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University of Silesia in Katowice

Doctoral School

Expert tutoring

In their second, third and fourth semester of education at the Doctoral School, doctoral students have the opportunity to work with an academic teacher of their choice in the form of tutoring. The aim of such meetings is to support the student at a particular stage of preparing their doctoral thesis. The choice of a tutor for a given semester is the student’s task, in which the supervisor may (and ought to) assist them.

What does expert tutoring at the Doctoral School consist of? What does expert tutoring at the Doctoral School consist of?

Academic tutoring is a form of individual work in which a doctoral student and a tutor work together investigating a subject of the doctoral student’s interest. It is the student who has initiative and describes the scope of knowledge or skills they wish to acquire, while the tutor suggests a form of achieving it. They plan the consecutive stages of their work and its schedule together, which is what the first meeting is devoted to.

The process of seeking knowledge is of utmost importance in working with a tutor. This is why the work ought to be meticulously planned. Both parties ought to be aware of the aim of the meetings and the means to reach it.

Work with a tutor is to take 10 teaching hours per semester. This means that, depending on their needs and the nature of their work, the tutor and the student ought to meet at least 5 times. What happens between the meetings is a very important element of this method. Each meeting ought to conclude certain work which was planned during the previous one. Sometimes all the meetings can be planned at the outset and sometimes they must be planned on a meeting-to-meeting basis, which depends on the method applied and on the subject.

The tutor and the doctoral student have far-reaching discretion in planning the process and form of work. The typical procedure is that, after recognising the doctoral student’s needs, the tutor assigns them a task, suggests (or, when aiming for more independence, does not suggest) literature and sets a deadline. In classical tutoring (originally implemented at Oxford University), the student’s task is to write academic essays on a given subject. The form of such an essay, as opposed to these of a school essay or a scientific paper, allows more freedom and requires augmenting information with a personal element, be it opinion or one’s own theses. Thus, not only does the doctoral student absorb certain knowledge in a passive manner, but they also need to make intellectual effort in processing the knowledge for further use, e.g. adjusting it to their needs. Experience shows that such a method is effective in humanities and social sciences as well as in exact and natural sciences. The final decision as to its shape, however, remains at the tutor and student’s discretion. It can just as well be  laboratory work to do, solving a problem or preparing a project. Nonetheless, it is important that, inasmuch as possible, the effect observed shows the doctoral student’s individual input related to their doctoral plans.

What is the aim of tutoring? What is the aim of tutoring?

A doctoral student, determined to develop in a particular area, finds an expert who will help them gain the necessary knowledge or skills. It is an excellent occasion to acquire competences which the supervisor is incapable of teaching, e.g. related to a different scientific discipline. This is why it might be advisable to choose a tutor from outside one’s own institute, providing such a need does arise. Work with a tutor is supposed to be a stage of working on one’s doctoral thesis. If, in the process of planning research, the doctoral student and the supervisor face a problem difficult for them to solve, it might be the very moment in which one should seek tutoring.

A tutor may work with a doctoral student in any scope, including methodology, laboratory work or introducing interdisciplinary aspects into the student’s work.

Who can be a tutor? Who can be a tutor?

A tutor might be any academic with a degree no lower than a doctoral degree, employed at the University of Silesia and agreeing for such cooperation. If the university does not employ any expert in a field the doctoral student needs to work in, the conditions of doctoral degree and employment do not have to be observed. Working with an external tutor must be approved by the dean of the Doctoral School.

The supervisor may and ought to participate in the choice of a supervisor.

The University of Silesia has a large group of academics who have already worked as tutors, be it with the students of the College of Interdisciplinary Individual Studies or in programmes such as Tutoring for the University’s best students. Abundant information about them (including a list of tutors in biological sciences) can be found here tutor.us.edu.pl.

Formalities overview Formalities overview

Aim: individual expert support in the preparation of a doctoral thesis

USOS code: 20-SD-S3-TUT1 (-TUT2, -TUT3)

Hours per semester: 10

ECTS: 2 (per semester)

Schedule: individually agreed by the tutor and the doctoral student, reported to be included in the student’s individual and optional classes schedule

Credit granted for: criteria individually agreed by the tutor and the doctoral student

After completed work, the tutor writes a short (1 page) report on the course, informing about the topic of tutoring, issues raised, the course and achieved results. It may also include a short opinion about the PhD student. The report should be sent to szkola.doktorska@us.edu.pl in a text or pdf file. The report is the basis for the settlement of classes and will also be presented to the doctoral student’s evaluation committee.

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