Design and facilitation of an online community cohort for personal tutor CPD - Lessons learned

Eve Rapley (University of Greenwich )
Rachel George (University of Greenwich)

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM

If you are a registered delegate, please login to view the full session information and resources

Session Outline

This presentation focuses on personal tutor community development via a digital platform. The community is a cohort of University of Greenwich personal tutors who undertook a UKAT professional development award (Recognised Practitioner in Advising RPA) in 2021. Within this presentation we will:

  1. Share insights and outline how we successfully designed and sustained a collaborative, community online space using Microsoft Teams
  2. Share early data from our cohort evaluation
  3. Include participant voices from the cohort outlining the role the cohort played in gaining RPA and identity development
  4. Outline challenges, successes and future developments of the online cohort CPD model.

Keen to model the dialogic nature of personal tutoring, we will facilitate audience engagement by inviting questions and comment throughout the presentation. As experienced personal tutors, we sought to create a flexible, inclusive and supportive online community to help personal tutors to succeed in gaining UKAT recognition. Shaped by UKAT values, we also wanted to create a community whereby peers would be able to support and learn from each other as well as through 1-2-1 and group tutorials. The thinking behind an online cohort model stemmed from a number of areas; Covid related pragmatism; exploring the literature about teacher CPD engagement; and from our own experience of leading an AHE Fellowship scheme. Our experience of the latter scheme indicated that engaging with a detailed, retrospective reflective account of practice (akin to UKAT professional recognition awards) was often challenging for time-poor staff engaged in busy academic roles. Many suffered from ‘fellowship fatigue’ from undertaking it as a solo pursuit with limited formal, supportive input from others (Mlambo et al., 2021). Lack of time was also cited as being a significant barrier for staff to engage successfully with CPD (King, 2004). The literature was clear that providing a supportive environment for staff CPD would be an absolute necessity (Mlambo et al., 2021). Within the presentation we will explain how we drew on the work of Kennedy (2005) and Wenger (1998) to design the online cohort. Kennedy’s work led us to draw on a number of different approaches as outlined in her 9-stage framework. We borrowed ideas from the award-bearing model, the coaching/mentoring model and the Community of Practice Model to design a cohort which would maximise individual achievement (of the UKAT awards) as well as creating a sense of belonging within a community of like-minded people with shared goals. We drew on Wenger’s (1998) four dimensions of a design architecture with consideration of synchronous and asynchronous modalities with busy and dispersed learners (Korsgaard Sorensen and Murchú, 2004). We focused on harnessing the power of the collective professional activity whereby “the richness of the connections between individuals” (Boreham, 2000 p. 505) would add to the richness of the cohort overall.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
R4 - Plan and conduct successful advising and tutoring interactions
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners