Tutorial system

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The tutorial system is a method of university teaching where the main focus is on regular, very small group teaching sessions). It was established and is still practised by the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. In addition to attending lectures and other classes, Oxbridge students are taught by faculty fellows in groups of one to three on a weekly basis.[1][2] These sessions are called "tutorials" at Oxford and "supervisions" at Cambridge. One benefit of the tutorial system is that students receive direct feedback on their weekly essays or work in a small discussion setting. The University of Buckingham also practices the weekly tutorial system since it was set up as England's first private university in the 1970s, though in larger groups of around 10.[3]

Student tutorials are generally more academically challenging and rigorous than standard lecture and test format courses, because during each session students are expected to orally communicate, defend, analyse, and critique the ideas of others as well as their own in conversations with the tutor and fellow students. As a pedagogic model, the tutorial system has great value because it creates learning and assessment opportunities which are highly authentic and difficult to fake.[4][not specific enough to verify]

Outside the United Kingdom, a small number of universities have a tutorial system influenced by the Oxbridge system: Omega Graduate School in Tennessee,[5] Williams College in Massachusetts,[6] Honors Tutorial College of Ohio University,[7] Sarah Lawrence College in New York, New College of Florida,[8] and the Bachelor of Arts with a major in Liberal Studies at Capilano University in North Vancouver, Canada[9]. These tutorials are often limited, either restricting them to those on an "honors program", or offering them as a single class rather than being the central feature of the university's teaching. In France, the system of Classe préparatoire aux grandes écoles has a similar system of weekly oral examinations, called khôlles, by groups of two or three.


  1. ^ "Personalised learning". University of Oxford. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  2. ^ Bonetti, Lisa (6 February 2018). "How will I be taught?". undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Tutorial and small group teaching". University of Buckingham. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  4. ^ Palfreyman, D. (2008). 'The Oxford Tutorial' (OxCHEPS) [1].
  5. ^ "Foundations". Omega Graduate School. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Tutorials". Williams College. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Hallmarks of a Tutorial Education". Honors Tutorial College. Ohio University. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Tutorials". New College of Florida. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  9. ^ "LBST 390 - Tutorial I - Capilano University". www.capilanou.ca. Retrieved 11 March 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Adamson, J. W. [Briefest of references to the Oxford Tutorial in] "Education." In From Steel and Addison to Pope and Swift. Vol. 9 of The Cambridge History of English Literature, ed. A. W. Ward and A. R. Waller, 459. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1913. This extremely short excerpt can be read through Google Books.
  • Bailey, Cyril. "The Tutorial System." Revised by J. B. Bamborough. In Handbook to the University of Oxford, 279–286(?). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965.
  • Beck, Robert J. "The Pedagogy of the Oxford Tutorial." Paper presented at the Tutorial Education: History, Pedagogy, and Evolution conference, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, 31 March – 1 April 2007. See [2].
  • Brewer, Derek. "The Tutor: A Portrait." In C. S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences, new ed., ed. James T. Como, 41–67. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, Harvest, 1992. You can actually read the whole of this section through Amazon.com's "Search inside this book" feature.
  • Highet, Gilbert. "Communication: Tutoring." In The Art of Teaching, 107–116. New York: Knopf, 1950.
  • Kiosses, Spyridon. "Teaching and Studying Ancient Greek Literature: A First Approach to a Case Study." Master's thesis, University of Oxford, 1997.
  • Mayr-Harting, Henry. "Oxford Tutorials." Paper presented at the Tutorial Education: History, Pedagogy, and Evolution conference, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, 31 March – 1 April 2007. See [3].
  • Moore, Will G. The Tutorial System and Its Future. New York: Pergamon, 1968.
  • Oxford University Education Committee. Policy Guidance on Undergraduate Learning and Teaching, University of Oxford, 2008. See [4].
  • Palfreyman, David, ed. The Oxford Tutorial: "Thanks, You Taught Me How to Think," 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, 2008. See [5].
  • Paper 6: Tutorial Teaching. Oxford: Institute for the Advancement of University Learning, n.d. See [6].
  • Ryan, Alan. "The Oxford Tutorial: History and Myth." Keynote address at the Tutorial Education: History, Pedagogy, and Evolution conference, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, 31 March – 1 April 2007. See [7].
  • Shale, S. Understanding the Learning Process: Tutorial Teaching in the Context of Research into Learning in Higher Education. Oxford: Institute for the Advancement of University of Learning, 2000.
  • "Subject Specific Remarks." Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, 2008, [8] (9 October 2009).
  • Trigwell, Keith and Ashwin, Paul. Undergraduate Students' Experience of Learning at the University of Oxford, Institute for the Advancement of University Learning, University of Oxford, 2003. See [9].
  • "Tutorials." In Academic Handbook and Code of Practice for Tutorial Fellows, Other Teaching Fellows, College Lectures, [and] Graduate Teaching Assistants. Oxford: Oriel College, 2008, 5–6. See [10].
  • Waterland, Daniel. "Advice to a Young Student, with a Method of Study for the First Four Years." In The Works of the Rev. Daniel Waterland, 3rd ed., vol. 4, 393–416. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1856. Online and in PDF at [11]. Of Waterland's Advice. . . it is said that it "is an outstanding monument to the theory and practice of tutorial instruction in early eighteenth-century Cambridge," from Victor Morgan, 1546–1750, vol. 2 of A History of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 342.
  • Williams, Gavin. "Socrates in Stellenbosch and Tutorials in Oxford." Paper presented at the Tutorial Education: History, Pedagogy, and Evolution conference, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, 31 March – 1 April 2007. See [12].