The personal tutor–student relationship: student expectations and experiences of personal tutoring in higher education.

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Abstract

The personal tutor plays a key role in the student experience at university and embodies the student relationship with the university, suggesting that it has the potential to provide insights beyond that specific relationship to the institution and higher education context. A focus session with first year undergraduate students explored expectations and experiences of personal tutoring from the student perspective. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to explore students’ lived experiences, and identified superordinate themes of expectations, experiences and relationships, with cluster themes including independence and authenticity. Developing a positive and genuine relationship with the personal tutor was found to ‘buffer’ against some of the first year challenges and contribute towards a sense of belonging. Importantly, this study provides evidence that experiencing poor personal tutoring is worse than not having a personal tutor at all, as this can lead to students experiencing strong negative emotions and re-evaluating their decision to go to university. Implications of these findings in the current higher education context of fee-paying students and competing institutional demands are discussed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Early online date26 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sep 2017

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Keywords

  • Personal tutoring
  •  higher education
  •  student expectations
  •  student fees

Cite this

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title = "The personal tutor–student relationship: student expectations and experiences of personal tutoring in higher education.",
abstract = "The personal tutor plays a key role in the student experience at university and embodies the student relationship with the university, suggesting that it has the potential to provide insights beyond that specific relationship to the institution and higher education context. A focus session with first year undergraduate students explored expectations and experiences of personal tutoring from the student perspective. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to explore students’ lived experiences, and identified superordinate themes of expectations, experiences and relationships, with cluster themes including independence and authenticity. Developing a positive and genuine relationship with the personal tutor was found to ‘buffer’ against some of the first year challenges and contribute towards a sense of belonging. Importantly, this study provides evidence that experiencing poor personal tutoring is worse than not having a personal tutor at all, as this can lead to students experiencing strong negative emotions and re-evaluating their decision to go to university. Implications of these findings in the current higher education context of fee-paying students and competing institutional demands are discussed",
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