Students often ask their Personal Tutors questions about their degree programme so that they can make informed choices. They might also seek guidance on how to develop study skills and prepare for assessment.
Quotes from IC student and PT
"She has been giving me essay writing tutorials and has wished me good luck for my exams."
"He knows his way around the Life Sciences degree as well as the concerns of a student pursuing it. This has helped me on several occasions as he is often my first port of call for any unfamiliar College matter."
"Find out about the programme they are studying so that you can give correct, useful and timely advice about:
- Locations of labs, lecture theatres, seminar rooms, teaching office etc.
- Compulsory courses and an overview of their content
- Optional courses and how they are selected
- Intercalated years (in industry, etc.) and degrees with a year in the Business School, including how to transfer on to /off of these
- Final year projects and how they are selected
- Dates of exams and resits
Much of this will be in their student handbook which you should refer them to." (Personal Tutor, Department of Life Sciences)
Personal Tutors might reasonably be expected to assist in these areas:
The more self-directed approach to study expected at university might be very unfamiliar to your tutees. They may also find that the study strategies that they had successfully applied in the past do not work at Imperial.
Opportunities to develop the required academic skills and practices should be embedded into the curriculum, so it is worth consulting your tutee’s programme handbook or finding out from the Programme Lead so that you can signpost this for your tutee. Or you might task your tutee with doing this.
Advise students on appropriate learning strategies, time management, drawing up study plans, note taking in lectures, how to research a topic and how to go about writing a report or essay. Direct students to the Success Guide for comprehensive ideas on learning at university.
LearnHigher is a university sector-wide website offering resources to staff and students to support the development of skills and practices necessary for learning at university.
Imperial Student Space offers advice on the many social, emotional and practical issues which can impact on learning and studying, as well as suggesting ways for getting the most out of College.
The Graduate School offers a suite of Professional Skills courses to assist postgraduate students in their studies and beyond.
"Know about the course that they are studying especially the assessments because these are the biggest sources of anxiety." (Personal Tutor, Faculty of Medicine)
Advise students on preparing for assessment. This might include:
- Making them aware of the purpose of assessment and feedback at Imperial and how this might be different from school, college or other universities. The Imperial Success Guide offers a useful overview.
- Discussing the requirements of their assignment briefs. These are not always as clear and student friendly as they could be. For guidelines on effectively communicating to students what is required and expected of them in an assignment see the Assignment Brief Design project website.
- Helping students to cope with assessment-related stress. This may involve discussing study and revision approaches and sign-posting workshops and courses and 'The Kind Mind Series'.
Directing your tutees to advice on the Student Support Zone on aspects such as sleep, time management, personal resilience and work-life balance.
"Since first year he has been pushing me to achieve my potential and to stretch myself rather than going the easy way." (Imperial student)
You may need to assist students with developing responsibility for their own academic progress. As well as discussing how they are managing the transition to more self-directed learning you might signpost the guidance and practical tips on the Success Guide.
For some students not being ‘top of the class’ and getting the very high marks may come a shock. This can knock their confidence and affect their motivation so may need to be addressed. The Student Support Zone offers advice on how to cope and succeed as an Imperial student.
Personal Tutors are advised to keep copies of all their correspondence with their tutees. See advice on keeping confidential notes. Personal Tutors may be required to write reports on their tutees and to provide references.
Throughout their degree students are expected to work with others in small groups, perhaps in a laboratory class, during a tutorial, or as part of their own study time.
Students may look to you for advice on how to manage fellow students. You are probably most useful as a sounding board, asking questions that encourage your tutee to reflect on how they want to manage the situation. The Imperial Success Guide offers them some useful advice on working with others.
To avoid falling into the trap of giving your solution to their problem, see guidance on using the OARS.
If you are told about or suspect bullying or harassment you should advise your Senior Tutor and consult the Harassment, Bullying and Victimisation advice.
Giving Feedback to Students
As a Personal Tutor you’re in a good position to have conversations with tutees that enable them to make sense of the many sources of feedback they recieve and feed it forward into future work.
- Engaging students with feedback they can use
- Improving through feedback
- A practical guide to giving effective feedback workshop
Students should also be encouraged to develop their ability to self-assess. For example, after exams or coursework submission you might ask:
- What do they think about their performance/progress?
- What have been their particular strengths?
- How could it be improved?
- What have they learnt through doing the assessment?
- What will they do differently next time?
"Make sure you find out how they are doing academically, especially remembering to make contact after each batch of exam results comes out." (Personal Tutor, Department of Life Sciences)