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Group tutorials as spaces for educationally purposeful peer interactions – Why and how?

Group tutorials as spaces for educationally purposeful peer interactions – Why and how?

George, Rachel and Rapley, Eve ORCID: 0000-0002-7672-6129 (2021) Group tutorials as spaces for educationally purposeful peer interactions – Why and how? In: UKAT Annual Conference 2021, 30th March - 1st April 2021, online.

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Kuh (2020) coined the phrase Educationally Purposeful Peer Interactions, positing how the impact and influence of peer learning in H.E “is often overlooked.” At University of Greenwich we position group tutorials as playing a central role in harnessing the power of the peer group and the unique learning potential it offers. Through CPD we support tutors to set up meaningful, educative group tutorials with tutees playing a prominent role in their design and delivery. In this talk, we will outline how we approach this.

Typically, personal tutoring can tend towards a focus on individual development through a tutor: tutee dyad. As experienced personal tutors who use group tutorials, we were struck by tutor feedback suggesting group tutorials were not routinely used, or, if they were, operated more as tutor-led teaching/advice sessions. This appeared amplified with the COVID-19 shift to online learning, whereby tutors tended to be the conduit for communication, with tutees occupying a more passive role in an online space.

Our starting point is believing that tutees “learn more when they work together than when they work alone” (Kyndt et al., 2013 p.134). Our own experience indicated how peers can help each other to help themselves through crowdsourcing solutions and providing mutual support. Our personal tutoring CPD recognises tutees as the “more knowledgeable other” as espoused by Vygotsky (Cole et al., 1978). We encourage tutors to capitalise on the unique learning dimension that peer interactions creates.

We support tutors to create supportive co-owned spaces, in which tutees are actively “doing” rather than being “done to”. We advocate group tutorials that provide opportunities for tutees to develop essential communication and intellectual skills, aid their development as future professionals and support their journey towards independence and self-regulation (Carless and Boud, 2018). Part of this includes using an activity-based model to facilitate peer discussion and learning. Using group tutorials as spaces in which to practise the language of the discipline and to give and receive feedback provides tutees with opportunities to “rehearse” their ideas in a smaller group (Tanner, 2009) and to learn from conversational engagement with peers (Laurillard, 1999).

As well as peer-to-peer learning, we also advocate the use of near-peers (Rashid et al., 2011). Students on higher years are well placed to offer “student friendly” insights into likely challenges and enthuse and motivate students who are following in their footsteps. Within these interactions, both parties can benefit from opportunities to make explicit aspects of the “hidden curriculum” (Hubbard et al, 2020).

Key takeaways will stress the value of group tutorials and provide inspiration and ideas for personal tutors to harness the power of the peer group to provide educationally purposeful interactions and learning for their tutees within a wider personal tutoring programme.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Lecture)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Personal tutoring; Group tutorials; Educationally Purposeful Activities (EPAs); Online personal tutoring; Near peers
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Educational Development Unit
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2021 12:46

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