Enhancing the Student Experience by Embedding Personal Tutoring in the Curriculum
Stevenson, Nancy, Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education
This paper evaluates an initiative to improve the effectiveness of personal tutoring by embedding it into the curriculum. Structured group tutorials help students make the transition to learning in higher education. These tutorials are delivered within a core module and focus on enabling students to develop study skills, reflect on their learning and plan for their future. The tutor has a role in familiarising students with the practices, norms and skills required for learning at university. The system developed provides a structure and rationale for the interaction of tutors and students, with a clear place and value within the curriculum.
Keywords: personal tutoring; curriculum; personal development planning (PDP)
Introduction and Context
The decision to review personal tutoring at the University of Westminster (UoW) arose in the environment of a national agenda which is focused on widening participation in higher education (HE). This agenda has resulted in a student population which is increasingly diverse, has wide-ranging experiences and which sometimes lacks understanding of the demands of learning in an HE environment. Initiatives have been developed with the aim of improving the student experience and student progression/retention (National Audit Office [NAO], 2002) and have recommended investment to support students through the early period of their studies (Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), as cited in Hixenbaugh, Porter, & Williams, 2008). In this context many institutions are reviewing their support processes to ensure they enhance the experience of a diverse cohort of students and enable them to participate and achieve in HE learning (Dunne, 2005; Luck, 2005; Palmer, 2006; Stevenson, 2006 & Strivens, 2006).
Initiatives to review student support are motivated by the aim to improve the student experience and to improve progression/retention. In studies by the NAO (2002) and Wickens, Forbes and Tribe. (2006), lack of understanding of the demands of HE was identified as a key contributor to underperformance and dropout. Hixenbaugh et al. (2008) undertook a survey over 3 years to investigate factors that enable students to succeed. Students' perceptions of their physical and mental health, social and academic integration, and lifestyle variables such as the educational experience of parents, were considered. Significant differences were identified between the perceptions of students who had seriously considered abandoning their course and those who had not. Those who had considered leaving felt less integrated into the university, with less social support, lower satisfaction with their courses and greater concerns about their own well-being. The educational achievement of parents was a significant factor, which the researchers connected with socially acquired beliefs about studying at university. It appears that "the less realistic the expectations [of new students,] the more of a shock the reality and the more effort required to adjust and adapt" (Hixenbaugh et al., 2008, p. 7).
The development of a new university-wide personal tutoring policy reflected the contextual changes outlined above. It was focused on improving the student experience by improving mechanisms to support and integrate students into the HE environment. The author was engaged in a working group which was set the task of developing the policy and created a pilot study to apply the policy prior its formal adoption. The pilot study was developed on the undergraduate tourism courses and provided a basis to inform practice in personal tutoring for students of the School of Architecture and the Built Environment (SABE) and more widely in UoW.
University policy on personal tutoring aims to improve the student experience and to improve retention and progression. It sets out minimum requirements for tutoring and entails the provision of "a programme of regular …
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Publication information: Article title: Enhancing the Student Experience by Embedding Personal Tutoring in the Curriculum. Contributors: Stevenson, Nancy - Author. Journal title: Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education. Volume: 8. Issue: 2 Publication date: October 2009. Page number: 117+. © OXFORD BROOKES UNIVERSITY Apr 2010. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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