The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
Following the introduction of the Group Tuition Policy (GTP) in 2016, Associate Lecturers (ALs) were given the opportunity in 2017 to feed back into a review of the newly created module tuition strategies. In the STEM Faculty a Toolkit was provided to support the review.
This project examined how the review feedback was collected and acted upon for undergraduate modules within the school of Computing and Communications, with a view to develop a structured process that could be piloted within the school before disseminating recommendations more widely.
ALs have expertise in tuition as working most closely with the students they are informed about what works well for students. The intended impact of this project was the development of a process for harnessing AL expertise in the design and review of module tuition strategies.
For the review, feedback was collected through synchronous meetings, forum discussions and emails.
This project gathered evidence of the feedback from meeting recordings and forum posts. The 2016 and the 2017 tuition strategies were compared to see what changes had been made as a result of the review.
Although the intention of the review had been to collect feedback about the tuition strategy designs, much of the feedback was about how the strategies had been implemented and some feedback was about other aspects of the AL role. The resulting changes to the tuition strategies varied from module to module. Not all changes were a result of the AL feedback. Module teams and staff tutors continue to develop their own views in the light of experience about how best to design tuition strategies. Some changes appear to have been influenced by what other module teams were doing.
If under GTP we continue to review module tuition strategies, it is important to allow strategies to stabilise and the tutors to develop their practice, and not to have a review with every presentation.
It is recommended that a review should be started on the module tutor forum, with ALs alerted by email. Then a synchronous f2f or online meeting should be held, followed up with further forum discussion.
As expertise develops and evidence of effectiveness of decisions is collected, this should be disseminated across and beyond the school so that future decisions can be based upon the expertise and evidence. We should learn from our ALs because they know how to deliver supported open learning at a distance to an exceptionally high standard.
The emphasis should be on increasing flexibility within the tuition strategies, to enable ALs to develop and work within a community of shared professional practice, to share expertise between themselves, to trial new ideas and to adapt to the needs of their students.
At the same time as reviewing the tuition strategy, staff tutors and ALs should have the opportunity to review how the strategy is implemented. Tuition strategies should be written in such a way that they allow ALs to use their professional expertise in providing dynamic and innovative tuition for the benefit of our students.