Moriarty, Abigail (2009) The Development, Implementation and Evaluation of Personal Tutor Guidelines in a Pre-Registration Nursing Curriculum. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Aim of the Study: Personal Tutoring is a scholastic mechanism to aid and support students while on a demanding academic and clinically orientated pre-registration nursing programme. Personal Tutoring is widely used in nurse education programmes, although it is often poorly structured with a minimal evidence base and rarely evaluated. The increased numbers of student nurses has seen the role of the Personal Tutor as an intrinsic factor towards a positive student experience. Attrition is an important consideration, but this study aimed to enhance the staff and student roles through tutoring.

Methods: this study, influenced by ethnography, adopted an action research methodology as it encapsulated a constant problem-solving technique. This involved the exploration of academic staff and student perceptions of a Personal Tutor's role within a School of Nursing and Midwifery. Staff and students contributed to semi-structured interviews after a series of focus groups. The focus group discussions utilised the nominal group technique to rank the key points of the posed questions. These priorities were the basis of five staff and five student follow-up semi-structured interviews; the transcripts were manually analysed for trends and complemented with the use of the computer software NVivo 7. This resulted in the development and implementation of School Personal Tutoring Guidelines based on 'good practice', along with supporting evidence from published research. A follow up focus group and questionnaire evaluated the staff's and students' experience of the guidelines, along with a more detailed analysis of two case studies using appreciative inquiry.

Findings: the staff and student focus groups both agreed on areas of good and poor practice in relation to Personal Tutoring; there was also clear agreement about what did and did not contribute towards a supportive Personal Tutor commitment. The Personal Tutoring guidelines were formulated around eight key and shared areas of responsibility, which was a shift from previous approaches. The guidelines were implemented for staff and students through formal mechanisms and the Personal Tutor relationship became a central instrument for existing and future curriculum development and teaching and learning strategies. The follow-up evaluation continued to illustrate variable commitment from both staff and students towards Personal Tutoring, although the majority of the data indicated a positive influence on staff and student experience.

Conclusions: the established guidelines form a standardised Personal Tutoring system based on academic staff and student perceptions of the tutoring role. This has subsequently been disseminated to all areas of the faculty, therefore utilising the cyclical ethos of action learning. Kolb's (1984) experiential learning cycle is used to illustrate the originality of this work and demonstrates how it has added to the existing body of knowledge on Personal Tutoring.

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