|Title||Small Group Tutorials|
|Originator||Brian Paul Hindle|
|Department||Department of Geography, University of Salford, M5 4WT|
Maintaining (or introducing) small group tutorials may seem impossible in an era of mass higher education, but it can be done. The aims are to establish close personal and academic links between staff and students right from the start of the course, and to undertake work directly relevant to the modules which students are studying.
The ideal tutorial size is three or four students, and tutorials are held fortnightly, giving six tutorials per semester. Most staff members have two groups [typical Salford figures are: 96 students, in 24 groups of 4, taken by 12 staff].
Staff who are teaching core modules set assignments (including essays and practicals) to be done each fortnight. Written work is expected to be word-processed within a month, re-inforcing IT practical sessions given elsewhere in the course. Tutors receive cribs from the staff setting the assignments.
Attendance is compulsory; absence without good cause receives a zero mark, even if the written work is submitted, as the tutorial discussion itself is seen as a vital part of the process. The tutorials are both teaching/learning and assessment, and the marks (for both written work and the tutorial discussion) count as a 20 credit module across 2 semesters.
Students appreciate the personal attention, and get to know a member of staff from Week 1; in academic terms, they have to do the work, as they cannot hide as they might in a larger group. From the staff point of view, better and deeper discussions are the norm, though some staff may take the same topic up to four times.
Tutorials run until half way through Year 2, after which they are replaced by small-group Project work, and then by dissertation preparation (both using staff as consultants).