Throughout our students’ entire course of study, they can rely on the continual assistance of their Tutors. The Tutor is an expert guide who deals with administrative questions, helps students plan their studies, and gives them ongoing psychological support until they take their degree. The Tutor acts as a consultant and guide, ‘planning’ the student’s learning experience, and provides them with direct support on an individual basis, both online and in ‘face-to-face’ encounters.
Students can converse with their Tutors in real time by using:
- the telephone
- the chat room
- the video-chat room
- the video and audio-conference systems activated on the Unicusano Platform
When communication in real time is not necessary, students can use tools such as e-mail and discussion forums on the University Platform to communicate with their Tutors.
Email allows a rapid exchange of information, documents and materials while the discussion forums, related to the topics of a given subject, allow students to engage in collaborative learning process. This approach is different compared from the audio and video-conference systems, which rely on oral communication. Here the focus is on writing, which gives students the chance to reflect and organize their thoughts regarding the discussion topic and study activity that students are engaged in.
The functions of the Tutor
The Tutor acts as a consultant and guide who “plans” the students’ learning experience; he or she can for example:
- Help the student stay motivated by creating an open and positive climate
- Provide help concerning the course contents:
- Connect the contents to the previous knowledge of the student;
- Solve problems regarding contents;
- Develop study skills:
- Promote a critical spirit;
- Develop learning styles and cognitive strategies;
- Help students to self-regulate their study and learning;
- Introduce the student to the use of new technology (e-mail, chat rooms, videoconferencing and Internet).
- Give evaluation/ feedback
- Inform students about their progress;
- Prepare students for exams;
- Help students to develop realistic self-evaluation skills.
To these tasks are added other functions specific to tutoring.At the beginning of the course, for example, the Tutor :
- defines what the learner is to expect from the course;
- verifies previously acquired knowledge;
- offers suggestions and materials to strengthen any weak spots in the student’s preparation and, if necessary, offers training to improve study skills (especially time management).
During the next phase, which begins at the start of the course itself, the Tutor’s role as mediator comes into play. In fact, during the course the Tutor carries out a series of tasks with the precise aim of guiding the various aspects of the student’s learning.
These tasks include:
- identifying study problems and finding eventual solutions;
- instilling specific study skills and improving learning capacity;
- giving objective and constructive feedback on the results of the learning process;
- instilling a spirit of cooperation among students (functioning in this way as a mediator).
The Tutor’s role as mediator involves a last phase that coincides with the end of the course. Here the Tutor helps the student review the course contents and prepare for the exam.
The function of Professor
Teachers at Unicusano are full or associate university professors or researchers. Some of them come from other Italian state universities and others have been selected by open competitive examinations.
The main activities of the Professor can be summarized as follows:
- devising the teaching programme and update it when necessary;
- preparing the professorial lesson slides and recording the video lessons in person;
- furnishing didactic materials for in-depth study;
- coordinating work with the Tutor;
- helping students with particular problems in the course content;
- organizing and leading discussion forums on topical themes of particular relevance to his or her subject;
- examining the students at the conclusion of each course.