Belonging and mattering for personal tutors

Karen Kenny (University of Exeter)

Monday, April 8, 2024 11:30 AM - 12:15 PM

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Session Outline

I developed this workshop to support tutors in developing their understanding of what ‘mattering’ means to students.

Following attending Clair Zawada's fascinating UKAT seminar (Zawada 2022) when she spoke about her work in measuring Belonging and Mattering, I wanted to help support tutors at Exeter to develop an understanding of the distinction between concepts of belonging and mattering. In conversation it quickly became apparent that this was an area of interest to many colleagues.

To develop a workshop I used one of the scales that Zawada mentioned (Elliott, Kao et al. 2004) and switched the terminology so that the questions were directed towards tutors rather than students. For example: “Notices me” became “I notice my tutees”. This then allowed me to create a set of cards which could be discussed and ranked in small groups. This activity inspired conversation and discussion of practice as well as sharing of key ideas across disciplines and faculties.

When I began to deliver the workshop, it immediately became apparent that colleagues who attended had never considered their practice in these terms before. The conversation, which was created around the tables where groups were working, was fascinating. Insights were being formed as colleagues worked together to develop their own understanding of the terminology as well as bringing their experiences to the discussion. Feedback from these early attendees was extremely strong, so I have timetabled the sessions to run again throughout 2024.

In this interactive workshop we will begin with a brief overview of the concepts of belonging and mattering, before moving on to ranking the mattering statements. This will be followed by some conversation around barriers to good practice and identifying some strategies to address those barriers.

The delegates who attend this workshop will benefit from having engaged with an important scale for considering how students perceive mattering and considered their own practice in this area alongside colleagues from different contexts. This in turn will allow them to take this way of looking at and nurturing student self-concept back to their home institutions.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C2 - Theory relevant to academic advising and tutoring
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
I5 - The characteristics, needs, and experiences of major and emerging student populations
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners
R1 - Build advising and tutoring relationships through empathetic listening and compassion for students, and be accessible in ways that challenge, support, nurture, and teach