucial frontier
for the tutor recruitment process?
As part of the semester two, 1996, recruitment process in the
department, Internet-based recruitment has gained a welcomed acceptance
among postgraduates and assistant lecturers. Internet-based recruitment
was useful for
- establishing structures to organize the semester's teaching
- standardizing the initial job application,
- detecting whether an applicant met the basic job requirements,
- selecting casual frontline teachers, and
- scheduling timetables.
- Will the Internet shape the future of the recruitment process
From time to time, a new technology comes along that revolutionizes
all business activities. We are in the midst of such a period
with the onset of the Internet, and in particular the WWW.
The first attempt at using the tutor recruitment process over
the Internet via WWW was modeled on the traditional way of doing
things, which models the recruitment process for most businesses.
Recruitment in business usually involves advertising the position
in newspapers, reviewing candidates' CV, and conducting face-to-face
interviews with candidates that adequately satisfy the initial
Currently, the Internet is gaining acceptance in the business
world at a phenomenally rapid rate and the shift from paper to
electronic delivery of news has occurred almost simultaneously
with both producers and consumers of news. Current estimates of
the number of Internet users range from 10 million to 22 million
Internet users, and 11 million to 17 million WWW users
People are no longer dependent on traditional sources to receive
their news but now can reach news services around the world
Activities such as tracking standards, disseminating information,
obtaining answers to questions, and sending and receiving documents
are particularly easy over the Internet. The global accessibility
and rapid acceptance of the Internet makes the Internet an attractive
medium for advertising vocational positions.
Analysts often make the mistake of judging the Internet solely
in terms of its contribution to direct sales. The true criteria
for judging the usefulness of the Internet should be strictly
in terms of whether it helps an organization achieve its goals
. The Internet has added value to various
activities of an organization. In the Department of Computer Science
the tutor recruitment process over the Internet takes advantage
of the interactivity that the Internet offers. Lessons learned
from the small-time recruitment process suggest that the Internet
can be used to improve the recruitment process of businesses in
- for employees, the Internet provides immediate access to current
information about the job, and search engines make it possible
to search for a job anywhere around the world;
- for employers, the Internet provides a mechanism to plan for
future vocational positions, to screen out applicants who fail
to meet the basic job requirements, and to recruit international
- for both parties, the recruitment process is made easier and
The Tutor Recruitment Package is an application of WWW technology
that has made a significant change to a small-time educational
recruitment process in the Department of Computer Science. Feedback
to date has been in favor of this method of electronic recruitment
over the Internet.
Current data indicates that the Internet appears to be a successful
method of disseminating information to postgraduates considering
employment as frontline teachers. Access to information enables
postgraduates to make an informed decision about frontline teaching.
The output generated by the package provides those in charge of
recruitment with structures to preplan the semester's teaching
activities and better information to help them select the right
person for the job. Also, administrative duties of assistant lecturers
have shifted away from the traditional ad hoc practice to simplify
the generation of teaching timetables.
The Internet is shaping the future of the casual staff recruitment
process in the Department of Computer Science and appears to have
enormous scope for the future of recruitment support in business.
Further enhancements to the recruitment process, such as providing
a list of frequently asked questions, adding links to practical
and tutorial exercises (in HTML), and automating the timetable
scheduling process, are currently being incorporated into the
The author wishes to thank Professor John Crossley, the head of
the Department of Computer Science, for approving of the initial
design of the Tutor Recruitment Package, and Jamie Scuglia, a
programmer employed with the department, for his dedicated efforts
to code the CGI scripts as part of the processing of form information.
- I. Mitchell, I. Macdonald, F. Gunn, and A.
Carbone, "Helpless, Isolated and Under Paid: Turning Computer
Science Demonstrators into Teachers," Proceedings of Australasian
Science Education Research Association (ASERA), Canberra, Australia,
- J. Ophel and I. Robinson, "Integrating Group Learning
Skills into a First Year Computer Science Subject," The proceedings
of the first Australasian Conference on Computer Science Education
(ACSE'96), Sydney, Australia, July 1996.
- P. Stropper, "Setting Up a Tutor Training
Program in Computer Science," The proceeding of the first
Australasian Conference on Computer Science Education (ASCE'96),
Sydney, Australia, Jul, 1996.
- A. Carbone, I. Mitchell, and I. MacDonald,
"Improving the Teaching and Learning in First Year Computer
Science Tutorials," Poster Proceedings of the Thirteenth
Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Learning
in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE'96), Adelaide, Australia,
- Y. Quintana, "Design of Internet-Based
News Delivery Systems and Its Impact on Society," Proceedings
of the sixth annual meeting of the Internet Society (INET'96),
Jun, Montreal, Canada, 1996.
- J. Conklin, "Hypertext: An Introduction
and Survey," IEEE Computer Magazine, Vol. 20, No. 9, 1989 pp.
- J. Nielsen, Multimedia and Hypertext, Academic
- B. Shneiderman, "Designing the User Interface,"
Addison Wesley, 1992.
- M. Logan and R. K. Logan, "How to Do Business
on the Internet," Proceedings of the sixth annual meeting
of the Internet Society (INET'96), Montreal, Canada, June 1996.
- The New York Times, "New Estimates in
old debate on Internet use show anything but certainty,"
New York Times News Services, 17 April 1996.
- "BUS3400 Multimedia for Business,"
Lecture Notes, Raymond Li, July 1996.
CSC1011 Computer Programming
CSC2040 Science of Programming
CSC2061 Digital Logic
CSC2050 Software Engineering I
CSC1011 Computer Programming
CSC1030 Computer Science
CSC2010 Computer Architecture
CSC2020 Operating Systems
CSC2030 Foundations of Computing
CSC3182 Data Communication and Networks
CSC3191 Multimedia and World Wide Web Programming
Name: Mark Stain
Phone: (home) 9912 3456
Taught at a Sunday school for 2 years
Tutored CSC2050 last semester
1. Wednesday 9:00am-12:00pm
2. Thursday 2:15pm-5:15pm
3. Wednesday 2:15pm-5:15pm
4. Tuesday 10:00am-1:00pm
Name: Toby Pickhead
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Phone: (home) 9909 5678
(work) 03 9700 1234
1. Thursday 2:15pm-5:15pm
2. Thursday 10:00am-1:00pm
3. Tuesday 2:15pm-5:15pm
4. Tuesday 10:00am-1:00pm
Name: David Packman
Phone: (home) 99876 5432
Tutored csc2040 semester 1.
1. Tuesday 10:00am-1:00pm
2. Tuesday 2:15pm-5:15pm
3. Wednesday 9:00am-12:00pm
4. Wednesday 2:15pm-5:15pm
Names and phone numbers are invented for confidential purposes
Distributed to the frontline teachers, semester two, 1996
- Did you find the package easy to use? YES | NO If no, please
state which parts.
- Did you find it easy to navigate? YES | NO If no, please state
- Please rank questions 3a]--f] as one of:
- VERY USEFUL--Really need to know
- USEFUL--Good for reference
- USELESS--Never needed
- and/or feel free to add your own comments.
- How would you rank the package in terms of:
- Informing you about which subjects require frontline teachers?
- Informing you about the teaching requirements of subjects?
- Outlining the expected duties of a frontline teacher?
- Providing you with information such as the lab and meeting
- Helping you make a decision in terms of which subject you'd
- Addressing your general queries relating to teaching?
- Overall did the package provide enough information to help
make an informed decision about which subject to teach? YES |
- Is there anything you particularly liked about the package?
- Is there anything you particularly disliked about the package?
- What other information would you like to see included? Comments