Student-to-Tutor Ratio: a thought about the ideal model

university students

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Danielle Correia Furtado, a second year medical student from UERN, in Mossoró – Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


As far as education is concerned, it is known that there is a difference in education over the time. In the old communities, the “students” learned techniques aimed at survival, such as hunting and planting, there was no specific institution for education: it took place in contact with their group or tribe, and so it was passed on between generations, mainly by orality. Currently, however, the way of teaching has changed, we have environments focused on education, such as educational centers, in which oral resources are combined with writings, and there is one person, the tutor, who dominates the subject and passes it on and those who they look for what is being passed on, the student.

Although time has passed between these two models of knowledge, it cannot be said that the ideal has been achieved, as education still faces many problems, especially in the student to tutor radio. The school environment and its teaching mechanism brought an educational distance between student and tutor, because in the traditional model there is a formality in this environment. The student assumes a passive role, of just absorbing what is being passed and the tutor the active side, which dominates knowledge. In this way, there is no collaborative exchange of construction of this knowledge, being less effective, because it is assumed that teaching and learning are inseparable, that is, teaching is a necessary condition for learning.

Some teaching centers have already realized that this traditional model of passive student/active tutor is not the best form of learning and have shown different techniques that show positive results, such as Problem Based Learning (PBL), Team Based Leraning (TBL) , Peer-assisted learning (PAL). These teaching innovations seek to break with a teacher-centered process and the retention of information by students through memorization that leads to a passive student with a narrow sense of reality. Thus, both in PBL, TBL and PAL, learning happens all the time, not necessarily through books and lectures, but also during other activities, such as conversations, films, documentaries. The student gains autonomy to express his opinion about a certain subject and allows the tutor to act as a guide in the learning process, helping him to expand his knowledge, since learning is a personal construction, the result of an experiential, specific process for each person.

Thus, to achieve the optimal one in the nowadays teaching settings, the student must be challenged to seek the answers and develop the skills necessary for the exercise of the profession, to be active in their learning, it is also essential that the tutor assists the student in a systematic and collaborative way in questions about the course, in the motivation for the studies and in the monitoring of the teaching-learning process, collaborating in order to humanize and assist the student in the development of his study autonomy.

About the author

Danielle Correia Furtado is a second year medical student from UERN, in Mossoró – Brazil. She has been part of IFMSA since the beginning of the year. She is vice-president of the Academic League of Diabetes and Hypertension (LADHA) and Monitor of the subject of Medical Genetics, due to these positions, she is always keeping herself informed about the student-tutor relations in order to improve the way of convey knowledge. She loves the Education History and different forms of learning.

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