Making the most of your tutor

Your tutor will be the person most closely involved with your work on your course, guiding your studies and giving you feedback. Your tutor will be an experienced teacher who knows your course and subject extremely well and who has helped many other students succeed. We’ll look at how you can make the most of the support your tutor can offer you.

What support can your tutor give you?

It is important to be clear about the kind of support your tutor can give you. Read the next case study for some ideas before you do the activity which follows.

Case study:
Kevin is 19. He talks about the support he received from his tutor when he was working on his A levels in Geography and Economics. ‘Working on my own has meant that I’ve really relied on my tutor for support and motivation. When I first enrolled for my A levels she contacted me by email to introduce herself and she sent me a few background details about herself, just so I could picture her better. She has actually written an economics textbook and I was a bit daunted at first about sending her anything. But she is really good at giving me helpful comments without talking down to me. She’s not afraid to point out something that I have got wrong but she does it in a constructive way, showing me how I can get it right next time. When I do something well, she always says so and also explains to me why she thought it was good so that I can try that again. It’s no good getting a good mark if you don’t understand why.’

Think about the kinds of support you might want from your tutor in the next activity.

What support do you think you might need from your tutor?

Tick the boxes in the list below to help you decide on the types of support you need.

1 ☐ Encourage you to get going
2 ☐ Help motivate you to keep going
3 ☐ Comment on your assignments and other coursework
4 ☐ Help you organise your time
5 ☐ Help you make the most of your strengths
6 ☐ Recommend useful books and guide your choice of reading
7 ☐ Recommend useful websites
8 ☐ Suggest ways in which you can improve your work
9 ☐ Advise you on how to tackle your next assignment
10 ☐ Provide references for university or college applications

Tutors can provide all these different kinds of support. Identifying the kinds of support you will need from your tutor will help you develop a more useful relationship with him or her, because you will know what you want and your tutor will be able to focus on your needs.

Don’t be afraid to ask your tutor for help. Tutors want to help you make the most of your studies, so feel free to:

  • keep notes while you are working so that you have a list of queries for them next time you contact them – you can ask them questions about any aspect of your study
  • contact them if you don’t understand their feedback or comments on your work
  • contact them if you have a query, even if you haven’t completed an assignment or piece of coursework. However, you need to be realistic about how much support you can expect. Tutors are paid to support you but not 24 hours a day! If you are contacting them too much they will let you know politely. When you enrol for your course you will be told how much support you can expect from your tutor.

When you receive feedback or comments from your tutor, you can make the most of it by:

  • reading back over your work alongside the comments
  • reading the comments again before you start your next assignment or piece of coursework making notes of common mistakes in a separate notebook so that you can avoid repeating the same mistakes.

This is an excerpt from ‘How to Succeed as an independent learner’ a resource available free to all NEC students. As well as making the most of your tutor, it covers topics such as developing your memory, concentration, managing stress and using action plans.

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