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Personal Tutoring - What students want : First Year Students Experiences Background:  Transition:  Transition: many not prepared for managing the demands.

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Presentation on theme: "Personal Tutoring - What students want : First Year Students Experiences Background:  Transition:  Transition: many not prepared for managing the demands."— Presentation transcript:


2 Personal Tutoring - What students want : First Year Students Experiences Background:  Transition:  Transition: many not prepared for managing the demands of Higher Education (e.g. Cook & Leckey, 1999)  Early intervention: ‘bridge the gap between school and university quickly & effectively’ (e.g. Lowe & Cook, 2003)  Social and Academic Integration: academic and social integration are vital during students’ first year at University, as is institutional commitment to giving support (e.g. Tinto, 1996, 2002)  Sense of Belonging: a ‘sense of belonging in students’ can make the difference between ‘dropping out’ and staying on for some students (e.g.Kember, Lee & Li, 2002)

3 Student Perspectives on Personal Tutoring: What do students want? Hixenbaugh P., Pearson C., Williams. D. (2006) Aim: To explore the experiences of our first year students and personal tutors (Regent Street Campus) Design:  Questionnaire to all teaching staff  Questionnaire to all first year students  Interviews 1 st year course representatives – Psychology, Modern Languages, English and Law  Focus Groups – 48 1 st year Psychology undergraduates  Interviews - with 15 1 st, 2 nd and 3 rd year undergraduates

4 Results: Teaching Staff Questionnaire - Main Points:  Agreement 1 st year tutees have the greatest need for personal tutoring  Majority 62% felt the personal tutoring system was working well for both staff and students Student Questionnaire – Questions:  Considered ‘dropping out’?  Who they had talked to?  Personal tutoring – frequency, continuity, accessibility, helpfulness & satisfaction, wanted, improvement

5 Findings:  69.8% - met personal tutor during Induction  10.5% - didn’t know the name of personal tutor  55% - stated didn’t need to see personal tutor – although some had on 15 or more occasions Data suggested:  Students wanted to see their personal tutor more than they needed to see them  Students gained a sense of support from the knowledge that they could approach their personal tutor – regardless of whether they needed to or not

6 Retention:  18.6% - considered ‘dropping out’ – financial difficulty, volume/pressure/difficulty of work, feeling overwhelmed  Data suggested:  Lack of confidence – ability to cope with demands  Social Network system – main source of support  Cause of concern – 26.3% reported not discussing this with anyone

7 Personal Tutoring wanted:  Academic and Personal Advice  Continuity  Greater Accessibility Dissatisfaction - most were actually happy with personal tutors - small number expressed dissatisfaction suggesting tutors needed to: Understand students better Cooperate with students more Be more reliable Form closer links  Structured regular sessions with active feedback and some sessions compulsory

8 Student Focus Groups and Interviews: 1. First Contact with Personal Tutor:  All had met their personal tutor during induction  Initial meeting positive - exchange relevant information  All but one reported being happy with the initial contact 2. Personal experience of Personal Tutoring System  Amount of Contact - sporadic but all had seen personal tutors at least twice. Very little development of relationship with tutor for most

9  Accessibility – major issue for most students Practical Level – accessible through office hours, email & phone. BUT stressed need for speedy responses Personal Level – overall positive experience −tutors seen as ‘busy people’ reluctant to bother them −tutors ‘gender’ raised −approachability: › positive = sociable, helpful & understanding ›negative = general manner, tone of voice, no familiarity

10 Support:  Academic Support – overall positive. Academic support seemed to take two forms: University Processes: advice was given on processes such as plagiarism and internal referrals, fees and module enquires Course Related Issues: advice in terms of referrals to appropriate material, books, websites and other staff  Personal Support – concern none of the students had seen their personal tutors on personal matters one student would have been appropriate others felt unable to go to their personal tutor – despite actually experiencing difficulties

11 Suggestions:  Enforced Meetings – not just ‘drop in sessions’  Email Contact - by students  Academic Tutorials – throughout 1 st yr.  Selection of tutors – more selective  Mobile phones contact – main contact source for students  Coverage for absenteeism Conclusions:  System working well in places  Evidence of good practice  Students wanted more structure  Personal tutors should take more active role  Students want to be able to relate to tutors, they should be enthusiastic and care about them Overall Conclusion – we should be PROACTIVE not REACTIVE

12 Other research findings relevant to retention: Students both implicitly and explicitly reported that they had developed a ‘lack of motivation to attend’  Isolation – have to make a number of difficult transitional moves: directed to self-directed learning; controlled to self- control; familiarity to anonymity; teaching led tutorial to student led tutorial contact  Demoralisation – heavy work load; deadlines; perceived lack of help from staff; fear of failure In turn this led to feelings about ‘dropping out’ – wanted better pastoral care and a clearer definition of tutoring system

13 What changes were made? Major changes in particular to level 4 – across the University Department of Psychology:  Induction – social event to meet Personal Tutors, Key staff and other staff members  Tutoring linked to year long core module – Research Methods – Practical sessions taken by tutors  Full time/fractional staff only  Designated Office hours - two hours per week  E-Mentoring  Attendance monitoring and follow up  1 st Year Coordinator

14 Personal Tutor Policy ‘organic process’ – systematic reviews of quality and standards; Proactive Approach Other Initiatives:  30 credit year long modules – continuity, deep learning  Westminster Change Academy - joint project with SU  Student Forum – agenda set by students (3 per year)  Student Charter - Has it made a difference? Retention rates are improving year on year. Contact:

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