Peer mentors from across the University gathered at the Lindisfarne Room on Monday 26 November 2018 to celebrate another successful year of the peer mentoring scheme.
Peer Mentors and Staff Coordinators were invited to this celebration as a thank you from the University following another excellent start to the academic year with new students being supported and encouraged as they started their journey on their chosen programme of study and made the transition into Higher Education. These students (the mentees) were invited to provide their opinion of the scheme and to share the many benefits they had experienced as a result of having a peer mentor:
“Explained clearly what it was like from a student perspective and what I should expect to know and learn and how to do so.”
We are looking to introduce further pilot schemes in regards to PGT buddy/mentoring within the University.
An email invitation was sent to Senior Tutors and Peer Mentoring staff coordinators to volunteer to join a Task and Finish Group to consider the best way forward regarding the launching of these pilots. If anyone would like to become a member of this group please contact Tony Chapman-Wilson, the University Peer Mentoring Coordinator for further details at Tony.Chapman-Wilson@Newcastle.ac.uk.
Workshop : Academic advising for taught postgraduate students: an exploratory study
Jane Fearon, Alison McCamley and Anna Wawera – Sheffield Hallam University
There had been an institution consideration of how little was done at PGT level. A small exploratory study with students interviewing other students on transition to create some scaffold for PGT support was run.
Workshop: Student Mentoring and Peer Learning – Gavin Jinks – University of Derby
Why they ran the pilot scheme: Sometimes students feel more comfortable asking their peers for advice; the reality of students sharing their experience ‘been there, seen it, done it’’; to increase level and type of support for year 1 students.
Recruiting of mentors: In the first year of the project Jinks approached 5 students with high levels of academic achievement. In the second year of the project Jinks saw a need for more mentors and also saw that academic achievement should not be the only criteria. This would allow for stretch and challenge, as well as supporting students with potential, allowing for more student engagement in the programme. As a result Jinks approached 16 from the year 1 to be mentors.
What they did: Set up a Facebook group for networking and interaction; Induction activities planned and run; choose friendship and study groups; running study skills sessions; providing information and support on looking after yourself in the programme; managing relationships at home and outside the programme; an insider’s guide to lecturers and tutors; information on assessed practice placements. They would like to look at team building for future years. All the sessions and activities were created by the actual mentors, as well as being run by them. Mentors ran student rep elections. Mentors facilitate study groups.
Keynote: The case for collaborative care – Brett McFarlane University of California – Davis
This discussed what is the true meaning of student success (is this retention rates or individual achievement), and how there should be Collaboration – work jointly on an activity or project; and Care – a provision of what is necessary; as well as considered attention and consideration to avoid damage or risk.
True collaboration: is based on shared ownership and vision, as well as shared resources. This should be based on the goals and outcomes of what the student wants to achieve – ‘theirs’ rather than the ‘institutional’ goals and outcomes allowing graduates to be happy with their experience. This will also support the improvement of social mobility and the achievement gap.
Research tells us: that relationships matter; that the frequency of advising matters – with the aim of improved satisfaction and learning; students need ‘cultural navigators’ – hidden curriculum, advice on who to see for what, the avoidance of assumption of what students ‘might’ or ‘should’ know, to enlighten students; and the connections with learning .
Barriers: These include a lack of agreement in what student success means; that nobody wants to ‘own’ student success; there is a failure to utilise prior research and literature; some institutions have a lack of formal training structures; and that there are some disaggregated and outdated technology systems
Moving forward: There is a need to consider process mapping in regards to what does the student actually need; some work is needed with function mapping and the definition of the staff involved and what their role is in the process; there is a need for a single shared communication structure to clearly articulate the student journey for ‘all’ to access; an obvious need for collaborative goals and outcomes that benefit the student, and in the long term the institution. We need to focus on building trust, involving students, and to celebrate success. Continue reading UKAT Annual Conference – Blog 1 – Keynote Speaker→
Peer parenting, or mentoring, inductions have taken place across campus.
The university’s mentoring scheme is gearing up for another busy year of supporting first year students through the first term of University here at Newcastle.
The scheme involves recruiting second year students to act as mentors, or parents, to first years offering advice on academic work as well as on other aspects of University experience.
In the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (APL), Caroline Armstrong, Student Recruitment and Wellbeing Manager, organises the scheme, and the new “families” are all set for the new year.
Caroline said: ‘We call them parents in this school, rather than mentors.
‘We’ve been doing this for years now.
‘I just think that it’s such a good way of helping students to settle in.
‘I pick out the groups as soon as the firm offers are confirmed and students are contacted before they start by their new university “parents”.’
Caroline thinks the scheme is invaluable for new students in the School.
‘Just having someone there, who was in your position last year, to say “it gets better” makes all the difference.
‘Our students, like many others from across the University, are used to being real shining stars at School and when they get to University can struggle as they adjust to new subjects and new ways of thinking.
‘The have a social room, like a Common Room in the School and knowing and socialising with the second and third years can help them to feel comfortable and relaxed in these public spaces.’
The School have recently run their induction event, at which mentors meet their mentees for the first time.
‘We just get them together and they get a tour of the School and then have lunch with their new “families”.
‘To break the ice we gave them spaghetti, marshmallows and fruit pastels and told each “family” [a group formed of two mentors and a number of mentees] to build a structure.’
The scheme is so popular that the “parents” now have “grandparents”, third year students to help initiate them into their parental duties.
‘We might try brightly coloured jackets, to make the mentors really easy to spot in freshers week and to help promote the scheme to our other students.’
Caroline is currently planning feedback meetings, where students will be able to raise any pitfalls or benefits of the scheme.
‘Then it’s already looking forward to January, where we will start contacting this year’s first years to see if they want to parent next year’s students.’
Do you need help or advice about Peer Mentoring? Contact email@example.com.
In light of the growing success of the University’s peer mentoring programme, Newcastle has appointed a new co-coordinator for the scheme, based in LTDS.
Claire Burnham began her new role in August and is already involved in helping to support the scheme more widely across the University.
She said: ‘I’m really looking forward to getting going with the programme. It’s going to be very exciting meeting the new mentors and helping to deliver some of the training.’
The programme trains and supports second and third year students to offer help and advice to first years as they begin their studies.
Each mentor works with a group of students in his or her school and a coordinator in their school or unit supervises the project and acts as a point of contact for mentors needing extra support or advice.
A Newcastle alumnus, with a degree in Psychology, Claire is very aware of the importance of getting it right in helping students to transition between school and higher education.
She said: ‘It’s such a great way of supporting students in making the transition to University, having a mentor who has already been through it and can offer support and advice.’
The programme offers full training to all mentors, equipping them with the skills to help new students but also with transferrable skills which will help them to enter the world of work.
As well as arranging and supporting training for peer mentors across the University, Claire is also responsible for making sure that the mentor’s achievements are celebrated.
She said: ‘We will be running, as we have done in previous years, awards for the best mentor in each faculty as nominated by their mentees.’
The awards get presented in a special event to be held at the Great North Museum: Hancock Museum on 5 December.
‘There is also an award for the best coordinator. So the event marks a great chance for mentors and coordinators to get together and celebrate a good job well done.’
If you would like help with training and supporting student mentors in your school or have any questions about the Peer Mentoring Scheme, you canemail Claire on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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