Tutor Credentials

Hi Tamra:

I have suggestion regarding AU tutors and I will also give you a background for why I am asking this.

I have recently registered in my 3rd AU course and as usual I received a welcome letter from my tutor. What I found different in that letter was, she not only welcomed me and gave me the contact times but most importantly she gave me her educational and work experience overview. Previously, none of the tutors gave me any information about their educational and work background. It was my first experience with online university, so I didn’t know who the tutors were until I read the article about AU tutors in The Voice.

Usually in conventional universities we have TA’s – Teacher Assistants which are most of the time current graduate students. I had the same image about tutors too.

So, its good to know that “your tutors are persons with educational and strong work experience.” I wonder if it is possible for all tutors to give us this type of information. I remember asking my previous tutor, was he a teacher at AU or a student? I guess my question made him little embarrassed and uneasy, He asked me if I was having any trouble following him. My answer was, “no, just curious.” 🙂

Zil-E-Huma Lodhi

This letter is definitely food for thought!

I guess I was lucky, because my very first tutor sent me a letter detailing her work experience, and it turned out that she was also a professor at another university. So, I was quite well aware of the credentials of AU tutors. If I had not received this letter, I’m not sure what I would have thought. Your assumption that Tutors are like teaching assistants is a logical one. In a traditional university the instructors who have the time to talk to students one-on-one are usually TA’s. It does not help that AU instructors are called ‘tutors’, which implies a lack of credentials [You can read my thoughts on this from a previous Voice issue here (http://www.ausu.org/voice/search/searchdisplay.php?ART=104) if you like. I heard that my article was printed and handed around at a tutor conference, so it’s not only students who have this concern], and the course materials often make reference to a nameless ‘course professor’, which further supports the idea that tutors are nothing like professors.

I’m sure your tutor was pretty irked when you asked if he was a student, but maybe you weren’t the first one to ask!

The thing is, AU offers something that you can’t get at most schools – significant one-on-one support from qualified and experienced university instructors – many of whom are full professors (I believe that the courses which use Call Center support instead of tutors are the exception). For all the time AU spends advertising its other benefits, such as flexible enrolment and that books are included with course fees, they have not done much to tell people about their terrific academic support. It seems foolish to pay to hire qualified professionals and then allow people to harbour the misconception that they are talking with TA’s.

You are not the first to express surprise at your tutor’s credentials, and I’m sure you won’t be the last. Your letter might be good incentive for all tutors to make their introductory letters a little more informative!