Tutorial

Tutorial

[too-tawr-ee-uhl, -tohr-, tyoo-]

Academia

In British academic parlance, a tutorial is a small class of one, or only a few, students, in which the tutor (a lecturer or other academic staff member) gives individual attention to the students. The tutorial system at Oxford and Cambridge is fundamental to methods of teaching at those universities, but it is by no means peculiar to them (although it is rare for newer universities in the UK to have the resources to offer individual tuition--six to eight students is a far more common tutorial size). At Cambridge, a tutorial is known as a supervision.

In some Canadian universities, such as York University or the University of Toronto, a tutorial refers to something more like a recitation in an American university, that is, a class of between 12-18 students that is supplemental to a large lecture course, which gives students the opportunity to discuss the lectures and/or additional readings in smaller groups. These tutorials are often led by graduate students, normally known as "Teaching Assistants" (TAs), though it is not unknown for the primary instructor of a course, even if a full professor, to take a tutorial. At Princeton University, these tutorials are known as preceptorials and are led by preceptors. Woodrow Wilson developed the preceptorial system, intending it to be the main form of teaching. However, preceptorials now largely occupy a role that is secondary to traditional lecturing.

In Australian and New Zealand universities, a tutorial (colloquially called a tute) is a class of 10–30 students. Such tutorials are very similar to the Canadian system, although tutorials can occasionally be led by honours or postgraduate students, known as 'tutors'.

At the two campuses of St. John's College, U.S. and a few other American colleges with a similar version of the Great Books program, a "tutorial" is a class of 12 - 16 students who meet regularly with the guidance of a tutor. The tutorial focuses on a certain subject area (e.g. mathematics tutorial, language tutorial) and generally proceeds with careful reading of selected primary texts and working through associated exercises (e.g., demonstrating a Euclid proof or translating ancient Greek poetry). Since formal lectures do not play a large part in the St. John's College curriculum, the tutorial is the primary method by which certain subjects are studied. However, at St. John's the tutorial is considered ancillary to the seminar, in which a slightly larger group of students meets with two tutors for broader discussion of the particular texts on the seminar list.

Internet

Internet computer tutorials can take the form of a screen recording, a written document (either online or downloadable), or an audio file, where a person will give step by step instructions on how to do something.

Tutorials usually have the following characteristics:

  • A presentation of content, usually with an example or examples, often broken up into discrete modules or sections.
  • Some method of review that reinforces or tests understanding of the content in the related module or section.
  • A transition to additional modules or sections that builds on the instructions already provided. Tutorials can be linear or branching.

While many writers refer to a mere list of instructions or tips as a tutorial, this usage can be misleading.

Computer based tutoring

In computer based education, a tutorial is a computer program whose purpose it is to assist users in learning how to use (parts of) a software product such as an office suite or any other application, operating system interface, programming tool, or game. There are two kinds of software tutorials: movie tutorials that you watch, and interactive tutorials where you follow on-screen instructions (and in some cases watch short instruction movies), whereupon you do the tutorial exercises and get feedback depending on your actions. Some computer based tutorials can also be put up on the web.

See also

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