The origin of the word ‘tutor’ is found in the Latin verb ‘intueri’, which, on the one hand, has the meaning of ‘looking, contemplating’ and, on the other, the meaning of ‘protecting’. Evidently, it is from this second meaning that the term ‘tutor’ originated, as in mediaeval Catalan there is already documented use of the forms ‘tudor'/ ‘tudriu’ ―applicable both to the area of the law and to the area of education ― with the meaning of ‘person responsible for somebody's protection’. Nowadays, the forms ‘tudor'/ ‘tudriu’ have been replaced with the word ‘tutor’. The sense, however, of these words remains the same, although in the university world, due to the massification of higher education, the figure and function of the tutor have unfortunately, after so many knocks and blow, fallen into oblivion to become almost an archaism.
Now, at a time when, at least in arts faculties, education is not only not as massified, but new forms of teaching and communication between students and teachers are appearing, it is the ideal moment to restore this archaic figure and the function of the ‘tutor’ to provide a more human, academic, professional education for the students of our faculties and, more specifically, for the students of the Faculty of Arts of the UdG. At a time when arts faculties, and in fact the very concept of arts degrees, are being profoundly rethought, the activity of tutorials must be reinvigorated to improve student participation in university life, to quickly detect and resolve possible problems and hiccups that appear in the development of academic activities, to integrate students into research and investigation and, obviously, to facilitate student entry into the labour market.
This Tutorial Action Plan (PAT), then, aims to coordinate all the actions undertaken from the Faculty of Arts directed at giving bachelor's degree students maximum support during their stay at University, so that they can complete their studies successfully. At the Faculty level, PAT is complemented with the specific Tutorial Action documents produced by each of the masters degrees taught, which take the needs of their students into account. We do not include in this document the actions of promotion, diffusion and information for potential students because these are included in the Faculty’s Plan of Actions to attract new students; likewise, actions related to professional guidance and subjects of mobility and external placements, which have their own documents and established procedures, are not included. The writing and approval of this PAT complies with one of the improvement objectives we proposed as a result of the accreditation process of Faculty of Arts degrees (IAI/16/22) and of the approval of the subsequent Improvement Plan, a process that concluded on 22 June 2016.
2. Actions of the tutorial action plan
2.1. First-year student guidance
Welcome and orientation for first-year students is structured into two specific moments:
2.1.a. Enrolment (July and end of September)
On the day designated for first-year students’ enrolment, be it in the July call or the September call, they are all invited to an informative session that takes place in the Lecture Room of the Faculty. In this session they are received by the Dean, and then the academic Secretary explains the steps to follow to enrol correctly. They are reminded that before enrolling they must talk to a coordinator of studies, who will attend to them in their office. Normally we conduct two of these sessions to be able to distribute the students more comfortably and to make the formal procedures easier and quicker.
Enrolment is then carried out in situ, with the advice of the staff of the Academic Secretary's Office.
2.1.b. Welcome day for first-year students
The first day of the academic year is a Welcome Day for first-year students.First, they are received by the Dean and the office of the Dean, who greet them and welcome them to the Faculty. Students are then distributed according to the different degrees and they go to a classroom with their respective coordinators; there they receive some introductory sessions about different aspects of their respective degrees. The content of these sessions can vary depending on the study area, but they always include a presentation of how the University, the Faculty and its governing organs function; a fairly detailed presentation of the curriculum they will follow, making special mention of the elective subjects, placements and the bachelor's thesis; an explanation about the opportunities for national and international mobility and the need for the third language to do this; the requirement that from the academic year 2017/18 a third language is compulsory to obtain the bachelor's degree, according to UdG regulations; and finally, an explanation about the basic administrative procedures they must know. The Day finishes with a breakfast and a guided visit around the facilities with the coordinator or of a fourth-year student.
The Day is organised by the Office of the Vice-Dean of Academic Regulations together with the Coordinators of the degrees.
2.2. Tutoring during the degree
Remember that before enrolling on the different subjects, students have the website at their disposal with all the respective subject files, which provide all the educational information of interest they need about the subjects.
Throughout their degree, students will find two different types of tutorage, one with the coordinators of the studies, and the other with the teaching staff of the different subjects:
2.2.a. The coordinators of the degrees are responsible for attending to students for consultations or questions related to the development of their academic studies. This monitoring is done at an individual level, helping with any problems or specific questions, and at a collective level, through periodic meetings between the coordinators and the representatives of the various years of the academic degrees, or with all the students of a specific academic year, if necessary. These meetings are not programmed at fixed intervals, but they take place at least once every academic year.
2.2.B. All the teachers have a timetable for attending to students; the Departments are responsible for publicly announcing these timetables. However, the small size of our Faculty allows for very close student-teacher contact and makes it notably easier to find spaces for informal meetings and tutorials beyond the established timetables. Moreover, all students have the emails of the teaching staff and they can get in touch by this means, if necessary; they can also contact teachers through the Moodle messaging service of the various subjects.
Apart from these two essential tutorage tools, all students can meet together when required and by previous appointment with the Office of the Vice-Dean of Students; the same Office of the Vice-Dean also organises periodic meetings with the representatives of the degrees (2 per year) and others sectors, if necessary, depending on the matter at hand (for example, the organisation of the graduation ceremony).
At least one informative session is also organised each academic year about the mobility programmes. The students can also meet with the people who coordinate these programmes (Vice-dean of Students or other responsible party), by previous appointment.
For specific consultations about Academic Management issues, students can address the Academic Secretary's Office at the indicated times.
2.3. Tutoring the Bachelor's Thesis (TFG)
To guarantee that students finish their TFG in the specified periods and to improve the overall quality, the Faculty of Arts has a TFG monitoring protocol that was put into operation during the academic year 2014-15. The protocol is regulated by the internal Regulations organising the Bachelor's and Master's Theses of the Faculty of Arts, approved by the Government Commission on 20 May 2014. This protocol, which is updated annually, sets out the calendar to complete the TFG, in addition to the number of meetings tutors and students must have. A minimum of three meetings take place between tutor and student, distributed throughout the academic year. At these meetings the required documents (Work Plan, Monitoring Sheet and Defence Authorisation) will be filled in, which also guarantee student supervision while they are doing the thesis, as well as a survey to evaluate the process of doing the TFG and the usefulness of the protocol.
The protocol also obligatorily includes a training session on researching information in the Library, which guarantees student training in this area aimed at the qualitative improvement of their projects. From the academic year 2016/17, the training session on looking for bibliographic information was made mandatory for second-year students, so since then the session for the students enrolled on the TFG has been much more practical in nature.
The protocol is available on the Faculty website, and also on the Moodle of the “Bachelor's thesis” subjects for each study area. For all studies, moreover, there will be informative sessions given by the coordinators about the TFG for the students enrolled at the beginning of every academic year.
2.4. Placement tutoring
Since the academic year 2017/18, all the degrees in the Faculty offer the chance to do placements as a compulsory or an elective subject. These placements will be regulated by a specific protocol that will be applied in the tutorage and monitoring sessions.
2.5. The university's other specialised services
The University of Girona also provides a series of services that offer students individualised attention about different aspects that are to their interest:
2.6. Professional guidance
We are currently drafting a document that includes all the actions carried out from the Faculty to guarantee the careers guidance and professional labour market insertion of our graduates. Every year the office of the Dean organises a Professional Guidance Day at the end of April, which consists of two parts: a meeting with external professionals who are ex-students of the Faculty who inform students of possible work opportunities, and an informative session about the master’s degrees the Faculty offers.
From time to time, the Faculty itself or at times coordinated with the University-Company Office, also offer training activities specifically about looking for jobs, writing CVs, and so on.
2.7. Specific tutoring plans for degrees
For several years, some of the degrees in the Faculty (especially Geography, Territorial Organisation and Management of the environment) have their own Tutorial Plan, which complements the actions described in the PAT of the Faculty. We consider that the tutorial action plans for the specific degree studies must be encouraged, provided they are compatible with the general lines set out in the PAT and do not contradict any of the measures. The specific Tutorial Action Plans for the different degrees must be approved, if necessary, by the Government Commission.
3. PAT appraisal
To evaluate the usefulness of the tutorage actions described above, the Deanship drafts and distributes several student surveys related to some of the actions developed:
- Welcome day
- Professional guidance day
These surveys are administered to students in person at the end of each activity.
Moreover, from the GPA and in accordance with the SGIQ of the UdG, student surveys on different aspects of the teaching which also include questions about the tutorial action of the teachers are administered every six months. This survey is administered via the website through a specific application designed and managed by the UdG.
The results of the surveys are analysed to be evaluated in the corresponding Monitoring and Self-accreditation Reports