Good Practice Exchange: Personal Tutoring and ‘Rescue Plans’

“In May 2014 I was honoured to receive the MMUnion Teaching Award for the Best Personal Tutor. This was particularly valued by me as I have always regarded student support as key. The full-time undergraduate students are at the core of any university and to provide needed advice can genuinely help students on their academic and personal journey.

I am the first to state that there is no “one size fits all” model for being an effective Personal Tutor. It largely depends on the personality and individual interests of the tutor. Other colleagues have equally effective views and practices which they operate.
My aim has been to make myself available to students either personally or by email. It is then to empathise with the student and imagine how they must feel. From there an effective dialogue can begin and hopefully a positive plan, whereby a student, who has run into difficulties, might now appreciate that all is not lost and a rescue strategy can be possible. This requires the student to keep to their side of the bargain and complete what has been agreed.

I also try to be strict in not overstepping my remit. If the student problem is one which requires external support then I will act as a signpost and point the student in the right direction. I also encourage them to call and see me to let me know how they are progressing, if they wish to. Hopefully, this builds a relationship which can benefit the student, increase student satisfaction and aid retention.

As my career is drawing to a close, it is very gratifying to be nominated for this award, let alone to receive it. I hope this achievement does reflect on some good practice which has been developed over the years to help students who are experiencing a wide range of problems. These are not always of their own making. Even if they are, my personal view is everyone deserves another chance to go on and achieve their personal goal.”

Contributed by Chris Lovatt, Senior Lecturer in Department of Business and Management Studies, MMU Cheshire

The Good Practice Exchange is an online resource created by CELT MMU to document good practice in learning, teaching and assessment by our colleagues across the university. If you or your colleagues have a teaching initiative or aspect of good practice you think would be valuable to share, contact Eleanor Livermore on