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Role of the Academic Tutor

Academic Tutors act as a key contact for their tutees within their School / Department, establishing proactive, effective and long-lasting relationships that promote positive engagement within the academic community. Academic Tutors play a crucial role in upholding and embedding the principles of the Academic Tutor System, working in partnership with their tutees to support their academic, personal and professional development through proactive relationships and structured academic conversations informed by student data (e.g. RISIS Tutor Card) and by signposting students to specialist central services for ongoing pastoral support as appropriate. This approach allows Academic Tutors to focus on their area of expertise, helping students to achieve academic success and develop the essential graduate attributes for employment/further study.

Download "The Academic Tutor System - A guide for tutors" (PDF - 4.2mb)

At appropriate points in the student journey, Academic Tutors are responsible for providing support across the following themes:

  • Academic support and study skills: Academic Tutors assist students to reflect on their academic progress to date, including working with students to identify their strengths and weaknesses in relation to academic study skills and encouraging students to make plans and/or take up opportunities to develop these (e.g. Study Advice, Liaison Librarians, Maths Support, English Language Support, etc.). Academic Tutors also help students to make decisions in relation to their course and to connect with other academics in their field of study.
  • Assessment & feedback: Academic Tutors support students to review and reflect holistically on feedback they have received on assessed work, developing their ability to build on knowledge and progress successfully. Academic Tutors work with students to identify consistent patterns in feedback (e.g. poor referencing/structure, insecure research base, etc.) and discuss the steps they can take to improve their performance in future assessments.
  • Careers & employability: Academic Tutors discuss student' career ambitions and employability goals. Encouraging students to work towards establishing and realising those goals whilst at Reading, including: signposting relevant opportunities (e.g. gaining work experience, careers training participation, study abroad, student societies, volunteering, etc.); helping students to identify and overcome barriers through tutor referral to specialist Careers support; and reflecting on progress made to maintain motivation and build resilience. When requested, Academic Tutors write references for students.
  • Engaging beyond the programme: Academic Tutors raise awareness of extra-curricular opportunities to encourage students to engage beyond their programme to develop transferable skills, build social networks and contribute to the development of the University (e.g. Course/School Representatives, discipline societies, STaR Mentoring, sports clubs/societies, etc.).
  • Specialist support services: Academic Tutors establish proactive and effective relationships with their tutees that help to identify student support needs and refer students to specialist support services as appropriate.

Academic Tutors are expected to:

  • Invite students to meet at least once a term (twice in Autumn term for Part 1), and arrange the meetings.
  • Help students reflect on their academic progress and personal and professional development - discuss work, feedback & marks (using submodular mark screens on RISIS), attendance, careers etc.
  • Actively encourage engagement of all your tutees.
  • Get to know them as individuals to enable you to write references.

Working in partnership with students

Students are active partners in their learning and development at the University of Reading. Students work in partnership with their tutor to support their academic, personal and professional development The Student Charter provides a helpful summary of the expectations staff have of students at Reading. The list below captures those most relevant to academic tutoring. The University expects students to:

  • Work hard at their studies and to be active partners in shaping their experience of Higher Education.
  • Seek out opportunities to enhance their understanding and to develop practical and intellectual skill.
  • Take advantage of the wealth of activities (social and developmental) provided by the University and Reading University Students' Union (RUSU).
  • Be pro-active in managing their learning and in seeking help when needed. Keep appointments and to communicate with staff in a timely and courteous manner.

Academic Tutors are not responsible for:

  • Resolving administrative problems relating to a students
  • studies (e.g. timetabling, submission issues, etc.), but should direct students to the appropriate place for further guidance (e.g. Student Support Coordinator).
  • Providing counselling or specialist advice, but should refer students to the appropriate specialist support service on campus (e.g. finance, VISA, counselling etc.).
  • Replacing subject-specific academic staff in providing specialist academic guidance on all aspects of the student's programme of study, but should advise on how to get guidance, including connecting students to other academics in their field of study.

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