WOU holds second Tutor Convention

(27-28 November 2010)

Tutors attending the second Tutor Convention at the WOU main campus were called to reflect on their tutoring skills and what type of tutors they are – whether they are an ‘explainer’, ‘involver’ or ‘enabler’.

Speaking on ‘Bringing Out The Best in Tutors’ on the first day of the convention themed ‘Cultivating Successful Adult Learners’, WOU School of Education, Languages and Communications (SELC) dean Prof Dr Malachi Edwin Vethamani said the university hopes to come out with best tutoring practices for the tutors.

Prof Edwin speaks about best tutoring practices.

Prof Edwin speaks about best tutoring practices.

He said the ‘enabler’ would be the most effective as this tutor knows how to talk to students in order to facilitate the learning process. The students do self-study but at the same time the tutor draws them back to tutorials, and acts as a guide.

Prof Edwin said the ‘explainer’ knows the subject matter but has limited knowledge of tutoring methodology, and lectures to students. “This tutor dominates the whole tutorial, and the students just absorb.” As for the ‘involver’, this tutor resorts to mainly tutor’s explanations, but does provide activities to draw the students into the learning process.

When highlighting the tutoring principles, Prof Edwin said tutors should have knowledge of the subject and be able to translate that knowledge into appropriate tutoring skills. “Problem-solving exercise is good as students remember better when they themselves are doing it, and they can then go and apply them.”

Tutors pose with WOU staff.

Tutors pose with WOU staff.

He urged the tutors to “think on how you can improve yourself to become more effective. Part of professional training is not the accumulation of degrees but looking out for training opportunities for professional development.”

Earlier, WOU Assistant Vice Chancellor (Academic Support) Prof Dato’ Ho Sin Chye, in welcoming the tutors, highlighted the RM125 token cash incentive for tutors under the WOU Friends and Family Programme for each successful new enrolment. He shared on WOU’s e-learning development roadmap, including the gradual phasing out of printed materials, and the provision of CD-ROMs and e-Books.

This was followed by an ice-breaking session chaired by School of Business and Administration lecturer Deehbanjli Lakshmayya where the tutors plus a few WOU staff were divided into 7 groups of favourite Malaysian foods. Each person picked a slip listing an ingredient and found four others with matching ingredients for that particular dish, to form the groups.

Tutors taking part in the activity.

Tutors taking part in the activity.

In the second activity, the groups were given 3 questions for discussion and the team leader then presented the most creative answer. The questions were: ‘If you had a superpower, what would it be?’; ‘If you had (have) a tattoo, where and what shape would it be?’; and ‘If your life was made into a movie, what genre would it be and who would be the actor playing you?’ This session drew some hilarious, revealing and provocative answers.

Meanwhile School of Foundation and Liberal Studies senior lecturer Jasmine Emmanuel chaired the session on “Tutor Voices - Insights and Feedbacks” on the second day. Among the feedbacks were online marking was not suitable for every subject, especially mathematics, and it was stressful to scroll up and down. Prof Ho and Prof Edwin offered some suggestions to facilitate online marking.

A few tutors wanted WOU to have some sort of disciplinary sanction against those who abuse the learning management system by posting rude remarks with intent to incite other students, or launch personal attacks on tutors. There were also calls for Regional Offices to inform tutors and fellow students if a tragedy befalls a student, and for the university to provide student exam results to tutors so that they can gauge how effective they have been.

Prof Ho presents certificates to the tutors.

Prof Ho presents certificates to the tutors.

Prof Ho presented certificates at the closing to the 30 tutors from the regional offices in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Ipoh and Kota Bharu who attended.