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Cultivating student led tutorials in STEM

Project leader(s): 
Melanie Gregg and Vivien Cleary
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current

Introduction

The purpose of a tutorial is to put learning into practice and cultivate a sense of community within the tutor group.  However, often tutorials regress into didactic lectures with little student input.  Lack of confidence and preparation are often key reasons behind the lack of participation.  I am reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s quote ‘Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.’

To resolve this, it is important to create a place where the tutor promotes interest and hones skills rather than lectures:  to turn the tables so that the tutorials become student led, and in so doing nurture independent, confident learners.  

Approach

As a STEM tutor, I have observed during breakout activities that students were more content to join discussions due to the small group size and the absence of the tutor. The students also prefer to present findings as a group rather than as individuals.

This study proposes to modify the design of some SDK100 science tutorials, which are run within the existing Tutor Group (TG) tutorials. A 15-minute breakout room activity at the end of the planned tutorials will be used to let students work their way through a skill orientated task relating to the upcoming TMA. A short plenary session with the tutor at the end will be used to collect ideas or questions from the discussion. This session would be recorded so that absent students do not miss out on the learning experience.

Anticipated Outcomes

To increase student participation and create an environment where they can develop a growth mindset can be developed. It is anticipated the skill will be developed over the duration of the course. 

Impact

By cultivating this approach early in the student learning pathway we would reinforce the fact that understanding rather than learning is the most successful strategy for education. If breakout room tools are understood by staff, they allow the tutor to be more of a facilitator rather than a deliverer of information. This would lead to higher attainment, more satisfied students, and better student retention. The strategy could impact student engagement and performance across multiple faculties in the evolving blended learning environment. 

Melanie Gregg and Vivien Cleary poster (PPT)

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