Personal Academic Tutor meetings for first year undergraduates

Personal Academic Tutor meetings for first year undergraduates

The following sections give an indication of what might be covered in meetings in the first year of a typical three year degree programme.  The first year is the most crucial in terms of supporting students making the transition into being a member of the University so it is important these meetings are well-thought out and purposeful.  The timings of the meetings are indicative and built around the academic year but institutes and programme teams may make their own arrangements to best fit their own structures.  There are exercises, self-audit tools, questionnaires and materials available to support many of the activities suggested here and further guidance is available from the Educational Development Unit.

Preparing for the first meeting
It is often helpful for the student to have done some preparatory work for the first Personal  Academic Tutor meeting and for the Personal Academic Tutor to have had chance to look at this.  An example of this might be a brief pre-entry or Welcome Week questionnaire about the student’s expectations of the subject and study in HE and their confidence about their readiness for these. 

The first meeting
This should take place during Welcome Week or, at the latest by week three of the new academic year.  It is part of the induction process and could be timetabled into Welcome Week or a core module.  There are arguments for this being either a group or an individual meeting, either to build peer relationships or establish an individual link with a tutor.  The meeting needs to address both academic and practical issues about transition into HE and becoming part of the University community.  It might include the following

  • Introduce yourselves and say a little bit about your backgrounds and goals: what brings you here?
  • Transition: what does the student expect will be different about study at University?
  • Expectations: what is the student looking forward to or concerned about in terms of studying the discipline in HE?
  • Belonging to the community: how are you settling in with the programme of study and with peers?
  • Check on practicalities: are the student’s timetable, accommodation and access to SOLE pages all OK?
  • Sources of support:  does the student know where to go for help for the Course, Registry, ILS and Student Services?
  • Ground rules about Personal Academic Tutoring: discuss roles, the plan of future formal meetings, recording of meetings, how you each prefer to be contacted, booking additional tutorials, use of email and realistic expectations about the speed of response.