Most departments take a structured approach to arranging tutorials, particularly tutorials with first-year tutees. There are usually a set number of times you should meet with tutees and specific activities to be completed in each tutorial. These are designed to help students make the transition to university and to support them through the annual academic cycle.
In the later years tutees are expected to become increasingly autonomous - the Imperial Success Guide offers advice on how.
Consult your Senior Tutor for details of the frequency and purpose of tutorial meetings.
Across College Personal Tutors arrange tutor-tutee meetings in a combination of the following ways. It is important that your tutees are exposed to the different types of tutorial as they have different purposes.
Tutor's tip and student perspective
"Keep tutorials responsive to students’ needs and take an interest in all personal tutees and their activities. This will ensure that the tutees continue to benefit from the system."
(Personal Tutor, Department of Chemical Engineering)
“She makes sure she meets her students often so she is able to build a relationship and get to know them. She makes sure she has appointments available every week if needs be.”
Aims of the first meeting
Personal Tutors from across College have suggested that the following are important aims of this initial meeting:
- Introducing students and tutor to each other. Prompts include: looking at tutees’ UCAS personal statements in advance and encouraging discussion on the basis of this information, asking tutees to share why they chose Imperial College and their first week impressions, telling students about your latest work and what you like about working at Imperial.
- Agreeing what tutorials are for.
- Establishing how to arrange meetings: where and when to meet, any office hours?
- Emphasising the importance of one-to-one meetings and explaining how confidentiality will be handled.
- Attracting attention to the student programme handbook and all the important information therein!
- Signposting resources they may need, including student support teams.
- Giving an overview of the programme design, including coursework and exams, and how it develops.
- Discussing expectations – what are students’ expectations of the programme and what are the departments’ expectations of them?
- Giving them a tour of the Department.
- Raising any urgent issues now either in the group or individually afterwards.
Particularly early on it is useful for you and your tutees to meet as a group. This is useful for cohort building and has the advantages of:
- Creating a more relaxed and less intimidating environment
- Enabling students to share common issues and realise that they are not alone in their concern
- Encouraging students to draw on their peer network to address questions and issues from their perspective
- Giving you insight into the way individuals interact
- Allowing you to efficiently communicate with and respond to the similar needs of a student group
Students and tutors value vertical tutorial meetings where 1st, 2nd and 3rd years or PG years meet together, enabling tutees to share advice across the year groups.
“They like informal get-togethers like group lunches, especially the ones with tutees from several years because they can exchange their different experiences.” (Personal Tutor, Department of Life Sciences)
It is essential to set the expectation that your tutees will meet with you regularly on a one-to-one basis and to create the opportunities for this.
Understandably it is only in a one-to-one meeting, in a private setting, that individuals feel comfortable sharing and discussing private matters that relate to progress (or lack of), assessment, health, family matters etc. Imagine having to share your GP appointment with other patients or it taking place in a busy cafe! Many students’ perception is that academics are busy people that may not be able to spare the time, so there needs to be a transparent system for booking mutually convenient appointments, whether this is initiated by the tutor or tutee.
“Brilliant Personal Tutor, he arranges meeting at times that are best for his tutees.” (Imperial student)
"You’ll need to have some private meetings, but they don’t always have to be. Meet tutees as a year-group from time to time to discuss common issues, or get Y2/Y3 and Y1 students together at some point." (Personal Tutor, Department of Life Sciences)