Train the Tutors, or Reinvent the Tutorial? A Critical Action Research Framework Examining a Tutor Review Process
This paper focuses on a particular teaching and learning initiative, a tutor review process, as a way of enhancing the tutorial (small group) learning experience. The initial intention had been to focus on the tutors’ skills as small group facilitators to improve the tutorial experience and environment. The action research methodology altered the intended process in so far as changing the focus from a sometime fairly technical or ‘interpretive’ understanding to a ‘critical’ approach. Instead of simply focusing on tutors’ facilitation skills, there was a shift to include a consciousness and engagement of a variety of underlying issues in the tutorial that could potentially impact on the learning process. The context of the review process is the Academic Development (AD) Programme (Education Development Unit, University of Cape Town, South Africa). The programme is an equity programme focused on attracting students who have experienced gaps in their education and life experiences. The focus is on providing a variety of support and adding value, enhancing a broad and comprehensive range of academic experiences and a variety of skills. The tutorial system is an integral part of AD and is designed to give a small group learning experience to students who attend lectures with several hundred students.
Keywords: Academic Development, Tutor Review, Critical Action Research
Associate Professor June Pym
Director, Education Development Unit (Commerce), University of Cape Town
Lecturer, Academic Development Financial Accounting