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The benefits of good tutor-student relationships in the first year


Teacher-student relationships (TSR) are an important influence on the student experience at university. Existing research, predominantly with lecturers, highlights that these relationships have academic and affective dimensions. Studies demonstrate good TSR increase student motivation, engagement, and learning. The current study adds a student voice to this topic, focussing on their views of tutoring staff, who undertake much of the face-to-face teaching in universities. The qualitative study followed 19 students through their first year at an Australian university. The students identified four characteristics of a ‘good’ tutor: helpful, caring, likeable, and hands-on. Students talked about multiple benefits of having a good tutor including increased help-seeking, studying harder, more interest in class, and improved well-being and belonging. The importance of the tutor role is underestimated and institutions would do well to better support these valuable staff.

Published: 2019-08-09
Pages:23 to 33
How to Cite
Kahu, E. R., & Picton, C. (2019). The benefits of good tutor-student relationships in the first year. Student Success, 10(2), 23-33.

Author Biographies

Massey University
New Zealand New Zealand

Ella is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand. Her research is in social psychology, in particular researching and theorising on student engagement in higher education. She is passionate about teaching first year students and currently teaches a first year distance course on identity and citizenship.

University of the Sunshine Coast
Australia Australia

Cat is a researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her research is in the experiences of students at university, with a particular focus on student voice. With a background in education, she has broader research interests in education, equity, and Pacific policy development.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795