November 24, 2009, by Teaching at Nottingham

Valuing the student voice: the tutorless tutorial

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David Clarke: “I’m particularly mindful of the difficulty of getting everybody to participate in a way they’re comfortable with, and getting them to believe that we genuinely want to hear the student’s voice. I think the difficulty for so many students, and it’s not a peculiarity of international students, is they either don’t understand or don’t believe when the tutor says, you know, this is about you, it’s not about me, we’re not here just to listen to me rabbitting on for an hour.

“I like to come up with off the wall ideas if I can, it makes life more interesting. This one is to have a leaderless tutorial in which I don’t take any part at all except to watch and listen and make notes. So again, I tell them the week before that this is going to happen, and they know what the process is going to be and they probably know what the issue is going to be, and then for about twenty minutes in the tutorial session, they have their discussion amongst themselves, it’s their responsibility how they organise it, what they cover, whether one of them chairs it or nobody chairs it.

“And then, at the end, I give them feedback both on the content of their discussion and again on the process, on participation, evenness of contribution, whether everybody’s being treated respectfully in their opinions and so on and so on. And what I really like about that approach is not that it produces anything wonderful in the course of that one session, but that they go away, I think, with a really clear idea that the tutorial is for them, to speak to, to contribute to, to put in ideas, I don’t think there’s any more convincing way of getting across the idea that it’s not about everything the tutor has to say, than having a tutorial in which the tutor says absolutely nothing at all.”

David Clarke
School of Psychology

Extracts from interviews with staff and students about experiences of internationalisation. This video was originally published as part of PESL’s Learning from internationalisation collection. Produced November 2009.

Posted in Academic tutorialsInternationalisationSmall groups