An exploratory study of students' perceptions of the benefits of regular small group tutorials in a 2-year day release course


Helen Ashton, Bath and Swindon College of Health Studies Bath and Wessex House, Royal United Hospital, Combe Park Bath, Avon BA1 3NG England


This study was undertaken with the intention of improving the effectiveness of small group tutorials in a diploma in nursing course There was concern to avoid some of the less valuable aspects of tutorials highlighted in the literature An investigation was conducted to elicit students’ perceptions of the benefits of group tutorials at a comparatively early stage in their 2-year course, at the end of the second term A qualitative approach was taken to explore the views of four students through individual semi-structured interviews Additional data were gathered through personal field notes to add the tutor's perspective of the group process Data were analysed inductively using a phenomenological approach in an attempt to elucidate the essence of each participant's experience of the tutorials While the findings suggested that students valued their involvement in small group tutorials, some questions were raised which point to the need for further investigation Themes were revealed which drew attention to the value students place on the experience of small group tutorials, thus endorsing the strategies employed Benefits to students include the opportunity to get to know a small group of people when part of a larger learning group, support when coping with the pressures of course work and being able to share ideas about issues relevant to nursing The report concludes that there is scope for further investigation and reflection in order to develop educational practice