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Lessons Being Learned from a Peer Mentoring Project for Social Work Degree Students. Margarete Parrish, PhD University of Gloucestershire. Overview and History of Project. Comparisons of students’ work at end of Years One and Two New degree programme
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Lessons Being Learned from a Peer Mentoring Project for Social Work Degree Students Margarete Parrish, PhD University of Gloucestershire
Overview and History of Project • Comparisons of students’ work at end of Years One and Two • New degree programme • Study Buddy Mentors are 3rd cohort of degree students • 2nd cohort of Mentors • University Mission specifically targets under-represented groups • Awareness of tremendous growth and development by end of year 2 • Transferability of learning, including survival skills
Literature Review • Lacking evidence of similar programme currently being offered for SW degree students
Aims of Project • Provide mentors for all incoming Year 1 Social Work students • Academic role models for beginning students • Academic support • Personal support • Survival skills • Reality checks
Selection Process for Mentors • Year 3 students with > 60 GPA at end of Year 2 • Evidence of academic success • Role models with evidence of achievement • Avoidance of potentially compromising concentration of struggling students
2006-2007 N = 46 Year 3 students 28 = “Eligibles” 22 = volunteered to be Mentors Remaining students had personal or family circumstances that precluded participation being appropriate 2007-2008 N = 55 Year 3 Students 29 = “Eligibles” 21 = Volunteered to be Mentors Remaining students had personal or family circumstances that precluded participation being appropriate Recruiting Process
Recruitment Process • Potential mentors were contacted by email • Explained project to them • Requested attendance for 1 day during Year One Induction Week • Recruitment and planning occurred during summer months
Induction Process • Study Buddies’ Induction Day occurred during Year One Induction Week • Day-long commitment for Mentors • University guidelines about services available for support for students from diverse backgrounds • Guidance for working with students with special needs, including pastoral concerns • Introduction to Year One students over buffet lunch catered by university
Matching Efforts • Personal choices honoured to the extent possible • Students were introduced at Induction Day • Demographics • Male students matched with male mentors • Foreign national students matched with foreign national mentor • Students living in halls matched with mentors who had lived in halls • Age and location given consideration when possible
Implementation • All Year One students were assigned a Study Buddy Mentor • Each Mentor was assigned 2 or 3 Year One students • Contact between Mentors and Year One students established by email during first 2 weeks of semester
Utilisation of Study Buddy Mentors • Approximately 65-75% of Year One students utilised the Study Buddy Project • Personal meetings • Individual meetings or emails between students and mentors • Informal meetings in canteen • Mentors volunteered to be available at a designated area of the canteen during lunch breaks
Evaluations from Year One Students • 73% of Year One students completed evaluation form • 65% of responses were positive • 35% of responses were indifferent • Range of comments • Informal meetings in canteen emphasised as being helpful
Pros and Cons • Primary Benefits Noted for Year One • Practical guidance • Essay writing, Correct referencing, Books to purchase • Time management issues • Library matters • “Moral Support” • Experiences, reassurance, relaxation strategies • Reality testing • Primary Problems Noted • Coordinating contact with mentors
Primary problem of usage & non-usage of Project Year One: • Some Year One students never responded to Study Buddy’s emails • Time management issues (mutual) • Primary variables relevant to non-usage • Age < 21 • Gender • Ethnicity
Evaluations from Year 3 Mentors • 59% response rate • Overwhelmingly positive • Significant variables: • Average age = >30 • 40% had A levels • 30% had completed Access Course • 10% had prior BA degree • Primary problems/Questions: • Non-response from Year One students • Issues of continued contact after semester one
Benefits for Mentors • Reinforced learning from Year One • Transfer of knowledge • Recognition of skills, achievement • Increased confidence • Acknowledgement of leadership potential • Greater sense of cohesion, relationships among peers and across years of study • Relevance to PQ requirements
Results & Relevance • Successful role models provided for Year One students • Informal contact as useful as specifically assigned mentor • Reinforcement of Year Three students’ learning • Diminished anxiety among Year One • Improved retention rates among Year One • Greater social cohesion between years of study on the SW degree programme
Year One: Difficulties engaging with younger students Difficulties engaging with ethnic minority students Ironies of stronger students usage of mentors vs. struggling students’ reluctance Year Three: Difficulties engaging male and ethnic minority mentors Uncertainties about how assertive to be in contacting Study Buddies Boundary Issues Ongoing Concerns
Implications for Replication • Easily replicable • Support for eligibility criteria by grade point averages • Importance of preparation of and support for Mentors • Emphasis needed on establishing contact with younger students early (and often) in beginning of programme • Have a supportive line manager • Thank you, Sara Coleman!
References • Bhatti-Sinclair, K. (1995). 'Mentoring and consultancy for black social work students', Issues in Social Work Education, 15(2), 18-34. • Billett, S. (1998) Situation, social systems, and learning. Journal of Education and Work, 11(3): 255-274. • Clutterbuck, D. (2004) Everyone Needs A Mentor, 4th ed. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development. • Van Voorhis, R.M. (1998) 'Culturally relevant practice: a framework for teaching the psychosocial dynamics of oppression', Journal of Social Work Education, 34, 121-133.