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Discussion Groups & Mentoring Two innovative, effective and easy to implement programs for students with disabilities
Mentoring Discussion Groups Audience Expectations
Mentor/Tutor Agenda • Overview/History • Eligible Students • Recruiting &Training Mentors/Tutors • Feedback on Program • Administrative Issues
OSD Mentor Tutor Program • Accommodation for disability • Primarily for LD and ADHD students • Small ‘intradepartmental’ program
History of MT Program • CACUSS 2005 @ Queens- “Peer Mentoring” workshop • Mentor ‘stuff’ emailed from Queen’s • Pilot project McGill 2005-6 (7 pairs) • MT program is official 2006-7 (10 pairs)
Who is Offered MT Support? • First year student? • Away from home for the first time? • Degree of support received prior to McGill? • Post-secondary experience? • At risk of failure→ history of poor academic performance? • Severity of disability?
Who is Not Offered..? • Students* with significant co-morbid mental health concerns (i.e. anxiety and depression) • Students* with significant motivational difficulties (i.e. blaming others for failures, very dependent) • Students* who are extremely chaotic * these students are followed by professionals @ OSD
Student Skills Modeled by MTs • Time management • Organization • Prioritizing • Advocating • Asking questions/finding answers • Finding and using campus resources • Study skills • Reading, writing, presentations
Bonus… • A personal connection at a large university • An objective perspective when things feel overwhelming • Encouragement to problem solve • An ‘old hand’s’ guidance about academic decisions • Knowledge of university procedures • Accountability
Who are OSD MTs? • McGill graduate students, all faculties • Good academic standing • Some qualify for McGill work study • Good people skills • Some experience in a helping relationship • References
Why be an MT? • I want to give back… • I have skills and time to offer… • I want to be connected to the campus community… • I enjoy helping others… • Getting some experience…resumé…. • I have a friend/sibling with a disability… • I have a disability… • (It’s nice to earn a bit of money… 12$ per hour)
Recruiting MTs • Return MTs • Posters around campus in August • Grad student to grad student referrals • Work study-McGill financial aid web site • Applications, transcripts and e-references • Interview* * 2:1 ratio of potential MTs to students * Do not hire judgmental grad students who want to change the world!
Making Matches • More art than science • Good personality combo • Consider skills deficits in student • Consider helping experience of MT • Common interests or hobbies
Program Rules • 2 hrs per week maximum • Meet in public spaces • Must use logs every session • Respect privacy and confidentiality • Must work on academic (or closely related) issues • No counselling or coaching • Ask for help when needed
Training MTs • 2 training session a term • Info about disability & learning • Metacognition and LD/ADHD • Tools & resources to use with students • Group support
Supervising MT Pairs • Weekly logs • MT meets with OSD Learning Skills Specialist (me) • Student meets with OSD Learning Skills Specialist • Student email logs • Training and evaluation sessions
Weekly Logs • A way to monitor pairs’ interaction • Provides structure for sessions • Tracks goal setting & progress • Feedback from logs provides info for first mentor training session needs
October MT Training • Info about disability & learning • Metacognition and LD/ADHD • Tools to use with students • Basic student skills – self-representation, planning, time management, organization • Basic academic skills - essay writing & study skills • Mentor interaction
November Training Session • Zeroing in on the issues • Revising expectations • Tools they have tried • Building the relationship & boundaries • Sharing tips & supporting each other • Networking resources
Evaluation Session End of term with mentors & students • Ice breakers - fun • Questionnaires re: satisfaction (one for mentors, one for students) • Group discussion – feedback Best thing? Things to change? • Pizza and chat
Participant Feedback • MTs rate the experience very highly. • All MTs said they would do it again. • All students reported that mentoring really paid off in terms of academic performance. • All said the program was very enjoyable, would do it again.
Most Valuable: the Personal Factor • Accountability • Knowing that someone else cared about their performance & well-being • Peer modeling • Experience & wisdom • Friendship • Connection to the learning community
What Students Learned • Organization is a survival skill • It is possible to change • Small goals work • One on one contact is really nice • Learn to play the university game (strategic prioritizing) • Get to know your profs & use them
Most Important Learning • Make sure the prof knows who you are • Learn what professors want • Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback • Ask for help when you need to • Speak up, find out, ask questions • Get to know classmates, especially the friendly ones.
What Improved Motivation? • Develop small ‘doable’ goals • Track progress closely • Evaluate and modify ≠ failure • Give credit where credit is due – any progress is positive
Most Modeled Skills • Keep an agenda & use it • Use a term calendar, mark all due dates • Have a plan & stick to it • Solve problems early • Have a clean, organized book bag • Be on time • Follow through
Nitty Gritty • Administrative time average 3 hrs per week • hiring • supervision • training • Funding→Payroll & pizza • Evaluation
The Bottom Line Year 2006-7 total - 30 weeks • 10 mentors • 9 students • My time: 84 hours (2.8 hrs per week) • Mentor hours: 225 • Cost: 2850$ or $316. per student
Agenda for Discussion Groups • Origin of the Group • Researching the concept • Funding • Building a team • Assembling the Skeleton • The Group Begins • Member Feedback
Origin of the Group • A student planted a seed • Reflected on own past experience
Research • San Francisco State University: program designed to help students address non-academic obstacles to success • York University & OISIE: peer support network identified as significant aide in integration of students with mental health conditions into campus life • Many other studies recommend the creation of support groups based on research results
Funding & Budget • MELS special project funding ($1500.00) • Professional Time: 5hours (2hrs of group, 1-2hrs prep, 1hr administration) • Total Costs (10 week period) • Animator: $300.00 • Office Supplies: $80.00 • Food: $450.00
Building a Team • Play to your weaknesses • Find someone to complement your skills • Use the resources at hand • Grad students/volunteers • Male/Female
Assembling the Skeleton • Discussion vs. Support Group • Open vs. Closed Group • Location, Location, Location • Timing • Brainstorm topics • Structure of Group Meetings • Food • Advertising
The Group Begins • Session 1: Establishing the Group • Ice Breaker: 2 truths & 1 lie • Participants established group guidelines and suggested possible future topics • Session 2: Coping with Stress & Anxiety • Ice Breaker: Poker Chip theory of stress • Defined what stress was for them, the concepts of good and bad stress, how they experience stress, what triggers stress and how they alleviate stress
Sessions (continued) • Session 3: Dating and Relationships pt 1 • Ice Breaker: Characteristics of Self & Other • Discussed issues regarding family and choice of partner, and issues regarding how/when do you disclose that you have a disability to your partner
Sessions (continued) • Session 4: Dating & Relationships (pt 2) • Continued to discuss the intricacies of relationships – especially the part regarding the disclosure of disabilities. The discussion led into a talk regarding disclosure of disability in other areas (i.e. career).
Sessions (continued) • Session 5: Career & Job Search (pt 1) • Ice Breaker: Mini MBTI • Discussed ideas regarding the importance of understanding and being conscious of your values, interests and skills as you approach a job search. We also discussed the notion of disclosure of disability to employers.
Sessions (continued) • Session 6: Model Professors (Guest Moderator) • As part of the initiative of the Senate Board Sub-Committee on Persons with Disabilities to recognize a professor who champions the needs of disabled students, the group was asked to put forward some criteria that they would like to see included for nominees of the award to possess.
Sessions (continued) • Session 7: Career & Job Search (pt 2) – Guest Moderator • Ice Breaker: Celebrity Cocktail party • A university Career Counsellor came to answer students questions regarding networking and job search techniques
Sessions (continued) • Session 8: Communication Skills • Ice Breaker: Societal Labels • Discussed the idea of societal labels and the impact they have. We segued into communication skills via the concept of our labeling other people and explored tips for effective communication
Sessions (continued) • Session 9: Creativity & Problem Solving • Used various activities: “The Swan”, word puzzles, OH Cards, Word Association, to look at creative ways to solve problems, or ways to approach or change your thinking about how to approach problems
Sessions (continued) • Session 10: Feedback Session • We went back over the topics covered in the group and members gave their feedback. Also reviewed the way the group was set up, and made recommendations for next years group. At the end, members awarded trophies to other group members based on their most memorable characteristic.
References • Baron, Renee (1998): What Type am I? Penguin Books, New York, New York • Grott, Ray (1999): Technology Only Goes so Far: solutions through advocacy and resource teams (START). Paper presented at CSUN 1999 conference www.csun.edu/cod/conf/1999/proceedings/session0127.htm • Von Oech, Roger (1990): A Whack on the Side of the Head. US Games Systems Inc., Stamford CT • Weiner, E. & Weiner, J. (1996): Concerns and Needs of University Students with Psychiatric Disabilities. Journal on Postsecondary Education and Disability Vol. 12, 1 • OH Cards: Eos Interactive Cards 1- 800 - 236-1683