Tutorials/discussion classes are seen as an essential part of the teaching mix in the natural sciences, because that is where problems can be solved and course content is applied. Learning support provided by teaching assistants may free up the lecturer to do research, but are these assistants sufficiently well trained and well informed? Do tutorials offer learning spaces or merely activities to engage the willing student? In this paper I report on a study conducted in a science faculty of a research intensive university in South Africa. I collected data using interviews and questionnaires which gave insight into the many variants of tutor/teaching assistant support that exist in the faculty. Practices that seem to lead to better student learning were also foregrounded. It became evident that lecturers need to plan their tutorials as an integral part of the learning space and not as an add-on activity.