Feedback and Tutoring Styles



Gaye Manwaring, University of Dundee,
and Lorraine Anderson, University of Dundee,

Prepared handouts (see below)

Method: The aim of the session is to encourage participants to explore different modes of one-to-one tutoring and different approaches to providing feedback:

  • Approach 1 - face-to-face
  • Approach 2 – telephone
  • Approach 3 – e-tutoring

Set the context - perhaps with an initial brainstorm followed by a short discussion in plenary about formative feedback and tutor support. (10 minutes)

Ask participants to work in pairs to examine scenarios of modes of tutor-student communication focused on the provision of formative feedback. Give out handouts with instructions and scenarios. (30 minutes)

Hold a plenary debrief. (20 minutes).

Consider the features of the different modes of communication.

  • What helped and what hindered communication?
  • What style did the tutor adopt; and why?
  • Were choices made more to suit tutor preferences or learner preferences?

If there is time you could also discuss other forms of communicating feedback eg audio or video comments, blog posts, skype, annotating the script using track changes or inserted comments.


We delivered an earlier version of this workshop at the SEDA/AISHE conference in March 2002.


Private Preparation

Read both scenarios.  In one you will be the tutor and in the other you will be the student.  Make preparatory notes for both. (5 minutes)

Partner A will give feedback on Scenario 1 to Partner B first by face-to-face contact and then by email.

Partner B will give feedback on Scenario 2 to Partner A first by telephone and then by e-tutoring.

You may choose whether your second tutor contact deals with exactly the same issues as the first (but using a different mode) or whether it follows on.

1          Face-to-face

Partner A (as tutor) gives face-to-face feedback on Scenario 1 to Partner B (as student) who responds as appropriate. (5 minutes)

2          Telephone

Sit back to back. Partner B (as tutor) gives feedback as if by telephone on Scenario 2 to Partner A (as student) who responds as appropriate. (5 minutes)

3          e-tutoring

Partner A (as tutor) writes an email message on Scenario 1.  Partner B (as tutor) writes an email on Scenario 2. (5 minutes)

Exchange items and read the written message from your partner. Discuss your reactions to the 3 different formats. (10 minutes)

Scenario 1

Pat is taking a management studies course by distance learning with on-campus meetings. The assignment is to analyse the implications of new legislation for his company. Pat has sent in a draft which is well written but is far too long and is narrow in focus. It does not meet the assignment requirements yet Pat tells you the company wishes to use it as a starter paper.

Partner A.  Please tutor Pat using face-to face contact and e-tutoring.

Scenario 2

Ali is in the second year of a part-time doctorate and has sent you a detailed plan of work for the next ten weeks.  It is very complex and deviates from the main direction of the dissertation.  Ali has struggled with time management in the past and with maintaining a clear focus.

Partner B.  Please tutor Ali using telephone and e-tutoring.


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