Practice and theory: mixing labs and small group tutorials

Petra Leimich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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While appropriate for practical topics like SQL, our traditional format of lecture and lab fails to facilitate the discussion of more theoretical database topics with students. This paper describes and analyses the method and effects of adopting a more flexible approach with third year and postgraduate students. Some weeks use supervised labs while in others tutorials are held in seminar rooms, in smaller groups, without the distraction of computers. Requiring tutorials to be prepared in advance allows time to be used effectively, concentrating on more difficult aspects.

Initial results, presented in this paper, are encouraging. Many students enjoy tutorials and exam performance has improved dramatically for some. However, as many as 25% of undergraduate students failed to attend a single tutorial, and many of those who did attend came unprepared. Could, and should, this be changed by explicitly assessing tutorials? The paper concludes by investigating approaches reported elsewhere in order to ascertain how the management of tutorials could be improved.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHEA Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Databases (TLAD 04) Proceedings
Place of PublicationNewtownabbey
PublisherHigher Education Academy
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Teaching
  • Learning
  • Delivery
  • Syllabus


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