Lightning Talks

John Morton (University of Greenwich)
Helen Smith (University of Sunderland)
Samuel Fairlamb (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Juliet Holdstock (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Monday, April 8, 2024 2:30 PM - 3:15 PM

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Session Outline

A Case for 'Form' - Organising Tutoring as the Core of Welcome Week and Year 1 of Studies

John Morton (University of Greenwich)

This presentation will advocate for the organisation of University Welcome Weeks primarily via Tutor Groups.

It is based on the idea that Universities differ so radically from secondary school that there is substantial benefit to students in them initial maintenance of something that approximates the 'Form' they are used to at School in the UK - and if from a different educational background, that students typically benefit from the expectation of close contact with and attention from a member of University staff.

It will suggest a strategy for tutoring focusing on Welcome Week, outlining suggestions for ways in which tutors and programmes might engage students as soon as they arrive on campus, in order to avoid the consistent problem of students claiming not to know who their Tutor is and feeling disconnected from University support as a result, at a time when they often expect staff to have been briefed on their backgrounds and educational needs in the manner of their beginning secondary school and sixth form.

It will be based on the good practice by colleagues in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Greenwich. It will consist of two main sections.

The first will consider pre-planning and seminar allocation, suggesting that tutees be allocated to the same seminar group for one core module at each level of study, where they should ideally be taught by their Tutor.

The second will suggest a series of tutorial meetings staggered over days in Welcome Week, involving campus tours, academic exercises and wider programme meetings, as a way to ensure tutees are familiar with both their Tutor and the campus by the end of their first week of study.

This recognition will mean students always know who to turn to and who to see with problems and concerns they might have, which will enhance engagement, attendance, and thus academic success and personal development.

Student Progression through their PAT experience

Helen Smith (University of Sunderland)

Do we build progression for students into our models of Personal Academic Tutoring? Are we missing a trick? How might a new approach to structuring Tutor relationships to build confidence and independence across Years 1,2 & 3 build students professional and personal skills. Making them more ready for life after graduation.

Underpinning this is an interest in knowing how student progression supports graduate progression. The context for this is a role as Academic Support Lead for Arts & Design at University of Sunderland. This role leads a faculty wide approach to PAT. Art & Design students require strong professional identities for their future career. Can they gain relevant skills and experience from increased responsibility for setting up and reflecting upon their PAT sessions as they progress from Yr 1 to Yr3. Might navigating the organizational institutions in which they are studying offer fertile ground for a valuable learning experience.

This lightening session seeks to expand on this question as a conversation. It is a starting point for further research and invites fellow practitioners to share examples of this approach for further collaboration.


England, L. (2023) ‘Crafting professionals: Logics of professional development in craft higher education’, Arts and humanities in higher education, 22(2), pp. 128–147. Available at:

Stuart, K., Willocks, K. and Browning, R. (2021) ‘Questioning personal tutoring in higher education: an activity theoretical action research study’, Educational action research, 29(1), pp. 79–98. Available at:

Personal tutoring for large cohorts using linked lectures and individual meetings

Samuel Fairlamb (Royal Holloway, University of London); Juliet Holdstock (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Reforms dedicated to widening access in UK Higher Education have led to the proliferation of large cohort teaching, and subsequent difficulties in how such large cohorts can be appropriately supported, especially within the context of a personal tutoring system (e.g., Stephen et al., 2008). Given how important personal tutoring can be for student success (e.g., McFarlane, 2016; Thomas, 2006; Yale, 2019), it is clear that serious consideration needs to be given to how one might produce an effective but efficient personal tutoring system for large cohorts. The objective of this talk is to provide a case study of one approach to supporting a large (250-300) cohort of students in a UK Higher Education Institution, using a combination of scheduled informational lectures and complementary individual personal tutoring meetings which give the students the opportunity to reflect on and discuss those issues of most personal relevance from the lectures. This approach enables information relevant to the development of core academic skills, such as using feedback, preparing for examinations, and effective study skills, to be delivered in a consistent and efficient way across the student cohort by staff with relevant expertise, while also providing greater structure to individual personal tutoring meetings, which are tailored to provide focused, individualised academic skills development support in addition to ongoing support for wellbeing and career planning. The semi-structured nature of the individual personal tutoring meetings has the additional advantage of providing greater clarity of the role of the personal tutor, and the purpose of the personal tutoring meetings, for both tutors and students (Wakelin, 2019), which it is hoped will increase student engagement with the personal tutoring system and increase personal tutor confidence. We will discuss some of the strengths, as well as limitations, of such an approach, and offer some advice on pitfalls to avoid for those considering deploying a similar system to supporting their students.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
I5 - The characteristics, needs, and experiences of major and emerging student populations
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