Dr Mem Mahmut is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology. In 2020 he was nominated by his tutors for the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences ‘Teaching Mentor Award’. Being nominated by his Tutors as a great mentor is wonderful recognition of the respect and esteem Mem is held in by PSYU1104 Introduction to Psychology I Tutors and affirmation of the significant contribution he is making to improving the quality of learning and teaching within the Department of Psychology.
It can be challenging at times to deal with a cohort of (currently) 3000 students. The sheer scale of the delivery of this first year undergraduate Psychology unit (currently 96 tutorials per week) creates unique challenges and opportunities. Mem and Melissa Norberg originally designed and implemented a Tutor mentor program in 2014 to support new Tutors on Introduction to Psychology I or II and ensure consistency of quality teaching across the large unit. Alissa Beath joined the mentoring team in 2017.
How the Tutor Mentor Program is structured
In the tutor mentoring program, the delivery and style of mentoring is one of support, understanding and gentle but directed communication, coaching and reflection. Mem offers all first-time and experienced tutors a spot in the mentor program. During the program, he films and reviews two tutorials delivered by Tutors; one at the start of the session and one at the end. The visual and written performance feedback that Tutors receive from this mentor program is regarded as highly valuable to them (see the quote below). The program is facilitated by two unit convenors so mentees receive twice the amount of feedback and support.
Initially, I was quite nervous about being part of a program where my performance would be critiqued. Mem is an active listener, which encouraged me to share and reflect on my tutoring skills and developing abilities. I appreciated the time I was given to problem solve tutoring challenges out loud. When identifying development areas Mem talked through practical strategies I could use to improve. Importantly, we also talked through what the application of these techniques would look like in the classroom, making it easy for me to feel confident to effectively apply these techniques inside the classroom. Since completing the mentoring program, my TED evaluations across all my units have improved and I feel much more confident as a tutor.
Leah Dudley, PSYU1104 Tutor
The impact of the Tutor Mentor program on tutors
Based on the evaluations Mem and his mentor-colleagues have received, the Tutor Mentor program provides practical advice on class management, a boost in the tutors’ confidence to answer complex questions, and strategies to deliver content in various ways to maximise student learning.
Despite his research and convening duties, (Mem) took a genuine interest in helping me to develop into a first-rate University tutor from scratch. In fostering a relaxed and supportive work environment, relatively few mistakes get made and he is always on hand to help if they do. I know what is expected of me in my role and I feel comfortable reaching out to him if any uncertainties arise. My confidence has grown exponentially since I began tutoring on PSYU1104, and Mem’s capacity to lead has contributed significantly to that. He instills confidence in his tutors, who in turn feel motivated to instill confidence in our students.
Brittany Cullen, PSYU1104 Tutor
Why the Tutor Mentor program will continue
Mem, Melissa and Alissa have been offering the program since 2014 and receive a great deal of professional satisfaction from supporting young tutors in developing their teaching capabilities.
The team also offers a tutoring tips “workshop” at the start of each session, which was developed in collaboration with one of the tutors.
Mem appears to embody the three attributes/characteristics of quality mentorship that enable growth in mentees:
- Consultant – trusted adviser
- Counselor – to listen and support
- Cheerleader – to applaud and encourage progress and growth
Mentoring is as much about counseling as it is transferring knowledge and leadership skills. The peer nominations testify to the positive role model aspect that Mem plays in improving the confidence and capability of his Tutors. Mem makes himself available for consultation, coaching and reflection.