THE BENEFITS OF NEW MARKS AVAILABILITY ON RISIS FOR PERSONAL TUTORING: By Dr Madeline Davies, EMA Academic, and Kat Lee (External)

The EMA Programme has delivered a new function within RISIS that allows colleagues to see their students’ sub modular marks on the Tutor Card. We have all had access to the Tutor Card for some time and it has provided an invaluable snapshot of a student’s degree history, particularly useful for writing references and for monitoring attendance. However, in terms of sub modular marks, it has always functioned retrospectively: prior to the start of the new academic year, our students’ updated assessment records from the previous session are available on the Card but they have never been available during the academic session.

The sub modular mark screens accessible via the Tutor Card mean that we will no longer have to wait until the end of the academic year to have access to our students’ assessment information and this creates a range of benefits for personal tutors in particular. Easy access to the sub modular marks will provide an early indication of any problems that our students may be having and this will allow us to address these issues in a timely manner.

The information becoming available is significantly more extensive than a list of marks alone: a series of codes is used to flag up, for example, a result involving academic misconduct or extenuating circumstances requests (scroll down the page to translate the codes via the key), and a hover function under ‘Notes’ provides submission details so that personal tutors can tell when a ‘late’ penalty has been applied or when there has been another change to a mark (see image). Any one of these situations would require personal tutor intervention but, until now, this information has not been available to us unless our tutees have chosen to disclose it in personal tutor meetings.

The new screens are, then, particularly significant for our work as personal tutors: the wealth of information made available gives tutors the means to identify and support students who are struggling before they find themselves in crisis. Proactive and early intervention is always more effective than reactive response, and the additional access to information during the year that has been made available by EMA allows us to ensure that no student falls behind without us realising it.

The new screens also connect with the University’s inclusivity agenda in that students coming to us from non-traditional educational backgrounds can need extra support in their first months with us. The screens will alert us to situations where Study Advice, or Counselling and Wellbeing, need to be consulted.

In addition, students who may be of concern in academic engagement and/or Fitness to Study processes, can be checked at every assessment point, and this will allow Senior Tutors and SDTLs the opportunity to assess a student’s ability to cope with the pressure of assessment deadlines. This in turn facilitates early intervention in problematic cases and provides an easily available record of performance in cases requiring escalation.

The role of the personal tutor primarily involves offering tutees academic advice in response to their marks, feedback and more general concerns. The addition to the Tutor Card of sub modular marks and notes during the course of the year underpins this work and creates the opportunity for meaningful discussions with our tutees. New access to this information allows us to respond to student issues ‘in real time’, thus allowing personal tutors to act as effective academic advisors, and to engage in crucial developmental dialogue with the students in our care.

To view a screencast that shows you how to navigate the sub modular mark screens on the tutor card, click https://www.screencast.com/t/sKCH4czjJ

To view a screencast that shows you how to navigate the Module Convenor Screens that are now also live, click http://www.screencast.com/t/MjCxE6UxfM

For further information on the EMA Programme, please click http://www.reading.ac.uk/ema/

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