Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Role of the Tutor Collaborating on University Educaiton

A tutor’s guide to teaching
and learning at UQ
Bath, Smith & Steel, 2019
In looking for materials to teach university tutors, I came across "A tutor’s guide to teaching and learning at UQ" (Bath, Smith & Steel, 2019). This is a detailed 68 page document from the University of Queensland's Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation, intended to be read alongside the training offered to UQ tutors. It starts with responsibilities of a tutor, then addresses fears and concerns, preparation and planning. Then there is a chapter on how students learn, emphasizing that just telling students is not very effect, you have to get them to do something. The next chapter is "Effective small group teaching and learning". This is then followed by assessment, evaluation, and resources.

The emphasis in this guide is on small small group teaching (with mention made of classes of 16 students). The assumption is that the tutor works alone with a class, making up their own lessons. However, students are increasingly instructed in large groups, with a team of instructors, following a pre-designed lesson plan. Even where the tutor is on their own, they need to follow what the student is being asked to learn and do, in the course notes, lectures, videos and other instruction.

As a student myself, and as a tutor, a major frustration, and source of confusion has been when the tutor doesn't know what is going on in the rest of the course, so doesn't know how to support the students. As a tutor, on occasion, I have asked the students what was said in lectures. This can be a useful way to see what students have retained, and what misunderstanding there have been, but often it is because I really don't know what they were told.

I suggest tutors need to be trained to work collaboratively, with fellow tutors and the course supervisor. It is not be enough for the tutor to sit back and wait for this collaboration to happen, as many supervisors are too busy to organize it, don't understand the importance of this, or how to do it.

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