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Guidelines for small group tutors

Staff handbook: Guidelines for

Under the small-group tutorial scheme, students see their tutors in groups of about six to discuss the Part A modules in Calculus and Linear Algebra. The main educational purpose of the scheme is to help our students to LEARN MATHEMATICS. Wise investment of our time and effort in the early part of a student's time here will pay dividends in the future.

The small-group tutorial scheme has the following features.

  • We can closely monitor the academic progress of our students.

  • Students can receive almost instantaneous feedback on their performance through receiving written comments and corrections to their work.

  • We can ensure that students develop good working habits from day one. This especially includes the notorious inability of students to write coherent mathematical arguments. (In the past they have often had to attempt do this for the first time in an examination.)

  • Students get to see their personal tutor regularly and thereby hopefully a good rapport is developed. This will serve as a good foundation for future years when contact may be less frequent.

  • Tutors can give feedback to lecturers concerning the reception of their material.

  • Coursework marking burdens are shared amongst staff.

The tutorial scheme covers modules taught in the traditional lecture format. Lectures are then accompanied by exercise sheets. We must encourage students to attempt all of these exercise sheets. We must also check that our students make for themselves good notes from lectures. Some tutorial time should be devoted to going over material covered in lectures.

Tutorial styles will vary, but you should consider adopting at least some of the following practices. A very important part of a small-group tutorial should be to actively involve the students.

  • Ask students to hand in some work regularly (in some weeks this will be the coursework set by the module lecturer). Emphasise that it is in a student's own interests to hand in work as the feedback will help improve their assessed work.

  • Ask students to prepare the solution to a particular problem in advance, and then to go to the the board or OHP and present and explain the solution to the whole group. Any initial shyness is usually overcome within a few weeks. We are obliged to develop communication skills in our students and this can clearly assist here, but more importantly students learn by attempting to teach others.

  • Ask students to prepare a short presentation on a particular topic from their lectures. This will both reinforce the material and develop communication skills.

  • Think about getting students to run the session with you acting as facilitator

It is essential to do the following:

  • Mark scripts as soon as possible and certainly before you next see your tutees. Ideally coursework should be returned to students in the week following the submission deadline.

  • Monitor the attendance at your tutorials and email students who fail to attend regularly. If a student misses more than two consecutive tutorials inform Angela Watson who will also email the students concerned. Angela should be informed if the student continues not to attend so that a formal letter can be sent to the student.

  • After the semester 1 exams, see your tutees individually to discuss their exam performance.

  • Be a good personal tutor!

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