If you aren’t measuring it, how can it count? PAT performance and incentivising engagment

Graham N Baxendale (University of Southampton)

Monday, April 8, 2024 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM

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Session Outline

The central role of the personal academic tutor system in supporting students’ academic progression and pastoral welfare is widely acknowledged in universities’ institutional rhetoric and the academic literature. However, in an environment where performance metrics and outputs are central to judging our appointments, appraisals, and promotions, are we including the PAT role in such assessments? If not, they why would a rational actor prioritise this aspect of their job over others that are more likely to improve their professional (and economic) standing? This session addresses this issue and explores how the PAT role may be integrated into formal structures to promote positive engagement with it.

Presentations on personal academic tutoring predominantly highlight the hard work and dedication of professional services staff and academics striving to better prepare staff to be the best advisors they can be, through in-house training programmes and other innovations. Most often these are by academics who have chosen to focus on this aspect of their jobs and have actively chosen organizational roles advocating for student welfare. But their effectiveness relies upon wider buy-in to these priorities from academic staff whose performance of these duties will be highly unlikely to impact their career path. When choosing to allocate time to meeting with students or writing a paper or a grant application, why should an academic choose the former? Are there positive and negative consequences for the tutor role comparable to those for publishing or attracting funding? Without structural incentives the PAT role will remain the poor relation of more rewarded functions required from academic staff.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
P3 - Commit to students, colleagues, and their institutions through engagement in continuing professional development, scholarly enquiry, and the evaluation of professional practices
P4 - Understand the implications of quality assurance and quality enhancement, and engage in on-going evaluation and development of advising and tutoring practice
C1 - Core values of academic advising and tutoring