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Assignment 4 :

Personal tutoring Wiki contribution

The concept of personal tutoring has a distinct and clear value within Higher Education. Students from a variety of backgrounds are brought together to an academic environment and will need support, advice and sometimes a certain degree of counselling to help them engage with the university experience and make the most the available opportunities.

I consider the term “personal tutoring” to be, above all, a supportive role. To act as a listener and advisor, not just with academic issues but with any issue. Like Greek holistic medicine treat the whole person. But as we have seen in the Wiki already, and further reading on the subject suggests a diverse understanding of what is meant by personal tutoring.

There are certain circumstances within Higher Education now which make it much more important to have a policy of personal tutoring:

Higher tuition fees (enhancing the student experience)

Increasing student-to-staff ratio (students experience less contact time with staff)

Retention of students (a significant issue for all HEIs)

Increasing emphasis on Widening Participation (Trotter 2004)

The changing student-to-staff ratio can result in students feeling detached from their Higher Education experience and disengaged with their community of learners. Larger cohorts of students mean that academic staff have less opportunity to spend time with individual students. Personal tutoring could provide an opportunity for students to feel connected to their course and to “repersonalise education” (Atwood 2009).

Although University College Falmouth does not currently have an institution wide system of personal tutoring, there are Educational Development Lecturers (EDLs) who do liaise with support services and coordinate care of students that seek help. However, a greater systematic approach would ensure that all students have similar opportunities for receiving this support (Swain 2008).

All members of staff that students encounter during their academic journey have a certain degree of responsibility to respond to a need for pastoral care. This could simply be to have the appropriate information to refer students on to the relevant support service or EDL.

As an Academic Liaison Librarian, I meet with students on a one-to-one basis to provide support with research. This type of tuition requires the librarian to listen and adapt support according to the needs of the student. Students often choose to open up in this type of situation as the librarian:

Is separate from the Programme of study (not involved in assessment)

Is working with students on a personal basis (sometimes personal problems affect concentration, preparation for these meetings)

Needs to accommodate different learning styles (address dyslexia or neuro-diverse considerations)

I consider that personal tutoring can significantly enhance the student experience and would be worth the financial investment required to implement a system across the institution, as Oxford Brookes University has done. Oxford Brookes University, moreover, recognised the importance of having a role to coordinate a personal tutoring system to ensure communication remains strong to prevent students from missing out on any support or help they may need throughout their degree programme.


ATWOOD, Rachel. 2009. ‘The Personal Touch’ in Times Higher Education *online+. Available at: (accessed 06 June


SWAIN, Harriet. 2008. ‘The Personal Tutor’ in Times Higher Education *online+. Available at:

(accessed 07 June 2011)

TROTTER, Eileen. 2004. ‘Personal Tutoring: Policy vs Reality’ Paper presented at the Education in a Changing Environment 13-14 September 2004. Available at:

olicy_V_Reality_of_Practice.pdf (accessed 07 June 2011)

WISKER, Gina, EXLEY, Kate, ANTONIOU, Maria and RIDLEY, Pauline. 2008. Working one-to- one with students: supervising, coaching, mentoring and personal tutoring. Abingdon: