Simon Kemp (Lecturer, Module Coordinator) gives expert video advice on: Can I ask my tutor for advice when choosing modules?; I received a lower grade than I expected for my essay, what should I do?; Will my tutors be able to help with non-academic problems? and more...
Can I ask my tutors for one to one sessions?
Asking a tutor for a one to one session is a good idea if you're getting stuck on something within a particular course. You might have gone through 2 or 3 lectures and feel you don't actually understand the courses content particularly well. Asking your tutor if you can allocate some time for you to have a one to one session to discuss the problems you have with that particular module is a very good idea. The worst thing that you can do is not ask for help if you don't understand something.
How much advice can my tutors give me about coursework?
Asking your tutor for advice on coursework is potentially problematic, because sometimes your tutor might not be an expert in that particular field of study. You might be asking their advice on a draft essay for a piece of coursework that is out of their field of expertise, and they might not be able to advice you appropriately. Also, the tutor needs to check with the course coordinator whether they would approve of you looking over the draft essay. If it's a draft essay that the tutors had themselves, then you can ask the tutor whether they can look over the draft essay, but the advice they probably give you would be with regard to structure, writing skills, and whether you need to do more reading to expand on the content. What they won't be able to do is answer your question and tell you what the answer should be.
Can I ask my tutor to give me feedback on a draft essay?
You can certainly ask your tutor to give you feedback on a draft essay. If it's within the area outside their expertise, then they'll probably give you feedback on the general writing skills, general structure, and your referencing technique. If it is within their subject area, they might be able to give you a few more pointers with regard to where you might want to look for further content. When you do submit your essay or your piece of coursework, you will receive feedback later. It's always a good idea to follow up that feedback to find out ideas for how you might be able to improve your writing skills or what you missed in the way of content, and just generally to improve your overall coursework submissions.
Can I ask my tutor for advice when choosing modules?
Asking your tutor for advice when choosing modules is an excellent idea. If you discuss beforehand with your tutor your career aspirations that you want to get out of your degree, then your tutor will be able to point you in the correct direction of what modules would be most appropriate for you. It's a good idea to not simply do this only once at the start of your degree, but to do it every year. Always remember that your tutor has got a good understanding of the overall degree package, and might even be able to advise you on some modules you might not have considered.
I received a lower grade than I expected for my essay, what should I do?
If you received a lower grade than you expect for the essay that you submitted, then it is a good idea to contact the course coordinator and ask, for instance, where you can go for advice and further reading to make sure that you actually improve for future submissions. Sometimes it might be down to reference and technique, which is a common failuring in quite a lot of students, particularly early on during their studies. You might not necessarily know that unless you actually go and discuss this with the module coordinator.
Will my tutors be able to help with non-academic problems?
If you have non-academic problems while at university, your tutors are probably your best first port-of-call. They might not necessarily be able to help with all non-academic problems, but they'll certainly be able to point you in the right direction to go for the help that you need. Within universities, particularly here at the University of Southampton, we have very well established and very successful student support mechanisms. On many occasions I've had to refer Tutees to some of the specialist assisted agencies around the University, and they are absolutely excellent.