PDP UK

PDP UK: our publication written by and for leading Personal Development Practioners. 25 issues available to read and download.

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Concepts, Theories and Research

This section relates to theoretical or conceptual frameworks which could underpin tutoring practice, and highlights some published research.


Concepts used in personal tutoring are often drawn from the worlds of counselling and/or mentoring. The personal tutor relationship is different from either the counsellor/client or the mentor/mentee relationship, but many of the skills needed are the same: active listening, ‘drawing out’, support for planning and target-setting (see The Skills of the Personal Tutor and its subsections).


Just as definitions of the personal tutor role vary, there is no one explanatory framework for ‘what works’ in the tutoring relationship. Without a general agreement on the purpose of the personal tutor role, it is also difficult to establish a measure of ‘success’. Good personal tutoring is often cited as making an important contribution to retention and progression – yet for a particular student, helping them make the decision to leave a programme or institution for clear, positive reasons could be a good outcome of a personal tutorial.


Below are some research publications which focus on personal tutoring. 


Myers, J. (2008) Is personal tutoring sustainable? Comparing the trajectory of the personal tutor with that of the residential warden. Teaching in Higher Education, 13 (5), 607-611.


Owen, M. (2002) Sometimes you feel you’re in niche time: the personal tutor system, a case study. Active Learning in Higher Education, 3 (1), 7 - 23.


Stephen, D., O'Connell, P., Hall, M. (2008) 'Going the extra mile', 'fire-fighting', or laissez-faire? Re-evaluating personal tutoring relationships within mass higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 13 (4), 449-460(12).


Wilcox, P., Winn, S., Fyvie Gauld, M. (2005) ‘It was nothing to do with the university, it was just the people': the role of social support in the first-year experience of higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 30 (6), 707-722(16). 

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