What's so special about Oxford tutorial system?

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Codemetry
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It's about academic discussion and the exchange of ideas. You can receive feedback about your work and support, plus a new perspective on a problem/work. But I see other unis like ICL and UCL also have tutorials, just they don't mention the details like Oxford. Are there any insights about what makes the Oxford tutorial system stand out from other universities?
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liverninthered
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1. No. of students (you might have individual tutorials or 2 or 3 students to one tutor, which is rarer outside Oxbridge).
2. Frequency (at least one a week, often two or three, whereas at other universities they may be less frequent)

The above may not be true of all subjects at all universities, but that is the general rule.
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Plagioclase
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I've wondered this too (as someone who gives tutorials at Oxford). I'd be interested in hearing about tutorial group sizes and frequency at other universities because from what I've heard, they don't sound too dissimilar (other than perhaps the amount of work set for a tutorial).
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Muttley79
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(Original post by Codemetry)
It's about academic discussion and the exchange of ideas. You can receive feedback about your work and support, plus a new perspective on a problem/work. But I see other unis like ICL and UCL also have tutorials, just they don't mention the details like Oxford. Are there any insights about what makes the Oxford tutorial system stand out from other universities?
I really don't know - many unis offer weekly tutorials with 2 or 3 students a week. It's over-stated ...
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OxFossil
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(Original post by Muttley79)
I really don't know - many unis offer weekly tutorials with 2 or 3 students a week. It's over-stated ...
Do they? I'd be interested to hear where/how these are structured. When I was a lecturer, I offered students tutorials with me as often as they liked, but I was very unusual. Virtually none of my peers did likewise; the norm was 2 or maybe 3 a term, often with around 6-8 participants (something I would regard as more akin to a 'seminar'). It would be good if small weekly tutorials were a norm elsewhere nowadays
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Muttley79
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(Original post by OxFossil)
Do they? I'd be interested to hear where/how these are structured. When I was a lecturer, I offered students tutorials with me as often as they liked, but I was very unusual. Virtually none of my peers did likewise; the norm was 2 or maybe 3 a term, often with around 6-8 participants (something I would regard as more akin to a 'seminar'). It would be good if small weekly tutorials were a norm elsewhere nowadays
Well they are - evidence from students at uni now - weekly ones are scheduled but drop in are encouraged too.
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OxFossil
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Here's my understanding of the Oxbridge model of the tutorial:

- they happen at least weekly, throughout the 3 years of a UG course

- involve typically 2 or 3 students, but sometimes 1 or 4

- structured around discussing the specific piece of work the students have been set/an essay they have written that week and aimed at exploring the individual students' ideas and difficulties. They are not just another way of delivering lecture content.

My experience of other unis is that none has quite that model. gthe usual deviations are that they often they involve 6 or more students; are really just small group lectures eg aimed at helping students with some technical issue like programming; or happen only as a routine in Year 1 only. But enterprising individual students can often get a lot more 1-1 input if they only realised it!

Muttley79 Is the Oxbridge model what your students are reporting from other unis? If so, it would be really interesting to know which ones, since it's long been something seen as a point of difference
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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Posting to subscribe as I have a fair bit to say on this :awesome:
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OxFossil
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(Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)
Posting to subscribe as I have a fair bit to say on this :awesome:
I'm eager to hear your thoughts, TLG! For what it's worth, when I was an UG, every one of my tutorials was 1:1, and the result was fairly disastrous. I was never doing the same work as my peers, so couldn't share ideas, and had no clue whether I was doing comparitively well or badly. It fed into the sense of social isolation I had. On the plus side, in retrospect, I can see how strong my academic learning ended up being, compared to friends who'd gone elsewhere. My daughter's more recent experience of tutorials with1 or 2 colleagues was much more positive; I can see how it helped her develop academic confidence as well as a strong work ethic.
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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(Original post by OxFossil)
I'm eager to hear your thoughts, TLG! For what it's worth, when I was an UG, every one of my tutorials was 1:1, and the result was fairly disastrous. I was never doing the same work as my peers, so couldn't share ideas, and had no clue whether I was doing comparitively well or badly. It fed into the sense of social isolation I had. On the plus side, in retrospect, I can see how strong my academic learning ended up being, compared to friends who'd gone elsewhere. My daughter's more recent experience of tutorials with1 or 2 colleagues was much more positive; I can see how it helped her develop academic confidence as well as a strong work ethic.
:eek: at all your tutes being 1:1 :eek:

I will post later when more awake. Waiting a while to post my thoughts until my brain is co-operating a bit better

:hugs:
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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OK so brain still not entirely working, but will give replying a shot :beard:

(Original post by Codemetry)
It's about academic discussion and the exchange of ideas. You can receive feedback about your work and support, plus a new perspective on a problem/work. But I see other unis like ICL and UCL also have tutorials, just they don't mention the details like Oxford. Are there any insights about what makes the Oxford tutorial system stand out from other universities?
Neither ICL or UCL (nor LSE, as it happens) offer my subject (music), so I don't pretend to have indepth understanding of what studying at any of them is like. That said, my rudimentary understanding of the three unis I've mentioned, is that:

- tutorials at these unis are supplementary forms of teaching, not the main form of teaching
- tutorial group sizes at these unis are bigger than at Oxbridge
- furthermore, tutorials are not offered systematically across every single subject these unis offer. You get them in some subjects, but not in others

I'm willing to be educated/proved wrong with recent/current evidence if that is no longer/never was the case! My understanding is that the whole premise of the New College of the Humanities (or whatever that very new uni is called) is that it's the only non-Oxbridge uni to offer a 1:1/miniscule-group Oxbridge-style tutorial/supervision system across all of its subjects - so is meant to appeal to those who (for whatever reason) do not apply/get into Oxbridge. If ICL and/or UCL were offering a 1:1/miniscule group Oxbridge-style tutorial/supervision system across all subjects, then there would have been no need/demand for the NCH to have been created :nah:

Moving onto the question of what makes the Oxford tutorial system (and by extension, the Cambridge supervision system) stand out. Other very astute points have been made about how what Oxbridge calls a tutorial/supervision, and what other unis call a "tutorial/supervision", differs wildly. When my friends (doing a variety of subjects at other respected UK unis) say they had "tutorials" at undergrad, they are either referring to drop-in sessions with a particular lecturer (which, imho, is NOT a tutorial. It's a drop-in session ), or they are referring to sessions consisting of 8-10 people. At Oxbridge, 8-10 people is a seminar, not a tutorial/supervision :fyi: So just because other unis use the same words, doesn't mean they're offering the same thing :nah:

The frequency of tutorials has also been mentioned by other posters in this thread. I had at least three tutorials per week (sometimes as many as 5! And this is NOT inclusive of instrumental/vocal lessons: I'm talking academic tutorials here), every week, every term, for 3 years as a given. None of my friends reading music at other top/world-class uni depts. had anything near that level of contact time :nope: Actually, none of my friends doing non-lab-based-science subjects had anything like that, and they were at some of the best unis this nation has to offer :yep: So Oxbridge are offering their undergrad students a LOT in that respect, both in terms of no. of hours, and quality teaching. That's not to say everyone who lectures at Oxford is a good teacher, or that they teach undergrads at all, but there's a lot more close contact between staff and students than there would be at other unis.

This has academic and pastoral rammifications, which is what I would like to focus my reply on. Due to all the close contact and the teeny-tiny group teachings, many of the problems a student may face are picked up far quicker and easier than in other unis (where a student may be just one person in a faceless sea of undergrads, and can easily get lost in a crowd). If a student starts missing tutorials/supervisions/lectures/seminars/labs/whatever, it is very quickly spotted. If a student is doing really in a particular module, it's very easy for Oxbridge to stretch that student even further, due to it being 1:1 or 2:1/3:1 teaching. Conversely if (as was the case with me) a student is struggling for whatever reason, that is far easily spotted by Oxbridge than at other unis where there are bigger "tutorial/supervision" groups. There's no place to hide in an Oxbridge tutorial/supervision. So if someone is underconfident, lagging behind, or needs remedial teaching (I was all three!), then that is easily spotted.

Also, due to Oxbridge having a lot more money than other unis, additional/remedial tutorials/supervisions can easily be arranged. In my case, I was abysmal at one particular module but the Faculty (or maybe it was the college - I forget which) did not allow 1:1 teaching for that module, for first year students. It soon became apparent that lagging behind in this module was destroying me on multiple levels, so my college tutor very quickly took it upon himself to teach me 1:1 even though he wasn't allowed to. (He said he'd sort it with the rule-makers. Whether he ever did, or ever got paid extra for those 1:1 sessions he was meant to be offering, I've no idea! :iiam: ) In another instance, when I finally expressed a preference not to be paired with a particular person in my college for 2:1 tutorials, that was also very easily arranged for certain modules. For modules where it wasn't possible, the 2:1 tutorial system was such that it was apparent to tutors what the group dynamic was between me and this git (even without being told by my college), and the teeny-tiny tutorial size meant that the power dynamics could be addressed and rebalanced very easily by the tutor in question.

Dinner's almost ready but feel free to let me know if you have any questions, OP!
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