Paving the way for a fresh approach to personal tutoring

Matt James (St Mary's University Twickenham)
Clare Saunders (Staffordshire University)

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 1:30 PM - 2:15 PM

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Session Outline

In this workshop we invite colleagues to join, and adapt for their context, the personal tutoring journey our institution has undertaken. We model how we took the potentially dry task of updating a policy and used this to reinvigorate a ‘whole university’ approach and commitment to personal tutoring.

We explore together key landscape features and milestones of our journey, travelling from a ‘one size fits all’ approach (robust in principle but patchy in implementation), to a framework-based model which allows for flexibility according to context and need whilst ensuring parity of support for all students. These include:

Mapping the landscape and charting your destination. St Mary’s Twickenham is a small university with a proud tradition of nurturing students from under-represented groups and a strong track record in student experience (TEF Gold); however, recent changes to our structures, portfolio and students’ profile placed increasing pressure on our established personal tutoring system, necessitating a comprehensive review. What question(s) do you need to answer in your context, and what does success look like?

Companions and kit for your journey. A key strength of our process was bringing together academic and professional staff and students from across the university, enabling us to unearth diverse practices, celebrate strengths and understand challenges; and identify and address ‘conditions for success’ for effective personal tutoring. Who needs to be on your team; how will they work together; and what resources do they need to build and deliver your shared vision of personal tutoring?

Finding your pathway(s). For us this involved establishing shared principles and expectations, but also embracing and embedding autonomy for each School of the University to build a personal tutoring model within this framework that was adapted to their subject and students’ context; underpinned by University systems and processes that can accommodate this flexibility whilst assuring parity of provision for all students. What is the right balance for you between consistency and flexibility, and what does it look like to deliver this in practice?

We share with colleagues the outcomes of our own journey, including our PAVE model of personal tutoring – Pastoral, Academic, Vocation and Environment – as well as the core principles and expectations of our flexible framework. We also outline the ‘conditions for success’ for us to realise this vision, including clear roles, responsibilities, and workload allocations for all involved; resources, development opportunities and peer support for personal tutors; and systems and data to streamline processes and enable an evidence-informed approach.

However, our process was as important as the destination, not least but not only to secure ‘buy in’ across the university to reimagine personal tutoring; the workshop format enables us to explore together lessons learned and how these can be adapted for your context.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
I3 - HE Provider policies, procedures, rules, and regulations
P4 - Understand the implications of quality assurance and quality enhancement, and engage in on-going evaluation and development of advising and tutoring practice