Purdue University Graduate School
Dissertation 4-21.pdf (821.33 kB)


Download (821.33 kB)
posted on 2022-04-21, 22:50 authored by Patrick M ChaffinPatrick M Chaffin

 Tutoring is present on every university campus and available for nearly every discipline. Chemistry is no exception. The goal of this research study is to understand the motivations of chemistry students that are seeking tutoring during the first academic year of the COVID-19 pandemic. To accomplish this task, Self-Determination Theory was used to understand the extent to which the chemistry course did not satisfy the students' needs and how the participants felt these needs could be better satisfied through tutoring. Methodologically, this research is presented as a case study. This study set out to answer the following questions: What aspects of the chemistry course and content motivate tutees to seek out tutoring?; What aspects of the online learning environment created challenges that led tutees to seek out tutoring?; and What are the tutees' hopes and expectations of what tutoring can provide for them? It was found that many aspects of the course created an environment that left students with unsatisfied needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy including but not limited to the lack of a relationship with their professor or TA and the amount of content the course presented. Many of these issues were bound up in the forced online nature of the course which did not provide enough scaffolding or relatedness-support leaving students desiring help. These results imply that students need more support in their courses, especially when those courses are online only. Support can take the form of more scaffolding in the course to help with issues of competence or reaching out to students and fostering communication amongst the students, professor, and TAs to support relatedness. 


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Chemistry

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Marcy Towns

Additional Committee Member 2

Adam Wasserman

Additional Committee Member 3

Jake Burdick

Additional Committee Member 4

Jason Ware