Themed ‘tutor training sessions’ for tutors and demonstrators in Informatics

image iStock Finland
[image iStock Finland]
Since 2012, Informatics has been developing a year-long training programme for tutors and demonstrators, initially with help from the Institute for Academic Development. The programme consists of a series of optional, themed workshops which have been devised to support teaching and are open to all students and staff with current teaching roles within Informatics, including teaching assistants, tutors, demonstrators, coursework or examination markers.

It offers an opportunity to meet and discuss issues relevant to teaching and promotes the importance of developing teaching skills, even if not necessarily pursuing an academic career.  Teaching staff are encouraged to get involved in suggesting useful content for the sessions and they are able to claim payment for attendance. The sessions aim to:

  • advise on new teaching methods and activities;
  • provide tips and tricks for improving teaching;
  • raise awareness of accreditation processes;
  • highlight sources of support and guidance.

The scheme currently consists of 4-6 sessions per semester, divided into “essentials” and “advanced” training. Essentials cover responsibilities and expectations according to policies, rules and regulations and advice on sources of support. Following on from the essentials, more advanced training is conducted for the rest of the semester; these sessions focus on activities and strategies, and provide advice on how to tackle common difficulties.

Some themes are selected by the School based on the academic calendar and some are selected by teaching staff, focusing on the particular areas where they feel additional support would be useful.  So far, sessions have been organised around the following themes:

  • Tutoring and demonstrating- tricks and challenges;
  • Planning for tutorials and labs
  • Marking and providing feedback- tricks and challenges;
  • Gathering feedback;
  • Applying for a teaching accreditation;
  • Supporting students beyond the course.
  • Designing courses

The sessions have been well received. When asked for their opinions about different elements of the training sessions through an online questionnaire, participants valued the topics, advice, tips and tricks provided by the tutor and rated highly the opportunities to contribute to discussions and express opinions. The responses demonstrated that attendees appreciated the opportunity to discuss issues with peers and receive feedback from colleagues in a friendly, informal atmosphere.

The Informatics tutors’ webpages explain the aims and learning outcomes of the training programme and house the session slides and other useful resources.

In the future, Informatics plan to prepare an induction handbook containing a description of the Informatics curricula, roles and responsibilities, key contacts and support and a prioritised reading list for newly appointed tutors, demonstrators, markers and teaching assistants.

Next steps: Find out more about support for tutors and demonstrators on the IAD website

Cristina Alexandru

Cristina is a Research Associate within the School of Informatics. As an Informatics tutor trainer since 2013, she is responsible for the planning, organisation, delivery and assessment of the training programme.

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