Developing a Tutor Training and Recognition Programme
This Learning Enhancement project has been funded through the HEA and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.
|PROJECT TITLE:||Developing a Tutor Training and Recognition Programme|
|PROJECT COORDINATOR:||Dr Niamh Moore-Cherry|
|PRIMARY AUDIENCE:||Newly Recruited Graduate Teaching Assistant and Professional Tutors in College of Social Sciences and Law.|
In the College of Social Sciences and Law, we aim to inform, inspire, challenge and motivate our students to reach their full potential and contribute to the life of their school, College, University and the wider world.
Tutoring is recognised as a valuable and important role in helping realise this ambition because of the contribution made to student learning and the overall student experience. The work of tutors on particular modules is overseen and the overall responsibility of the module co-ordinators. However, we recognise the potential and added value in connecting tutors across disciplines, sharing practice and establishing clear norms and expectations to ensure a more consistent undergraduate student experience.
Schools have limited resources and expertise to provide tutor training and while pedagogical training is important, a needs analysis showed that training needed to be much wider given that tutors are often to the first port of call for students who may be vulnerable, distressed or require other supports. There was a desire to develop a holistic training programme to support the student learning experience and success. Given their significant contributions, we also wanted to develop a form of recognition that would be meaningful to tutors.
This project aimed to work in partnership with faculty, staff and students to create and implement a College-wide tutor training and recognition programme for the College of Social Sciences and Law. A key goal was to support the professional development of our tutors, many of whom are graduate students across the 11 schools in our College, in order to enhance the student learning experience, but also to recognise their contributions formally to enhance their own employability. In many disciplines, tutors are the frontline of first year teaching as they engage with students in small groups. These experiences are often formative for both the students and the tutor.
The project aimed to:
- Develop a structured College level tutor training and support programme.
- Launch this programme for new tutors beginning in our College in September 2021.
- Create a way of formally recognising the contributions of tutors to the undergraduate students’ educational experience.
The Innovative Approach
This project was developed in partnership with a group of current tutors. In March 2020, the College T&L Committee held a workshop to identify ideas for better supporting and recognising tutors. An outline proposal was approved and endorsed at College Executive in April 2020. Although Covid delayed our timelines, in March 2021, an open call was made across the College inviting tutors to participate in a workshop to identify tutor needs. This was undertaken in small groups and followed up with a survey and a request for expressions of interest to get more involved.
During April and May 2021, a group of 9 tutors worked in partnership with the VPT&L to develop the training in more depth. In small working groups, tutors took responsibility for identifying key resources and writing content for each of the programme units, complementing other courses on offer across the university but trying to avoid replication. The online elements of the module are self-paced and there are face to face meetings at the start of the programme, halfway through trimester 1 where tutors have an opportunity to share practice and network, and at the end of the trimester where they complete a reflective practice exercise.
The programme will be offered for the first time in September 2021 but the key outputs are:
- A holistic College-level tutor training programme developed in a blended format using a Brightspace Explore module as the ‘learning hub’. This will be accessible to all those participating enabling them to draw on the resources throughout their time as a tutor.
- Once tutors successfully complete the online activities, participate in the three face-to-face elements, and complete a formal reflection, they will be awarded with a College Certificate in Teaching and Learning Support. This is a non-credit bearing formal certificate recognised under the CPD framework of the School of Education.
The project will lead to:
- An increased understanding by tutors of the importance of their role to the undergraduate student learning experience and a heightened level of professionalism.
- An awareness and acceptance by tutors that their contribution to the educational mission of the College is highly valued and recognised.
- An enhanced undergraduate experience of tutorials / tutor engagement which leads to greater success.
- A further embedding of students as partners ethos within our College and experience working on a ‘live project’.