Active listening for effective personal tutoring

Angela Newton (University of Leeds)

Tuesday, April 4, 2023 3:30 PM - 4:15 PM

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Session Outline

Active listening can play a key and positive role in our relationships with others (Ellis and Abbot, 2018; Bodie, 2011; Wolvin and Coakley, 2012). When we fail to listen, we risk a lack of trust, empathy and insight; all crucial in an effective student – tutor relationship. Whilst a lot of literature is focused on how active listening benefits those students who engage in it, there is less understanding of the role of personal tutors and professional staff in universities and the value of their actively listening to students (Eggenburger, 2021; Canpolat et al., 2015; Shernof, et al., 2017).

Active listening by personal tutors and professional staff regularly engaged in supporting students is, I would argue, vital in order to properly engage with their concerns and individual situations. Employing active listening may help students to feel more confidence in expressing their concerns and improve their relationship with and perception of their educational experience. (Locktie, 2018) With discussions around the importance of developing a ‘sense of belonging’ in students gaining traction on campuses even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of active listening deserves more attention and staff development time.

In the context of high workloads and the increasing pressures of our higher education system on staff, active listening is a neglected area of personal and professional development (Wolvin and Coakley, 2012). The rewards of consciously deploying active listening, however, are potentially very high, and may contribute towards a more positive student experience and working environment.

In this workshop, participants will learn more about how active listening can enhance their personal tutoring practices. Together we will refine our active listening skills through a series of practical, reflective activities, with a focus on the common issues that impede our ability to listen and how we can improve our skills in this area. We will also consider how listening feels from different perspectives and what kinds of behaviours we expect from a listener based on our personal experiences.

This practical session will provide participants with an opportunity for deep reflection, thinking time and discussion with others, all precious commodities in our otherwise hectic schedules.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
R1 - Build advising and tutoring relationships through empathetic listening and compassion for students, and be accessible in ways that challenge, support, nurture, and teach
R4 - Plan and conduct successful advising and tutoring interactions
R2 - Communicate in an inclusive and respectful manner