Selecting the Right Person for the Job: An Interactive Tutor Recruitment Package on the World Wide Web

Angela Carbone <>
Monash University


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

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 forward planning.

Keywords: educational employment, recruitment, administration, WWW.


1. Introduction

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 teaching support.

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.

2. Goals of the Tutor Recruitment Package

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:

3. Design and structure of the Tutor Recruitment Package

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 [6, 7, 8] and the four design principles for creating interactive multimedia news WWW sites [5]: content, interactive multimedia, organization of information, and presentation of information. The design principles can be further broken down to include

The Tutor Recruitment Package is divided into the four sections described below:

  1. Are you eligible to tutor?
  2. List of subjects available
  3. Terms and conditions
  4. The tutor recruitment form

Are you eligible to tutor?

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

List of subjects available

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 to

Terms and conditions

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 duties. See

The tutor recruitment form

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 times. Appendix B contains a sample of the form output, which lists candidates that selected CSC2010 Computer Architecture as their teaching preference.

4. Observations on the use of the package

In semester two of 1996 the package was fully operational for the recruitment process. The two prime users of the package were

  1. students seeking employment as casual frontline teachers, including 21 postgraduate, 12 honors, and 2 undergraduate students, and
  2. 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.

5. Critical issues: statistics and responses

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:

6. Analysis: the impact of the Internet on educational employment

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:

7. Conclusion and future directions

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 package.

8. Acknowledgments

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.

9. References

  1. 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, June 1996.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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, December 1996.
  5. 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.
  6. J. Conklin, "Hypertext: An Introduction and Survey," IEEE Computer Magazine, Vol. 20, No. 9, 1989 pp. 17-41.
  7. J. Nielsen, Multimedia and Hypertext, Academic Press, 1995
  8. B. Shneiderman, "Designing the User Interface," Addison Wesley, 1992.
  9. 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.
  10. The New York Times, "New Estimates in old debate on Internet use show anything but certainty," New York Times News Services, 17 April 1996.
  11. "BUS3400 Multimedia for Business," Lecture Notes, Raymond Li, July 1996.

Appendix A: The 1996 subject list requiring frontline teachers

First semester subjects 1996

CSC1011 Computer Programming
CSC2040 Science of Programming
CSC2061 Digital Logic
CSC2050 Software Engineering I

Second semester subjects 1996

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

Appendix B: Sample form output

CSC2010 Computer Architecture

Name: Mark Stain
Phone: (home) 9912 3456
Status: hons
Taught at a Sunday school for 2 years
Tutored CSC2050 last semester
Classes: 2
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
Phone: (home) 9909 5678
(work) 03 9700 1234
Status: postg
1995: CSC2010
1996: CSC2040
Classes: 2
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
E-mail: dpm@cs
Phone: (home) 99876 5432
(work) 9905-1111
Status: postg
Tutored csc2040 semester 1.
Classes: 2
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

Appendix C: Tutor recruitment form questionnaire

Distributed to the frontline teachers, semester two, 1996

  1. Did you find the package easy to use? YES | NO If no, please state which parts.
  2. Did you find it easy to navigate? YES | NO If no, please state which parts.
  3. Please rank questions 3a]--f] as one of:
  1. Overall did the package provide enough information to help make an informed decision about which subject to teach? YES | NO
  2. Is there anything you particularly liked about the package? Comments please.
  3. Is there anything you particularly disliked about the package? Comments please.
  4. What other information would you like to see included? Comments please.