Students should feel that they can have open discussions with their Academic Tutor about their academic and professional development, and any issues they might be having which could affect these. For this to be able to happen it is important to establish early contact with your tutees and to develop a professional rapport from (or even before) the first time you meet.
New students are likely to be unsure of what an Academic Tutor is for, and the benefits of having one. They may have read a bit about the role during the Study Smart course, or on the Essentials webpages, but they’re probably not quite sure what they can and can’t expect from you and what you might expect of them. It is important to discuss these expectations with your tutees in your first meeting, explaining how you see the role and making sure that you both understand it in a similar way. The Student Charter can be a good starting point for discussing expectations, and the suggested meeting agenda has ideas of other things to discuss in your first meeting with tutees.
To establish rapport with your tutees it’s important that you are willing to have an open dialogue with the student by listening attentively and responding thoughtfully. Two of the biggest factors in establishing rapport with a student are respect and trust. Your tutees need to be able to trust that you will take what they say seriously, try and understand what they need, and endeavour to help. If this is the case they are more likely to respect you as a tutor and it is easier to have open conversations.
According to Granitz et al (2009) important factors of establishing rapport are:
- Respect. Treat students as individuals, and as adults who are capable of making their own decisions.
- Approachability. Make sure your tutees know when and how you are available, so they can feel comfortable in coming to you.
- Open communication. Really listen and pay attention to what is being said, and not said, in tutor meetings. Be honest and transparent in your answers.
- Caring. Show tutees that they are important to you, and that you are concerned about any issues that might be affecting them and their work.
- Positive attitude. Be friendly, and ensure that your tutees know that you are there to help them.
Granitz, N. A., Koernig, S. K., and Harich, K. R. (2009). Now it’s personal: Antecedents and outcomes of rapport between business faculty and their students. Journal of Marketing Education, 31 (1), 52-65.