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How does a tutor training and professional development program influence teaching practice as experienced by tutors?

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 3:00pm – 3:30pm parallel session



Room 11 – 303-B11 Sem



Dr Valeria Stella Cotronei-Baird
The University of Melbourne, Australia

Austin Chia
The University of Melbourne, Australia 

Professor Angela Paladino
The University of Melbourne, Australia

Alexandra Johnston
The University of Melbourne, Australia



Tutors are a core component of the university casual teaching workforce. Tutors work directly with students in small tutorial groups. They are mostly involved in instructional delivery and facilitation (Dotger, 2011; Hall & Sutherland, 2013; Muzaka, 2009) and largely responsible for a significant component of assessment marking and feedback (Byers & Tani, 2014). Recognising the important contribution of tutors, many Australian universities today are investing in and delivering professional development programs (Byers & Tani, 2014; Fredericks & Bosanqueet, 2017; Hamilton, Fox, & McEwan, 2013; Harvey, 2013, 2017; Mathews, Duck, & Bartle, 2017). The need for such programs is crucial because tutors are often hired without any formal credentials or experience in teaching (Hardré & Chen, 2006). However, there have only been few studies that have evaluated the outcomes of programs directed specifically at tutors (Hitch, Mahoney, & Macfarlane, 2017; Percy, Scoufis, Parry, Goody, & Hicks, 2008; Young & Bippus, 2008).

The purpose of the presentation is to present the preliminary findings of a study that evaluated how a professional development program in a faculty of a large Australian university influenced tutors’ perceptions of the tutor role. Data was collected using open-ended interviews that captured tutors’ perceptions of tutoring before and after participation in the program. The program focuses on teaching principles, practice, peer mentoring and peer observation. he preliminary findings indicate that tutors hold three different conceptions of the tutor role: a transmitter, a facilitator and a reflexive practitioner. Prior to the program, 61% of tutors identified themselves as a transmitter, 34% a facilitator and 3.8% a reflexive practitioner The post-interview data indicates that tutors’ perceptions shifted: 3.8% transmitter, 65% facilitator and 30% reflexive practitioner. A number of factors influence self-perceptions of the role, many of which traverse the professional development program highlighting the significant influence of a ‘practice network’[1]



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[1] A ‘practice network’ is defined as ‘building relationships with others (tutors, facilitators, students) to create opportunities for cooperative learning, enhancing understanding and skill development and improving upon teaching practice overall’.


Presentation topic

Academics – Changing Academic Practice

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