Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement

Personal Tutor Handbook - Student Support Services

Academic Skills Unit (ASK)

Student support set up for lifeStudents arrive at university with greater or lesser degrees of preparedness for university study. ASK is open to all students at the university and provides one-to-one tutorials in academic writing, note making, time management, critical thinking, presentation skills, referencing, working in groups, revision, memory and exam techniques.  Some students face multiple challenges, particularly in the period of transition from school, college or adult life and an early referral to ASK can help retain and support students until they find their feet.  ASK offers students a series of individually tailored tutorials, generic workshops and resources to meet their needs.  

       ASK works by reinforcing strengths, identifying individual skills gaps and always encourages students to become successful, independent learners.  Some students are keen to improve their grades and ASK will work with them to hone particular skills such as proofreading or constructing an academic argument and in overcoming a particular problem such as writer’s block in exams.  Similarly, ASK welcomes high achieving students with strong academic backgrounds who wish to work on residual academic skills issues that have been highlighted in feedback. Second and third year students can attend a review tutorial at the beginning of the academic year to revisit their feedback from the previous year.

       There may be individual students about whom you are concerned, but are uncertain how to help.  If you refer the student to ASK, they will be offered a diagnostic assessment interview and referred on to ASDAC or Counselling, as appropriate.  Get in touch with ASK if there are issues that you think all your students need to address. ASK lecturers can work with you to develop new teaching and learning materials or recommend workshops or resources. The ASK workshop programme, which is aligned with the academic life cycle, is specifically aimed at first year students and at those students who prefer to work in groups. ASK also produce a range of paper-based handouts and a wide range of electronic resources are available in skills@portsmouth moodle and victory units to which all staff and students have access.  

       Finally, ASK tutorials are confidential and consensual. ASK lecturers will only discuss a student’s progress with you with the student’s permission.  Similarly, although you may recommend that students visit ASK, students will need to make their own appointment.

There are also learning support tutors who are faculty-based and students can drop in and make appointments for help with academic skills issues to do with particular assignments. It will be useful to get to know the learning support tutors in your faculty and to direct students to them, as appropriate.