As a UQ tutor, you may find yourself working in or facilitating one or several of the following learning environments as part of teaching your course.

1. Problem-based learning

Problem-based learning involves students working in small, collaborative groups on challenging, open-ended problems. Groups are led by tutors, or facilitators.

In problem-based learning, students are encouraged to direct their own learning process with the support of their tutor. This method enhances students’ content knowledge, and aids the development of communication, problem-solving and self-directed learning skills.

In small groups, students are presented with a problem relating to the work that they are currently studying. Students then discuss the problem, define what they need to know and what they need to find out, and then generate hypotheses, identify goals and organise future work in order to solve the problem.

The tutor’s role is not to provide information, but to guide the learning process. Each group’s results are then presented in the next problem-based learning session.

The problem-based learning process should conclude with collaboration with other groups, solving any problems that may arise from this, and reflection on the learning process. Feedback on the process should also be provided by the tutor.

Top of page

2. Placement courses

As a tutor, you may be called upon to oversee student placement courses.

In this role you should:

  • Guide and encourage the student to apply the principles of best professional practice.
  • Be regularly available to oversee the student, and verify they attend their regular placement.
  • Encourage students to research any questions during their placement.
  • Ensure students complete and return their placement assessment forms.
  • Notify the placements officer or academic supervisor of any issues or problems.
  • Ensure that a Work Off-Campus Plan is completed and that the student and placement facility comply with it.

Regarding payment and insurance aspects of student placement courses, you should be aware of the following:

  • The Head of School must follow the appropriate approval processes in order to ensure there are no problems with various types of insurance.
  • Students should not be paid for their placement. Payment invalidates any University of Queensland insurance cover.
  • There needs to be written agreement signed by UQ and the placement provider outlining responsibilites.
  • Students do not have professional liability insurance.
  • If placements are not in Australia, undergraduates need to take out their own travel insurance.

The relevant policy is Placements in Coursework Programs.

Top of page

3. Laboratory settings

As a tutor working in a laboratory environment, you need to make sure that:

  • Your tetanus immunisation is up to date.
  • You have a course of Hepatitis B immunisation if you are in contact with human blood or blood products.
  • You are vaccinated for a number of zoonoses if you are working with animals. The UQ Immunisation Guidelines provide information relevant to risk assessment for zoonoses. More detailed advice can be obtained from the OHS unit and UQ Health Care.

All of the above vaccinations are available through UQ Health Care.

As a tutor, you must make sure that all students know:

  • The safe handling conditions for substances and specimens being handled.
  • The location of the laboratory’s safety facilities, e.g. safety showers, eyewash stations, fire extinguishers and emergency exits.
  • The University’s emergency procedures.

You also need to ensure students are aware of the following rules:

  • Students are not permitted to enter any laboratory without the permission of the laboratory supervisor or tutor.
  • Laboratories can only be used outside timetabled periods with the lecturer’s or tutor’s written permission.
  • No food or drink (including drinking water from water bottles) can be consumed in laboratories.
  • Covered footwear must be worn during pracs. Students wearing thongs, open-weave shoes or sandals cannot enter the lab.
  • Long hair must be tied back and a lab coat worn at all times in a lab.
  • All specimens should be treated as though they were infectious.
  • Defective equipment or broken glassware should be reported immediately.
  • Spillages must be cleaned immediately after they occur.
  • Hands must be washed thoroughly before leaving the laboratory.
  • Students must tell you immediately if they are injured in any way in the lab.

Who pays for and supplies personal protective equipment is at the discretion of your school, section or centre.

Top of page

4. Group work

As a tutor, you need to know how to manage group work effectively.

Group work should encourage peer learning and support, and should be structured in a way that reflects the work of the group as a whole and the work of the individuals in the group.

In designing group work, explicit guidelines must be available and explained to all students before commencing. Guidelines should include:

Methods for determining groups

For example:

  • random assignment
  • resources personnel bring (e.g. specific complementary skills)
  • self-selection (e.g. friends, type of task to be undertaken)
  • size (e.g. four members is ideal as it ensures all contribute).

Roles of group members

For example:

  • All members are interdependently linked (i.e. sink or swim together).
  • All members are expected to contribute (e.g. group members ‘sign off’ on their individual contributions).
  • All members are expected to promote each other’s learning (e.g. suggest ideas, help locate information, provide constructive feedback on ideas).
  • Group members need to negotiate their roles and responsibilities within the group.

Time management strategies

For example:

  • Group members discuss and allocate tasks and responsibilities to meet the required timeframe.
  • Contingencies are planned for in case a member/s is unable to complete their tasks in time.
  • Group members regularly report to the group on progress to date.

Group processes and procedures

For example:

  • Group members provide feedback to each other; reflect on what they accomplished (content covered) and how they worked together as a group (process covered).
  • Students negotiate goals for their next meeting and celebrate their achievements.

How marks will be assigned

For example:

  • Normally if group members undertake subtasks of equal value, they share a group mark.
  • Alternatively, a mark is allocated for a group presentation, based on all members contributing. This is followed by a piece of work that is completed individually (e.g. academic essay) for which the individual receives a separate mark.

For more information on marking group work, visit the Assessment, marking and feedback section of Working as a tutor.

Much of this content is taken from Gillies: Cooperative Learning, and Johnson & Johnson: Joining Together.

Top of page

5. Fieldwork

Fieldwork is conducted in some disciplines to enrich students' learning experience.

As a tutor you may be involved in supervising fieldwork at a location which may not be registered as a University workplace, but where the University is responsible for the safety of its staff and students, and those exposed to their activities.

Under the Workplace Health & Safety Act a fieldwork location is recognised as a workplace. Supervisors, staff and students are required to meet their legal obligations for occupational health and safety during fieldwork planning and participation.

The Head of School must follow the appropriate approval processes in order to ensure there are no problems with various types of insurance.

The University has a Work Off-Campus procedure.

Information on eligibility and travel insurance policy can be found on the Current staff website.

If fieldwork is not undertaken in Australia, undergraduates need to take out their own travel insurance.

Top of page

6. eLearning

eLearning is electronically enabled learning. It uses the internet and other electronic resources to enrich face-to-face lectures and other traditional teaching methods.

The University uses Blackboard as its primary eLearning tool.

To use eLearning effectively you need to:

Be prepared for the role

It is likely that your role in eLearning will involve using the communication tools on a course website, so:

  • Become familiar with the course site and its features, and clarify anything that you are unsure of with your course coordinator.
  • Locate any appropriate help desk numbers that you may require.
  • Consult your course coordinator to make sure that you have all the computing requirements you need, including any necessary passwords.
  • Read the University’s Acceptable use of UQ ICT resources policy, and bring it to the attention of students.
  • Undertake any training that may assist your role.

Be familiar with online communication

You may be required to use a number of different online tools to communicate with your students, which you should be familiar with:

  • Discussion forums/bulletin boards
  • Chatrooms
  • Email
  • Listservs
  • Blogs

Manage student expectations

Let students know how and when you will participate online, and what your response time for feedback on their questions and assessment will be.

Use good judgement online

Be mindful of who you are communicating with, and always treat others with respect. Make sure that you:

  • Keep messages succinct and to the point, but not too abrupt in tone.
  • Clearly identify the topic of your email or discussion posting in the subject line.
  • Remember to re-read your email before sending it.
  • Be careful about using sarcasm and humour, as it can often be misinterpreted.
  • Never put anything in an email that you would not be happy to see on the front page of a newspaper.

Know how to facilitate discussions online

A person who facilitates an online discussion is known as an ‘E-moderator’. Your role as an E-moderator involves:

  • Stating the goals of the discussion, your expectations and any ground rules.
  • Engaging students in the discussion by using various strategies. Aim for discussions that will require less input from you over time, and more interaction between students.
  • Refocusing the discussion if it gets off topic.
  • Addressing any behaviour you feel is inappropriate.

Be familiar with assessment and evaluation

You may be required to oversee some assessment tasks online. Make sure you are well aware of the skills you will need to do this, and discuss your role with your course coordinator.

There are ways of getting specific feedback on aspects of a course website or other eLearning tool through an anonymous online survey. 

Top of page

7. Distance learning

Distance learning is when the student is learning at home or in another off-campus location.

Teaching distance learning students can be challenging, as students often feel quite isolated from you as the teacher and from their fellow students.

When teaching distance students, it is important to remember that:

  • Students may have difficulty accessing material in a timely manner.
  • Students in remote areas may have a slow internet connection, and downloading image-heavy materials can be problematic.
  • Students can feel isolated, and your speedy response to their emails can make a huge difference to their student experience.
Top of page

8. Clinical teaching

Clinical teaching is teaching which takes place in a clinical context. It usually involves patients and clinical procedures, and as such, necessitates sensitivity, confidentiality and discretion.

As a clinical teacher, you need to:

  • Act as a role model for students (e.g. dress appropriately, act courteously, etc.).
  • Clearly articulate the criteria used for student assessment.
  • Clearly demonstrate and explain clinical material and treatment techniques.
  • Demonstrate how theoretical knowledge can be applied in a clinical situation.
  • Monitor students' clinical progress regularly, critically and constructively.
  • Encourage students to develop rapport and empathy with the patient and/or their family.

Clinical teaching often involves presentation of a case, assessment and discussion of the case.

As a clinical teacher, it is important that you:

  • Encourage students to present the facts of the case to you (without intervening to offer a diagnosis).
  • Encourage students to explain the rationale behind their thinking.
  • Provide general rules targeted to the learner’s level of understanding.
  • Tell the student what they did right, and correct their mistakes in a constructive manner.
Top of page