Tutorial system

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The tutorial system is a method of university education where the main teaching method is regular, very small group sessions. These are the core teaching sessions of a degree, and are supplemented by lectures, practicals and larger group classes. This system is found at the collegiate universities of Oxford and Cambridge, although other universities use this method to various degrees.

Oxbridge[edit]

The tutorial system was established in the 1800s at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.[1] It is still practised today, and consists of undergraduate students being taught by college fellows (or sometimes doctoral students and post-docs[2]) in groups of one to three on a weekly basis.[3][4] These sessions are called "tutorials" at Oxford and "supervisions" at Cambridge,[5] and are the central method of teaching at those universities.[6] The student is required to undertake preparatory work for each tutorial: for example, reading, essays or working through problems, depending on their subject.[7][8] Other teaching sessions such as lectures, practicals and language classes are offered, but these are in addition to the compulsory tutorials.[9][10][11][12]

At Oxbridge, tutorials/supervisions are the central element of the teaching, as opposed to lectures, seminars or larger group teaching.[13][14][15][16][17] During each tutorial 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. It has been argued that the tutorial system has great value as a pedagogic model because it creates learning and assessment opportunities which are highly authentic and difficult to fake.[18]

Outside Oxbridge[edit]

Other universities practise this system as well, though on a less intensive basis and one that is less central to the overall structure of the course. The University of Buckingham, England's first private university founded in the 1970s, also practises the weekly tutorial system although in larger groups of six students.[19]

Outside the United Kingdom, other universities have a tutorial system influenced by the Oxbridge system. Some examples are Omega Graduate School in Tennessee,[20] Williams College in Massachusetts,[21] Honors Tutorial College of Ohio University,[22] Sarah Lawrence College in New York, New College of Florida,[23] and the Bachelor of Arts with a major in Liberal Studies at Capilano University in North Vancouver, Canada.[24] 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. In the Netherlands, the educational approach of Maastricht University is based on student-led Tutorials in a Problem-Based-Learning setting.[25]

Some universities use the name tutorial for teaching sessions[26][27][28][29][30] or pastoral support meetings.[30][31][32] These are additional parts of a students education, rather than its core feature.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mills, David; Alexander, Patrick (March 2013). Small group teaching: a toolkit for learning. York: The Higher Education Academy.
  2. ^ Mills, David; Alexander, Patrick. "Are Oxbridge tutorials still the best way to teach students how to think?". The Conversation. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  3. ^ "Personalised learning". University of Oxford. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  4. ^ Bonetti, Lisa (6 February 2018). "How will I be taught?". undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  5. ^ Sarkar, Advait (2017). "How to define an elephant: reflections of a Cambridge supervisor" (PDF). Cambridge University Department of Computer Science and Technology. Retrieved 28 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Penny Probert Smith (2001). "7. Engineering the Tutorial Experience". In Palfreyman, David (ed.). The Oxford Tutorial: Thanks, You Taught Me How to Think (PDF). Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies. ISBN 978-1099191343. Yet in spite of the provision of lectures and practicals by the University departments, the tutorial retains a central position in the teaching of Oxford sciences.
  7. ^ Bonetti, Lisa (19 January 2021). "Teaching and learning". www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 8 June 2021. Typically, you have one or two hour-long supervisions each week (this varies from course to course) and you do preparation for each one – usually reading, writing an essay or working on some problems.
  8. ^ "College teaching and supervisions". Downing College. University of Cambridge. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  9. ^ "The Tutorial System". New College. University of Oxford. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  10. ^ Penny Probert Smith (2001). "7. Engineering the Tutorial Experience". In Palfreyman, David (ed.). The Oxford Tutorial: Thanks, You Taught Me How to Think (PDF). Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies. ISBN 978-1099191343. The importance of college teaching is reflected in the fact that it is tutorials, rather than lectures, that are compulsory. If you do not attend lectures, you will be expected to acquire the information some other way (through your own reading); if you do not attend tutorials you will be up on disciplinary charges.
  11. ^ "Undergraduate FAQs". Faculty of Law. University of Oxford. 13 August 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2021. At the heart of the Oxford undergraduate law programme is the 'tutorial system'. A tutorial is a meeting between a single law tutor and (usually) two or three students. [...] Attendance at lectures is not compulsory. But attendance at tutorials is compulsory.
  12. ^ Clark, Charles (8 July 2016). "A day in the life of a student at the University of Cambridge". Business Insider. Retrieved 8 June 2021. Supervisions are compulsory and are the primary way Cambridge students learn. They’re teaching sessions for small groups of students where a fellow leads a discussion.
  13. ^ "The Tutorial System: The Jewel in the Crown". Springer. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  14. ^ "What should students expect from their College and the University?". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  15. ^ "The Jewel in the Crown?". David Palfreyman. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  16. ^ "'Jewel in the crown?' The Oxbridge College: its origin, character and future" (PDF). Duncan Dormor. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  17. ^ "The Tutorial System: The Jewel in the Crown". Ted Tapper, David Palfreyman. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  18. ^ Palfreyman, David, ed. (2001). The Oxford Tutorial: Thanks, You Taught Me How to Think (PDF). Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies. ISBN 978-1099191343.
  19. ^ "Tutorial and small group teaching". University of Buckingham. Retrieved 25 March 2018. our weekly Oxbridge-style tutorials (of around six students)
  20. ^ "Foundations". Omega Graduate School. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  21. ^ "Tutorials". Williams College. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Hallmarks of a Tutorial Education". Honors Tutorial College. Ohio University. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Tutorials". New College of Florida. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  24. ^ "LBST 390 - Tutorial I - Capilano University". www.capilanou.ca. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Problem-Based Learning - Education - Maastricht University". www.maastrichtuniversity.nl. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  26. ^ "Teaching and learning". School of Biosciences. University of Birmingham. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  27. ^ "Guide to Tutorials". student.unsw.edu.au. UNSW Sydney. 2 May 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  28. ^ "Lectures and Tutorials". The School of Divinity, History, Philosophy & Art History. The University of Aberdeen. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  29. ^ "Language Tutorial - Foreign Language Study". St. John's College. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  30. ^ a b "Tutorials". Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Imperial College London. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  31. ^ "Tutorials". The University of Nottingham. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  32. ^ "Personal Tutorials". Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering. The University of Sheffield. 12 September 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  33. ^ "Personalised learning". University of Oxford. Retrieved 8 June 2021. Oxford's core teaching is based around conversations, normally between two or three students and their tutor, who is an expert on that topic. We call these tutorials, and it's your chance to talk in-depth about your subject and to receive individual feedback on your work. As well as tutorials, depending on your course you will also have a combination of seminars, lectures, lab work and language classes each week. Together, these opportunities provide the perfect environment for an outstanding education.

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 [1].
  • 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 [2].
  • 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 [3].
  • Palfreyman, David, ed. The Oxford Tutorial: "Thanks, You Taught Me How to Think," 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, 2001. See [4].
  • Paper 6: Tutorial Teaching. Oxford: Institute for the Advancement of University Learning, n.d. See [5].
  • 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 [6].
  • 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, [7] (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 [8].
  • "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 [9].
  • 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 [10]. 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 [11].