Student centred transformation: Personal academic tutoring at the University of Derby , exploring the role of the ‘non’ deficit’ coaching approach in developing agency and empowerment.

Julie de Witt (University of Derby)
Melanie Pope (University of Derby)

Wednesday, April 6, 2022 1:30 PM - 2:15 PM

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

Session Outline

A new Personal Academic Tutoring (PAT) scheme was implemented in 2019/20. Key changes in PAT included a shift from a deficit approach to a non-deficit, regularly scheduled and structured model for all levels at undergraduate provision. This was underpinned by a ‘coaching approach’ to encourage learners to develop their own solutions and meaningful action plans. There was extensive staff development undertaken, moving online as the Covid-19 pandemic caused a shift to an on-line model of PAT. Alongside this there were student information ‘campaigns and a new ‘tile’ on the university front page where information about PAT could be accessed. It was important to evaluate a project of this size and scale from both student and staff perspectives.

The personal academic tutoring approach adopted at UoD has been noted as key in improving the NSS score over the past year, as noted by University executive.

This was a large multifaceted project, and beyond the remit of one presentation, therefore this will focus on the outcomes related to related to agency, self-efficacy and empowerment specifically. These were some key emergent themes from both the student and staff facing qualitative data and appeared to be linked to the new personal academic tutoring approach and specifically to the coaching approach. Understanding these themes not only assisted us to understand the impact of the changes to the PAT policy, but also to look forward by better understanding what is valued by the tutees and actually impacts on their performance, from their perspective.

214 Students responded to a questionnaire (MSForm), these were coded using an inductive approach to developing the themes and subthemes (Braun and Clarke, 2013), a CAQDAS software package (Quikos) was utlised to manage this. The coaching approach to PAT was specifically asked about, some had not noticed but 46 responses noted a positive impact: “Yes and it was a brilliant approach to learning”

There were other responses which appeared to note where PATS had used coaching techniques The respondents noticed and it impacted on their learning but they did not recognise this as a coaching approach per se. The other ways in which personal academic tutors appeared to assist in developing agency and ‘empowering’ their tutees fell into two broad categories; Academic support and ‘being there’ support

For many students the PAT was actually pivotal, not only in assisting them reach their academic potential but in retention. There was a human dimension that came through in the quotes, therefore personal academic tutoring is not a ‘nice to have’ or an add on role .The skills associated with personal tutoring are often assumed but should skills such as coaching be considered as such. These are the ‘softer’ skills of personal tutoring and deserve our attention so we can support our students, but also support staff to do this often difficult (and hidden) aspect of the academic job.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
I7 - Data and information technology applicable to tutoring
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners
R6 - Facilitate problem solving, decision-making, meaning-making, planning, and goal setting