Personal Tutor and Academic Advising Training ideas.

Julie J Warden (University of Bradford)
Peter Fitch (UCL)
Hengyi Wang (Univeristy of Sussex Business School)

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

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Session Outline

Personal tutor and academic advisor training varies across institutions. Lochtie et al.’s (2018) ‘self-assessment of 13 core personal tutor skills’ has been used in initial staff training sessions to encourage reflection on current skills set and approaches. The self-assessment suggested that staff are more confident with active listening and building a genuine rapport. However, staff are less confident with both challenging and developing independence and resilience – putting the relational skills into practice to support student development and autonomy.

This presentation will explore similarities in staff needs in these areas, across our institutions, and provide examples of how we approach development and support in two specific areas:

1. We will explore how solution-focused coaching is integrated into staff development provisions for staff to use in one-to-one conversations with tutees, as engaging students in dialogue requires skill development. This is based on the notion that well framed conversations with tutees can enable positive change to occur, but student perspectives may need reframing and solutions explored (Gurbutt and Gurbutt 2015). At two institutions, we found staff had a way of structuring conversations but were unaware of the models they were based on. Equally the conversations often resulted limited action being taken by the student. Having an opportunity to practice applying a model with a colleague based on a scenario linked to one of their tutees increased confidence.

2. Personal tutors and academic advisors are often the first port of call for students in need, and therefore signposting students to support is key. However, students may encounter challenges in accessing support due to a lack of awareness, time constraints, difficulties in self-organization, and are exacerbated by issues related to self-esteem and the formation of personal support networks (Heagney & Benson, 2017; Picton & Kahu, 2021). Recognising these challenges, Personal tutors and academic advisors have been identified as potential solutions to enhance student access to support (Picton & Kahu, 2021). Institutions take different approaches to this to train staff to support students with this. Examples include intranet pages signposting to support with FAQs, automated triaging tools, and general signposting in development workshops and newsletters. Scenarios and case studies tend to be an effective approach for demonstrating impact, and how and where to use these central services.

We will close by inviting participants to share relevant examples of personal tutoring and academic advisor training from their institutions, and to identify additional needs and challenges we might explore addressing as a national UKAT community (through UKAT’s offerings and a combined approach to staff development and training).

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
I6 - Campus and community resources that support student success
R4 - Plan and conduct successful advising and tutoring interactions