The University of Sunderland has done a lot of work over the past few years to standardise and professionalise our personal tutoring provision and align it with UKAT, the United Kingdom Advising and Tutoring association. It was from this that the Studiosity project began, and when our Pro VC for Learning and Teaching put out a call towards the end of last year for us to attend and present at this year’s conference en masse, I submitted a proposal for my Studiosity pilot year presentation – now in what I hope is its final form, including impact on attainment and progression for the pilot cohort.
Conference sessions I was able to attend as a participant were:
- UKAT Curriculum Taster Session, by Karen Kenny of the University of Exeter which allowed me to complete an introductory module.
- Empowering Under-Represented Voices, by Rachael O’Connor from the University of Leeds which included a discussion on how tutors can reach and support those students.
- Considerations Around Academic Misconduct, by Luke Jefferies from the University of East Anglia – a really good session that deconstructed notions of ‘cheating’ and discussed some of the unspoken and unacknowledged factors which feed into academic misconduct. I had not considered, for example, that in some cultures it is a sign of respect to directly quote others, rather than being taken as plagiarism as it is in UK HE.
- Lighting Talks on the significance of graduate attributes, an evaluation of the impact of mindset interventions, and the impact of specialist academic tutors from my colleagues at our London Campus.
- Technology in Advising SIG, by Pete Fitch of UCL who led a discussion on what technologies we are using to support tutoring, including learning management systems, ePortfolios, and bespoke timetabling and appointment booking systems.
- Understanding Student Finances, by Charmaine Valente from the Student Loans Company who talked about the current loans system in England and Wales which is helpful for PATs to know about to be able to inform students.
- Academic Coaching at the University of Wolverhampton, by James Jennings who talked about the dedicated academic coaches they are employing at Wolverhampton to provide dedicated support and pastoral care for students.
- Critical Thinking and Tutoring, by George Steele of Ohio State University which was an interesting session to see some of the differences in perspective in the US system, such as students choosing an institution first without knowing what they want to major in. Part of the role of tutors there is to guide students and help them make that decision.
- Active Listening for Effective Personal Tutoring, by Angela Newton from the University of Leeds who led an interactive session exploring and evaluating our listening skills.
Attached photos are from the opening keynote speech, George Steele from Ohio State talking about reflective thought, and examples of the Welsh language not trying very hard (I feel like I can get away with this joke by being Scottish).