Quality Matters: An In-depth Exploration of the Personal Tutor-Student Relationship in Higher Education from the Student Perspective

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Abstract

In an increasingly marketised UK higher education (HE) context, research on personal tutoring is crucial given its potential to positively influence both student outcomes and institutional measures of success. For example, students who experience poor personal tutor (PT) experiences may question the value of their degree in more economic terms and consider leaving university. Investigating the quality and nature of the student–PT relationship is therefore of great importance to anyone working in HE. Specifically the current research explores six first-year students’ experiences of their PTs, through detailed interpretative phenomenological analysis of interview data. First, the analysis revealed a number of antecedents to the student–PT relationship that impact on students’ expectations and experiences of their PT. Second, the findings revealed insights into how the relationship develops and the importance of the first interaction. Third, the analysis elucidated the nature and quality of student–PT interactions and how these have consequences for the students’ overall PT experience. The implications for HE and the potential impact on PT practice and provision are discussed. Notably, this research highlights the need for institutions to consider the implicit and often mixed messages conveyed within student support mechanisms regarding notions of independence.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Early online date8 Apr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2019

Keywords

  • higher education (HE)
  • students
  • personal tutor
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA)
  • student expectations
  • student experience

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