Lightning Talks

Elena Etheridge (Manchester Metropolitan University )
Joanne Irving-Walton, Helen Tidy (Teesside University)
Rachel Bolton-King
Carrie Mullen
Ruth Croxton
Felicity Carlysle-Davies
Leisa Nichols-Drew
Paolo Monachello
Gary Currie
Kimberlee Moran
Larissa Nelson (Cardiff University)

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM

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Session Outline

Challenges and good practice in staff training for implementation of a personal tutoring system at scale.

Elena Etheridge (Manchester Metropolitan University )

This case study highlights some of the challenges and good practice in training and implementing a personal tutoring system in a large University department. The presentation will seek to provide delegates with examples of good practice.

Manchester Fashion Institute is a department of around 2000 students within Manchester Metropolitan University whose student population is diverse in nature. A review of the personal tutoring provision was borne out of the need to support students with an increasingly diverse number of challenges. Amongst other issues, the fallout of lockdowns and online learning have exacerbated the challenges that students currently face in navigating their student experience; necessitating a robust personal tutoring support system.

In University settings the personal tutoring role is often viewed by academics as a secondary activity, with varying motivations for staff to fulfil this role. This presented a challenge along with a staff body of around 60+ academics, many of whom were new staff within the department. Equally, a skills gap had been created due to new staff, new University systems and procedures and the evolving technologies and working practices required for staff remote working.

Emerging findings indicate the need for staff CPD for the personal tutor role and ongoing support.

The staff training and development programme and the personal tutoring system created within the department will be presented to highlight how challenges were overcome and mitigated in the design of the provision.

Using Memes to Hear the Student Voice

Joanne Irving-Walton, Helen Tidy (Teesside University); Rachel Bolton-King; Carrie Mullen; Ruth Croxton; Felicity Carlysle-Davies; Leisa Nichols-Drew; Paolo Monachello; Gary Currie; Kimberlee Moran

Transitioning to University can be an intimidating and anxious time for students. This is especially true for those who are first generation entrants and have no reference point for what University involves.

This project looked at how using memes allowed students to express their feelings upon starting University, in a relaxed and humorous manner, within personal tutor or cohort groupings. Students were asked to produce a meme (using MemeGenerator) which reflected how they felt about starting University. These were then shared with other students within the session via an anonymous Padlet. This activity was carried out over a range of universities and courses and an anonymous survey was completed at the end of the session.

Most students found that the meme making activity helped them express how they were feeling about starting University whilst the process of sharing the memes produced by the group via Padlet helped reduce anxiety in over half the students.

Meme-making in this manner allows personal tutors and course leaders to engage students in a low-stakes, entertaining and creative activity whilst also allowing real and immediate data and insights into the concerns of their students to be quickly revealed. Sharing these memes with a personal tutoring or cohort group further allows students to appreciate that they are generally not alone in their concerns. This lessens anxiety an can act as a conversation starter between peers or provide a basis for a more structured tutor led discussion.

Supporting personal tutors through the use of a digital toolkit

Larissa Nelson (Cardiff University)

Personal tutoring can be a daunting role, particularly for new members of staff. The role of the personal tutor is vast and varied, and students often reach out to their tutors with the expectation that they will have answers to their troubles. Whilst personal tutors are seen as a core contact for their students, tutors often feel that they are unsure of what to say to their tutees, what to do, how to answer questions or where to signpost if necessary.

As the Senior Personal Tutor in a department which houses nearly 100 members of academic staff serving approximately 1600 undergraduate students, we identified the need to provide a digital platform to enable staff to feel more supported. Together with the toolkit, regular online meetings were scheduled in timetables to encourage interaction between tutors and their tutees.

In this talk we will present the digital platform, the Personal Tutor Toolkit, and reflect on how it has helped to support our members of staff by providing a live, tailor made resource that is kept up to date by the senior personal tutor. A significant part of the toolkit is aligned to the scheduled meetings in which we were able to provide meeting-specific material for tutors containing ideas, suggested discussion points, relevant updates and general information to help support and encourage the tutor-tutee interaction, and in doing so, minimise the additional burden on tutors. The toolkit also allows for some uniformity across the student experience whilst also providing a one-stop pit stop for tutors to feel more confident in where to go to be able to find relevant information and accurate signposting to contacts/resources if necessary.

Feedback from staff has shown that this platform has been a great success. It has been beneficial for both new and existing staff members as an informative resource. It has been recognised for helping increase tutor engagement, reduce tutor anxiety, all whilst reducing the flow of emails. As a first of its kind within the University, it has been seen as exemplary by other departments and described as an example of exceptional practice to support staff in being personal tutors.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C1 - Core values of academic advising and tutoring
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
C5 - How equitable and inclusive environments are created and maintained
I1 - HE Provider mission, vision, values, and culture
I2 - Curriculum, degree programmes and pathways, including options
I3 - HE Provider policies, procedures, rules, and regulations
I4 - Legal guidelines and tutoring practice, including privacy regulations and confidentiality
I5 - The characteristics, needs, and experiences of major and emerging student populations
I6 - Campus and community resources that support student success
I7 - Data and information technology applicable to tutoring
R3 - Motivate, encourage, and support students to recognize their potential, meet challenges, and respect individuality
R4 - Plan and conduct successful advising and tutoring interactions
R5 - Promote student understanding of the logic and purpose of the curriculum
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners
P2 - Appreciate students’ views and cultures, maintain a student-centred approach and mindset, and treat students with sensitivity and fairness
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
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
I5 - The characteristics, needs, and experiences of major and emerging student populations
R4 - Plan and conduct successful advising and tutoring interactions
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
C5 - How equitable and inclusive environments are created and maintained
P4 - Understand the implications of quality assurance and quality enhancement, and engage in on-going evaluation and development of advising and tutoring practice