Dissonant discourses: Constructing a consistent personal tutoring experience across the whole university

Liz Thomas, Elaine Brown

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In our case study we are examining how one institution sought to develop a whole institution approach to personal tutoring to create a more consistent experience for students. The approach adopted was informed by a review of the literature and research within the institution, and broadly aimed to create a more proactive personal development programme, and so coaching training for all personal development tutors was arranged. Many of the staff who participated in the training felt disgruntled by the blanket approach. Some felt that their skills as tutors were unrecognized and they would have benefitted from higher level training, while others felt they did not need training for a role that is straight forward and unchallenging. These views reduced staff buy-in to the institutional model of personal development tutoring and made implementation more difficult.
Through reflection on the experience we realized that the role of a personal (development) tutor within our university – and we suspect many others - is open to interpretation and full of contradictions, and that until these differences and tensions are surfaced and a united discourse is adopted it is impossible to take a whole institution approach. Through our reflection we identified multiple contradictory discourses or beliefs about personal tutoring. Our case study however will explore two competing or dissonant discourses relating to the role of tutor in relation to students, and the attributes of an effective tutor.
1) The role of a personal tutor- support v success: Support for students in need, or the development of success for all students.
2) The attributes of an effective tutor - expert v generalist: Tutors are experts and require specialist skills, or all academic staff can be tutors as it is a generalist role
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Higher Education Personal Tutor's and Advisor's Companion
Subtitle of host publicationTranslating theory into practice to improve student success
EditorsDave Lochtie, Andrew Stork, Ben W Walker
PublisherCritical Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781913453459
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

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