The impact of personal tutoring on students

Groves, Winnifred and Burden, Penny (2017) The impact of personal tutoring on students. In: UKAT Annual Conference : Advising and Personal Tutoring for Success, Attainment and Retention; 05-06 April, Leeds, U.K.. (Unpublished)


The UK government’s agenda of widening participation together with societal changes have, to some extent, resulted in an increase in the numbers of students from “non-traditional” backgrounds. This is reflected in the diverse student population (Black Minority Ethnic (BME), mature, disabilities, LGBT and different socio-economic backgrounds) at Kingston University, London (KUL). By implication, this necessitates ongoing recognition and support to address inclusivity, pedagogic enhancements around differentiation, lack of confidence, and feelings of lack of belonging. Ultimately, these challenges have repercussions in what and how KUL provide support to students and staff to achieve institutional goals such as narrowing the BME attainment gap. The Personal Tutor Scheme (PTS) is an approach used to promote student engagement and academic performance. The PTS is a key feature of Kingston University’s Academic Framework with the aim to build rapport with students and personalise student experience. Further aims include; to provide academic advice and guidance; monitor student’s progress; advice and refer to university services; develop student’s ability to be self-reliant; self-reflective and ability to use feedback effectively. These are in keeping with Kingston University’s Graduate Attributes which requires KUL graduates to be professional, proactive, thoughtful, creative, resilient and globally aware. The purpose of this study was to explore staff and student experiences of the PTS at Kingston University, London focusing on impact on students. It uses a qualitative descriptive approach and a convenient purposeful sampling strategy involving participants from across five faculties. To explore interviewee responses, a series of semi-structured interviews (audio and video recorded) were conducted with 11 personal tutors and six students. The findings indicate that when implemented effectively, the PTS made a substantial positive impact to students’ university experience. Reported benefits for students included: development in confidence, promotion of student voice and engagement, a growing sense of belonging, as well as an increase in student retention, improved academic performance and employability. The PTS serves as a strategy to personalise student support and promote inclusivity.

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