Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Managing individual meetings

General guidance for Personal Tutors on running successful individual meetings; includes advice on agenda setting, listening skills, summarising and clarifying, and setting agreed actions.

  1. Try to put yourself in your student’s shoes. Think carefully about your posture and facial expressions. What messages are you giving? How can you make the student feel welcome? How can you demonstrate that you are interested in what s/he has to say?
  2. At the first meeting tell the student what s/he can expect from you in your role of Personal Tutor, and what you expect of her or him.
  3. At the beginning of each meeting give your understanding of the purpose and say how much time you can offer. Find out what the student is expecting and state clearly if what s/he is looking for is appropriate for a Personal Tutor meeting.
  4. Agree an agenda together.
  5. Be clear who will keep a record, how and where.
  6. Ask open questions that encourage the student to give full responses. For example ‘What are you finding interesting in your course?’ will elicit more than ‘Is your course interesting?’
  7. Listen carefully without interrupting. It can be helpful to reflect back what you think the student has said to you. This shows that you are listening and gives you the chance to check that you have understood. ‘So what you’re saying is…?’ ‘It sounds as if…..?’
  8. It can be helpful to acknowledge feelings. ‘You seem disappointed.’ ‘I can see that this is upsetting for you.’
  9. At the end, it can be helpful to draw things together with a short summary and a statement of any actions for you or your student.
  10. After each meeting, take a few moments to reflect on what happened. Build in review sessions so that both you and your student can give feedback on what seems to be working in the Personal Tutor relationship and where changes need to be made.