Overview and Key Terms
Why the Tutorial Method is Critical to Apprenticeships
The Tutorial Method is a deep learning methodology that develops inquiry and real-world problem solving through small group conversations where an instructor facilitates question-based discussion with learners. The Tutorial Method teaches learners how to think and not what to think.
In the world of teaching and teacher training, apprenticeship-based learning elevates teaching as a profession, refines professional practice, prepares candidates for work in the school environment, elevates candidates’ existing capabilities, and attracts more diverse candidates. It allows the apprentice to observe teaching on a day-to-day basis and be part of a school community while learning their trade. They are also practicing, receiving feedback, and reflecting in an integrated way.
Apprenticeship-based learning with the Tutorial Method fosters innovation, offers opportunities to unearth and resolve issues quickly and effectively, and allows for collaboration and the free exchange of ideas.
The Tutorial Method is pivotal to apprenticeships because it enables apprentices to develop critical thinking skills that connect what they are doing in the field with the why behind it. The Tutorial Method situates vocational skills in a wider world context and empowers apprentices to assemble and interrogate evidence to provide solutions independently. This process enables apprentices to thrive in the workplace and preempts challenges with more forward-thinking.
What We’ve Learned about the Tutorial Method
The Tutorial Method develops:
Critical thinking skills
Public speaking skills, including speaking clearly and confidently
Motivation to study
Research skills, including note-taking, reading to infer and retrieve, forming an argument, and writing for different purposes and audiences
Intercultural communication and awareness
Social Emotional Learning, including self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness
Teaching using the Tutorial Method requires:
A deep understanding and application of the Tutorial Method
Buy-in from key stakeholders in your institution, including your top-level administrators, instructors, your learners, and their families
Time to learn about it, to understand it, to administer it
A paradigm shift from teaching to assess to teaching to learn
Teaching using the tutorial method does not require an Oxford professor, special physical spaces to deliver it, more money, additional budget, nor does it require you to be from a specific socioeconomic background.
The following terms will be useful to understand as you read this playbook:
Facilitate: A tutor guides the discussion, creating a balance between incorporating learners’ contributions yet moving purposefully towards a specific point.
Mobilize: Make use of.
Contribution: What a student says during a tutorial – their opinion, questions, etc.
Engage/call on students: Ask a student a question or ask a student to comment by name.
Economy of language: Being concise and to the point when communicating.
Growth/fixed mindset: A growth mindset entails aspects such as not being afraid of failure, a willingness to try challenging tasks, not giving up, focusing on improvement, and having a collaborative as opposed to a competitive relationship with peers. The opposite of this concept is a fixed mindset.
Read around (subject): Using a wide variety of sources and going beyond the syllabus to deepen understanding and learning.
Personalized learning: Learning that is designed according to learners’ individual needs.
Independent work: The work that learners do before a tutorial to inform the learning that will take place.
Problem sheet: This is one of the kinds of independent work for a tutorial. Learners have to solve difficult problems, paying attention to the process. (This is common with science subjects, in particular.)
Evidence(-based): Contributing to the tutorial and voicing one’s opinion using research or facts from independent reading.
Research: Doing independent reading to find evidence to contribute to the tutorial discussion.
Talk-led or dialogue-based Learning: Learning that focuses on talking and discussion as the main way that learners encounter and process information/knowledge.
Critical Thinking: A method of encountering and processing information by assembling and interrogating evidence from several sources to find connections and respond to a question, problem or issue.
The Tutorial Method in Action
Below are examples of the tutorial method in action in different contexts.