How to support your students
We have created some tips and guidance below that you can use at any of the stages of the Imperial Award to help your tutees.
Tips for tutors
- Encourage your students to register as early as possible and to record their activities and experiences in their online portfolio.
- Reassure students that, even if a student decides not to write and submit a reflective piece, they will benefit from having a portfolio of their activites.
- Students will have had many developmental experiences whilst at Imperial; let them know that they can use any academic or non-academic experience towards the Award.
- Remind final year students that they must submit their statements in due time.
Document activities and experiences
- Reassure your tutee that, whilst you can see an overview of your their activities and experiences, no one can see the detailed descriptions in their portfolio.
- Encourage tutees to include failures as well as successes; it is not a job application nor grant proposal.
- Encourage tutees to include informal experiences, for example: juggling family and studies; handling bereavement; landlord disputes; or coping with an illness/disability.
Mapping attributes to experiences
- Challenge your tutee to persuade you about how their experience transformed them into having the attributes they have claimed.
- Use the Mentor Overview matrix table as a starting point for conversations about mapping; to access this, log in to the Imperial Award system.
- Remind your tutees that they can edit everything in their online portfolio; edits on their portfolio pages will update their matrix.
- Point your tutee to the Reflection guide, where we explain how reflection forms part of Kolb's experiential learning cycle.
- From the pilot scheme we know that many Imperial students mistake describing their experiences for reflection upon their experiences; remind them to read page 6 of the Reflection guide to see the difference.
- Explain reflection as "interviewing yourself and listening to your own answers". Advise tutees to "listen like a scientist, weighing the evidence/argument".
- To sharpen the focus of their reflection, remind your tutees to use the formal wording of the attributes during discussions with you or when interviewing themselves.
Preparing a reflective submission
- Challenge your tutee to review their own draft submisison against the Award criteria, so that they have clarity on where they need feedback from you.
- Feedback on a tutee’s review of their own draft submissions can be given by email/call as easily as in person.
- Use the mock assessments with assessor’s comments, available on the submission information page, to start a discussion with a tutee who struggles with reflective thinking.
- For students who have little of experience of reflective on their personal experiences, recommend the self-interview tool in the Reflection guide (PDF).
- If a submission sounds like a job application, then it is likely more descriptive than reflective - discuss how failures, errors or uncomfortable situations transformed your tutee’s thinking and encourage them to include such reflections.
Assessment by Award assessors
- Ask to see your tutee’s feedback from the Award assessors, if they are happy to share it.
- Celebrate success, and remind others that there is no risk resubmitting a submission - in fact, it is a valuable part of the reflective process.
- Resubmission is easy and there are multiple assessment cycles per year to choose from.
- Encourage a tutee whose submission "Needs Development", to re-read the criteria, show you the official assessor’s feedback, then redraft and resubmit.
- Ask a tutee who redrafts their submission to do the exercise of self-assessing their draft against the Award criteria, ahead of their meeting with you; this will make the meeting more effective for both of you.
Opportunity for staff
- Assessors are drawn from College staff, both academic and non-academic, interested in developing students to think more deeply about their own development. If you are interested in joining the College-level panel, deciding if submissions meet the Award criteria and gives feedback, contact email@example.com.
- Personal Tutors are not the only source of feedback and support for students; if they are struggling with the Award, direct them to the Student Guide, Imperial Award workshops/mentoring sessions and/or suggest they find a student buddy who is also doing the Award. Discussion with other students they already know or at workshops is very helpful.
- If your tutee seeks advice on whether their activity ‘qualifies’ for the Award, tell them to look at the Student Guide and see that the Award is not for the quality of the activity, but for their ability to reflect on their experiences and then persuade the assessors that they have developed the Award attributes. This sounds complex initially so the Student Guide is designed to clarify the process.
- If your tutee seeks advice on whether to prepare a reflective submission for assessment, give feedback that there is no risk in preparing a submission and getting feedback from the assessors, but they should not prepare a submission until they have truly done the reflection required.
The Imperial Award team would be grateful to hear of the types of questions asked by your tutees and to hear of any feedback tips you develop.
- Personal Tutors may find that it is helpful to look at their tutee’s page on the Imperial Award system, when writing academic references, to have specific detail of activities by the student alongside their degree.
- Personal Tutors who are asked for information about students for departmental prizes may like to draw the prize committee’s attention to the student’s participation in the Imperial Award, as evidence of a proactive all-round student.