An Investigation into Personal Tutoring: Staff Perceptions

Barton, Dionne (2023). An Investigation into Personal Tutoring: Staff Perceptions. EdD thesis The Open University.



Due to the changing landscape of Higher Education (HE), increased tuition fees, widening participation and a new regulatory framework for the sector – the Office for Students (OfS), and the launch of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) - Personal Tutoring has become increasingly important in HE in the United Kingdom (UK). It is fundamental to the student experience (Lochtie, McIntosh, Stork and Walker, 2018). Indeed, Personal Tutoring has been identified as an effective way to improve student success in HE (Thomas, 2018). It aims to improve the student experience and to improve retention and progression.

This study explores the perceptions of Personal Academic Tutors at a traditional Russell Group university, in engineering as a discipline. The review of literature focuses on the history of Personal Tutoring, the role of the Personal Tutor, models of Personal Tutoring, professional development for Personal Tutors, and reward and recognition for the role. In addition, these areas are explored through the research questions. For the purpose of this study, Personal Tutoring is broadly defined as activities where staff work in partnership with students to provide support, advice and guidance.

The overall research frame is a case study and the ontological approach for the interviews is phenomenology, this research design was selected to find out the lived experiences and perceptions of Personal Tutors. For the phenomenological study, interviews were conducted with six Personal Tutors. I chose interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) as the methodological approach. Other sources of data were collected as part of the case study approach.

The findings suggest that there is a need for Personal Tutors to have an understanding of the Personal Tutor role as well as the information required to do the role and professional development and training. In addition, the findings demonstrate that Personal Tutors want to be rewarded and receive recognition for the role. My research concludes with recommendations that make an original contribution to the theory, knowledge, and practice of Personal Tutoring. I recommend a model which suggests how HE institutions could better support Personal Tutors in HE.

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