The role of the personal tutor is about supporting and developing tutees and acknowledging the ‘whole student’ in terms of their pastoral, developmental and academic needs. Recent research suggests that learner-centred coaching approaches can be a useful way of framing positive, developmental tutor:tutee conversations (Gurbutt and Gurbutt, 2015).

As a personal tutor it can be very tempting to try and ‘fix’ a tutee by providing all of the direction and all of the answers, using a directive style e.g. “Go to see Careers” or “You need to do this”. An effective personal tutor creates the right climate for their tutee to think about and generate their own solution to issues, through using a more non-directive coaching approach, in which they listen actively, reflect and summarise, and ask solution orientated questions to support a tutee to move forward in their thinking about their issues.

Of course there is still the need for personal tutors to offer advice and guidance where appropriate, and to use your judgement on when this might be the right approach. By expanding your skillset to incorporate non-directive coaching approaches, you are more likely to empower students to identify solutions that work for them regarding their learning and their life at Imperial.

As a personal tutor at Imperial you are not expected to become a formally accredited coach (though opportunities exist through the Imperial Coaching Academy for those that are interested in pursuing this); rather it is about adopting some coaching principles and skills to have more productive and positive developmental conversations with your tutees.

Alternatively, Dr Arti Maini, along with the Digital Learning Hub, has developed a free to use MOOC on Coaching for Learner Centred Conversations, that provides an introduction to coaching skills and how these can be applied in educational contexts to.