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DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE

Notes for the Guidance of Tutors

 

Each student on entry to the Department is allotted to a tutor at the beginning of the Session. No specific time is allocated for tutorials and each tutor has to make his own arrangements with his students.

In the second year students are provided with different topics, and tutorial groups are mixed up in relation to topics. This means students see more members of staff, but students pastoral tutor will still be the one they met in their first year. Details of second year tutorials will be provided by the second year tutor.

Broadly the aims of the tutor are:

1.      to establish personal contact and friendship with the student

2.      to help the student organise his work, especially in the First Year

3.      to act as an interpreter of the rules and procedures of the Faculty and University

4.      to provide appropriate information, support and guidance.

Of these (1) is probably the most important.

Some suggestions for achieving these aims are given below.

1. Personal Contact

a) Tutorials should be frequent.

For First Year students tutorials should be at least once per week. The tutor should endeavour to see the students individually at some stage during the first term since there may be matters which a student wishes to discuss with the tutor but not when other students are present. In all other years students should meet with their tutor at the start and end of each term, to discuss progress and unit choice issues. In the second year, as mentioned above, a separate tutorial programme is run which is topic based. Details of the choice of topics will be made available in the summer term of the first year. Third year and fourth year students have a project supervisor as well as a personal tutor so the necessity of tutors seeing their students frequently is not so important. However, the tutor should still ensure that he/she is fully aware of the student's circumstances and it is recommended that tutors require their students to see them at least two or three times in the term.

b) Discussions at tutorials should range over all aspects of the student's activities.

However, tutorials during the first year are meant to provide academic support for the Computer Science units. Students will normally have weekly problem sheets which the tutor should use to ensure that the students are keeping up with the course. Some suggestions for other tutorial activities are given in section 5.

c) The student should be encouraged to bring any problem, academic or personal, to his/her tutor.

Clearly, discussion of urgent problems need not be deferred to the next formal meeting.

2. Organisation of Work

You should advise your students on how to make the best use of lectures by referring to the following points:

Different lecturers have different methods of lecturing. They will normally fall into one or other of the following:

  1. Extensive use may be made of the blackboard and or overhead projector from which students obtain most of their notes. However, students are likely to miss important points if they are inattentive while the lecturer is talking and they should make a habit of supplementing the formal blackboard notes with their own notes covering extra points made by the lecturer.
  2. The lecturer may prefer to talk most of the time, with only brief notes on the blackboard, and in these circumstances an ability to be able to precis is absolutely essential.

(b) Lecture notes made by a student form the basis for revision and as such must be coherent and complete. They are the student's only record of the major part of the information given in the course.

(c) However, notes alone are not enough for a complete understanding of the subject and the use of textbooks, for reference and for additional reading, is essential.

(d) The important facts to be grasped from lectures are the underlying principles rather than the sometimes complicated algebra involved.

(e) Notes should be re-read soon after the lecture to ensure understanding, and again in preparation before a lecture or examples class to provide continuity.

(f) If handouts have been provided they should be added to the notes and their contents should be studied and understood before subsequent lectures or examples classes.

(g) Students should discuss with their tutors any difficulties they may have with particular courses and should inform the lecturer concerned, particularly in the case of straightforward difficulties, such as, for example, inaudibility.

3. Rules and Procedures - Very Important

There are some requirements that must be made clear to the student.

4. The following points should also be noted:

a)      The Head of Department should be informed promptly of any circumstances which adversely affect the progress of a student.

b)      If the tutor feels that he and the student are finding it impossible to establish a friendly relationship, then the tutor should take the initiative in discussing whether the student might prefer a change to another tutor and in making arrangements for this change, if necessary.

5. Tutorial activities

As well as giving academic support for Computer Science units tutorials can also be used to develop some of the students' transferable skills as follows:

6. Teaching Support Unit

Further information about the University's tutorial system and Notes of Guidance for Personal Tutors and their Tutees can be found and at the following URL on the Teaching Support Unit web site: http://www.bris.ac.uk/tsu/lta/pt/pt.html