Practical Elements of the Tutorial Method
Preparing for a tutorial involves setting independent work, reviewing independent work, and planning questions. When observing a tutorial, one will see group/circular seating, note-taking, questioning, eye contact, and active participation. Tutorials should feel engaging, safe, challenging, curious, and familiar.
Preparing for a Tutorial
Time must be set aside for tutorial instruction and preparation. The following steps assist with planning a tutorial:
Setting Independent Work: Set an assignment that links to a broader sequence of curricular learning and provides intellectual challenge. For Humanities and Social Sciences subjects, this can take the form of a response task to an open-ended question. For Science subjects, this can take the form of a series of problems to solve.
Reviewing Independent Work: Plan the learning aims and outcomes of the tutorial by reviewing learners' independent work in advance. The review should focus on gauging how well learners have understood key content and mastered key skills.
Planning Questions: Use the aims and outcomes of the tutorial, the key themes of the independent work question assigned and any patterns from learners' responses to plan a range of questions. They should focus on checking understanding, deepening subject knowledge and addressing any misconceptions.
See the mind map below as a resource for planning.
What a Tutorial Looks Like
When observing a tutorial, one will see the following:
Group, circular seating (if in-person): The tutorial facilitator and the learners sit in a group to facilitate mutual dialogue. This can also be achieved via breakout rooms on Zoom.
Note-taking: Learners are taking notes while participating in the tutorial.
Questioning: The tutorial facilitator and the learners ask questions.
Eye contact: The smaller group dynamic means learners and the tutorial facilitator are able to show active listening through eye contact.
Active participation: All learners are actively participating through answering questions and explaining ideas.
For a visual representation of what the tutorial looks and feels like, see this PDF.
What a Tutorial Feels Like
Tutorials should feel:
Engaging: The learners are interested and excited by the topic of the tutorial and are engaged in the learning and discussion.
Safe: Learners feel safe in the tutorial environment and are able to openly share ideas.
Challenging: The tutorial should feel intellectually challenging for learners.
Curious: The discussion leads learners to feel more curious about the topic and prompts them to ask questions.
Familiar: The frequency and structure of tutorials means they feel familiar and learners can focus on the topic.