ST51 – Peer tutoring and the tutor training at the University of Eastern Finland: Peer support as a systematical part of advising services for new students.

Poster
Presentation
Room C – Tuesday 09:00-10:00

Katri Ruth

Student and Learning Services, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

Ms. Katri Ruth (MA Psych) works as a Study Counselling Psychologist at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF). The focus of her work is to support student’s possibilities to meaningful studies on a personal and organisational level. Developing counselling system, including peer tutoring practices, is one of her duties at UEF.

Summary

The peer tutoring is a part of the advising system at the UEF. In order to develop the peer support into a tutoring system a clear structure, good networking as well as training for tutors are needed. The focus of the presentation will be in the peer tutor training.

Abstract

The University of Eastern Finland (UEF) is one of the largest in Finland with 15,000 degree students at three campuses located triangularly approximately 150 kilometers away from each other. 3,000 students are admitted to the UEF each year.

The peer tutor is a senior student who is trained to help the new students to join the academic community, adapt into the university system and student life.  The purpose of the peer tutoring is to support the new students in the beginning of their studies including support in practical issues of studies. Tutors help new students to build social contacts and introduce the campus city, services and leisure time possibilities. In addition, peer tutors for international students help them to adapt into the Finnish culture and lifestyle. Peer tutors can help with the study planning by sharing their own experiences, but the university staff members are responsible for academic advising. Ideally, teacher-tutors and peer tutors co-operate.

Peer tutors contact the new students on the first day of the semester. The tutoring sessions are a part of the course “Starting Academic Studies” which is obligatory for all the students. The tutoring includes 10 small group sessions and in addition the peer tutors usually organize different social events and co-operate with the Student Union.

The peer tutoring is organized in co-operation with the UEF Student and Learning Services, the Faculties and the Student Union. UEF and the Student Union have a contract in which the responsibilities of tutoring are defined. The peer tutor training and development network includes also a representative from the Finnish Student Health Services, the Campus City, a university chaplain and senior tutors (experienced peer tutors).  The training is the key element to insure the quality of tutoring. We train 260 tutors from 3 campuses every year.  Tutoring training course (2 credits) comprises 31h contact training and 23h independent study including learning assignments, tutoring plans and tutoring report with a feedback on how the tutoring was organized and how it succeeded.

In the training, the tutor obtains practical knowledge and skills to act as a tutor. The training course gives in-depth knowledge about the UEF practices, services, curriculum and current issues which the new student should know about. Furthermore, the tutor understands the general goals of tutoring and the tutor´s responsibilities and role as a part of the overall advising system. In addition, the tutor learns about the principles of working in small groups.

The focus of my presentation will be in the peer tutor training, how we support building the competence of the peer tutors and what is the role of a counselling psychologist in that.  In addition, I will bring out some key points on how to improve tutoring as an integrated part of the university advising system.

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