Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Ideas for interactive meetings

Ten suggestions for Personal Tutors in running lively and useful group meetings.

  1. Think about what outcomes you want and how you can help your students to achieve them. Work out a plan with timings and share it with students.
  2. Get started: the sooner students are working together on tasks the better.
  3. A good first task is to help students to articulate what they want from the session. Make it clear if what they are looking for is beyond the scope of the group meeting.
  4. Give students time to think and practice responding to questions in pairs or small groups, and then invite them to feed back in the whole group.
  5. Explain what you are trying to achieve, but avoid long introductory monologues. If necessary, ask students to complete a task and explain why afterwards.
  6. State explicitly that group meetings are different from information sessions or formal lectures. Move the furniture so that students are sitting round small tables and can see and hear each other.
  7. After an unfamiliar activity, ask students ‘What was that like? What did you learn? What was helpful? What got in the way?’ This will provide you with useful feedback for future sessions.
  8. Give clear instructions. ‘Now please, stand up, look round the room and go and stand next to someone you haven’t spoken to yet.'
  9. After an exploratory activity, in which lots of different ideas and experiences have been discussed, it can be helpful to draw things together with a short summary: “So the group has come up with three main points: x, y and z.”
  10. After each meeting, reflect on what happened. Discuss with colleagues and students and plan for the next meeting.