Personal Tutoring is a key component of the student journey and has the potential to significantly influence the student learning experience, promote effective student engagement and thereby improving retention and achievement.
Informational and Relational Components of Personal Tutoring
Teesside University’s Personal Tutoring Code of Practice identifies a set of principles underpinning our approach and outlines the responsibilities expected of Personal Tutors. These responsibilities align in particular to the informational and relational components as captured in the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring. The informational component refers to the knowledge that personal tutors must have to guide their students and the relational component focuses on the skills that tutors need to convey this information. It is useful to focus on these two components as during these times of disruption it is likely that students will be seeking information around a range of areas but also needing more pastoral support to receive encouragement, motivation, nurture and guidance.
Personal Tutoring at Teesside University is about providing a consistent, equitable and structured approach for all students to pastoral, general academic and professional support. It is more important than ever during Covid-19 times to encourage our students to engage with Personal Tutoring and provide them with the support they need. The following provides some areas that might be useful to help you frame your personal tutoring interactions over the coming weeks and may help to encourage your students to engage in personal tutoring.
- Discuss with your tutees how they are coping with their studies now learning and teaching has moved to online delivery. It is important to remember that many of our students will have additional responsibilities. Furthermore, students will be facing challenges around space to study and access to support materials and technology.
- Your tutees may need signposting to guidance and information particularly in relation the implications of Covid-19 and some may need support in navigating through this. All of the latest University information and advice around coronavirus (Covid-19) is published here: https://www.tees.ac.uk/sections/about/university/coronavirus.cfm.
- Encourage academic reflection, a key responsibility of Personal Tutors is to facilitate students to reach their full academic potential. Students will be particularly worried about their performance and achievement with changes to assessment and the movement to delivery of teaching and learning online. Encourage students to reflect on previous feedback they have received in their modules; discuss this with them and provide support where you can from a general academic perspective. Remember that there is a lot of useful support information within the SLS Learning Hub that provides guidance on different learning topics including for example: academic skills, referencing, researching and writing. This can be accessed here: https://www.tees.ac.uk/sections/stud/learning_support.cfm.
- You could also direct students to the LibGuide developed by SLS providing some useful Library help and guidance on how students can work effectively off campus, this can be accessed here: https://libguides.tees.ac.uk/coronaviruslibraryupdate
- Be available for your students to provide pastoral support and guidance. Personal Tutoring at Teesside University is the responsibility of academic staff, but it is important to remember that while you are a fundamental part of that network of support that students receive at Teesside University there is a wider network of support. Please refer to a previous LTE Post around ‘Support for Personal Tutoring and Wider University Networks’ which can be found here: https://blogs.tees.ac.uk/lteonline/2020/04/23/personaltutoringnetworks/
- Discuss with students their thoughts around career aspirations, work experiences and professional planning. This will be more pertinent for some of our students than others and many will be very anxious about current employment opportunities. Students can be directed to our ‘Student Futures Team’ where further support can be provided around Careers and Employment: https://www.tees.ac.uk/sections/stud/employment.cfm
Students not Engaging with Personal Tutoring
We referenced above how Personal Tutoring can help to promote effective engagement but a common question asked by Personal Tutors is what they do if a student does not respond when they attempt to make contact. There is no simple solution but it is really important that a proactive approach is taken and that there are continued attempts to provide support to students even if they do not appear to be engaging. In supporting students on campus our default position tends to be a face to face meetings with the student. If it was a struggle to engage students synchronously (face to face) when on campus then it is likely that these problems will persist now students have moved to studying online.
Returning to the relational aspect of Personal Tutoring think about how to continue to build and foster relations with students communicating in an inclusive way respecting individuality. While opportunities for synchronous meetings should be available, be mindful that asynchronous contact could be more appropriate. Rather than ask your students to arrange a time for a meeting perhaps consider how you can engage them asynchronously allowing them to respond at a time convenient to them. To encourage your students to engage think about asking them open ended questions, signposting them to key information or asking them if they require anything from you; the above bullet points may help in providing prompts and signposting to relevant information.
Communicating asynchronously could also work better for Personal Tutors and it would be remiss not to appreciate the challenges that all our Personal Tutors are currently facing. The switch to remote delivery of learning and teaching at relatively short notice has placed incredible pressure on many colleagues and this has been exacerbated by non-work related issues such as supporting family members and home schooling. Communicating asynchronously can help to retain some control and flexibility over time for Personal Tutors.
Sources of Information
Teesside University Personal Tutoring Code of Practice can be accessed here: https://www.tees.ac.uk/docs/DocRepo/Quality%20framework/Personal%20Tutoring%20Code%20of%20Practice.pdf
The UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring can be accessed here: https://www.ukat.uk/professional-development/professional-framework-for-advising-and-tutoring/