Tutors are individuals. Different tutors will give support and guidance in different ways.
This can be an advantage; different tutors can be allocated to different learners according to their character and needs. But marking, particularly if it counts towards a final qualification, needs to be consistent. If there is more than one tutor in a provision, there is also a need to ensure that different tutors mark to the same standard.
Broadly speaking, there are two ways this can be achieved: contact between tutors, and monitoring of tutors' work.
Informal monitoring can be achieved in a variety of ways. Some providers route marked assignments through a central point. Whilst this adds a time delay to the return of TMAs, it also allows tutors' marks and comments to be monitored centrally. Alternatively, samples of tutor marking can be collected on an occasional basis for checking.
Informal monitoring can spot problems, and reassure learners and tutors alike. But it does not offer real safeguards. If such safeguards are needed, sampling should be put on a more formal basis. A formula could be adopted which specifies which assignments are to be checked. Checking can be by simple perusal of marking and comments, or by more formal processes such as double marking (which needs to be set up before the first marking takes place).
Facilitating contact between tutors approaches the issue from the opposite direction: trying to develop a shared culture of tutor support so that all tutors will mark to the same level.
Sharing information between tutors can either be led from the centre, or allowed to happen within the tutor cohort without central guidance. Contact can be by letter or newsletter, through regular meetings, dedicated bulletin boards or chat rooms, or simply by encouraging direct tutor to tutor contact. Small groups of tutors can be co-ordinated from the centre; larger groups usefully split into smaller sub-groups, each with its own tutor co-ordinator.
Tutor groups can act as quality circles. Individual tutors can be invited to bring specific issues or problems, or suggested ideas or exemplars of good practice, along for discussion. Issues may be real, or hypothetical.
Tutors need encouragement as much as distance learners. Incentive schemes can be used. Part of the co-ordinator's role might be to identify examples of good practice and publicise them within the group.
Learner achievement data can be sorted by tutor, to identify which tutors are producing the most successful learners.
© ODLQC 1st March 2018