Building upon a unique system for pastoral care

1 Jul

In recent years, I have had the privilege of working alongside a very talented colleague Paul Newman.  Together we have developed a highly successful application called Co-Tutor (http://co-tutor.lboro.ac.uk/about.php) in use by over 1000 members of staff here at Loughborough University.  I’m continuing to develop new functionality this summer, funded by the JISC Pedestal for Progression project, to enhance the progression and overall teaching and learning experience of final year students.

Co-Tutor screen shot

I submitted the following information about Co-Tutor to the recent call for evidence by the HEA for effective interventions to enhance student retention and success.  It is hopefully soon to be published in the 6th Bi-annual Retention Briefing to be published in July 2011.

Co-Tutor is a Student and Staff Relationship Management (SSRM) system and is used by academic staff and administrators to communicate with and manage personal tutees, project students, industrial placement activities, postgraduate research supervision and course cohorts.  It is a large PHP/MySQL web application with interfaces to the University’s student information system, attendance monitoring software and the Moodle virtual learning environment (VLE).

Co-Tutor is also used by departmental management to monitor the contact and interaction that staff have with the students; attendance at lectures, tutorials and meetings; as an archive for email communication and used as an invaluable resource after the students have graduated.  Academics can now enter information as free text, pre-defined statements and tags.  As well as comments, Co-Tutor contains important metrics on student welfare, progression and attendance.  For example, it has been used successfully to support academics when students enter claims for impaired performance.

In 2010 we carried out a survey of users.  Over 110 academic responded with the following evidence supporting Co-Tutor’s effectiveness.

  • (55/62) 89% reported a positive effect on aiding intervention and early recognition of struggling students. (8/62) 13% reported a dramatic improvement.
  • (51/60) 85% reported a positive effect on communication between various tutors and administrators. (6/60) 10% reported a dramatic improvement.
  • (47/56) 84% agreed or strongly agreed it helps new members of staff in their tutoring roles.
  • (41/53) 77% either agreed or strongly agreed that it helped to provide consistent pastoral care and industrial supervision across the department.

Co-Tutor has recently been awarded a prestigious IMS Global Learning Impact Leadership Award at the Learning Impact Conference (Long Beach, California – May 2010) in the established initiatives category.

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