240 – Creating and sustaining Peer Supported Learning (PSL) groups – Jeff Waldock

Both through observation and experience it is evident that a powerful student support mechanism is the small scale peer support groups (PSG) that often form naturally within the course cohort.  This poster describes a mechanism for encouraging the development of such groups. As part of a first year module on the mathematics programme, students work in small groups on a project during semester 1, leading to a report, poster and presentation.  The purpose is twofold – firstly to initiate a peer support group from day 1, and secondly to help students develop some key employability skills, such as team work, organisation, leadership, interpersonal skills and communication.  A final year student volunteer is recruited to facilitate this group, through the Peer Assisted Learning scheme.  This scheme has been in operation for four years, having been initiated through a project funded by the Centre for Promoting Learner Autonomy.  The final year PAL leaders, most of whom have been on industrial placement, develop additional employability skills and an enhanced CV through engagement with this process. This poster will summarise the scheme and provide evidence, in the form of student reflective comments, on its benefits. PAL Leader: “It’s certainly made me more confident speaking up in front of a group of people I don’t know. It gave me a good idea of how people work together in a group too, something that you don’t notice as much if you’re actually working within the group.” First year student: “I learnt that to meet new people isn’t as hard as I thought and that we having a group of friends to bounce ideas from one another is a good thing.”

Click to view poster:  240 SHU_LTA_2013_Waldock_PSL

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About Adele Evans

My career has spanned over 30 years, I have worked mainly in education but in varying roles. My first role was at an Estate Agents, this was not a good experience and was dominated by senior management belittling office staff and deciding that the role should be to make tea and coffee for all 15 employees. I felt devalued and gained little work experience and decided that working in this industry wasn't for me. I think experiences like this shape you, I may not have learnt much about how to work in Estate Agents but I did realise that being encouraging, supportive and making people feel valued is truly important. I proceeded to work at Westcourt Property Services as a P.A. for the rented department. Even though I was only there a couple of years it was the first time I was working with new people and at varying levels which I gained a lot of experience and support from. I was eager to learn and to develop my work based skills. I applied for a job at Sheffield Hallam University when there was a recruitment fair in 1990 and was offered a 1 year temporary post, I took this opportunity as the money was more than double to what I was earning in my P.A. post and I knew that Sheffield Hallam would give me much more potential for a further career. I worked hard in a small team in Financial Studies and Law and managed to get my post made into a permanent position. I then made a sideways move to work in Student Finance, I was sceptical about a sideways move but it really paid off as my manager at the time was very supportive and I worked with a good team. I was encouraged to apply for a part-time HNC Business and Finance course at SHU with the potential of continuing my study onto degree level. The course was challenging as I had been out of education for about 7 years and there was a lot of work and with working full time it was demanding, however, I found my strengths studying subjects that appealed to me. The course gave me experience and a confidence boost that I really needed and made me realise that I could with hard work and dedication, I could achieve anything that I put my mind to. I got married a year later and then had my son and reduced to part-time, I was interviewed for the line manager role while I was on maternity leave and I was successful in that post. After having my daughter, my career then progressed from there, I gained the Head of Student Finance Centre part-time and line managed between 8 - 12 members of staff, I also began working part-time in other roles within the university so I could gain more experience. Working full time in two different roles had its challenges but you gain so much from working in different roles and with different people. I took the opportunity to develop my skills further by attending many training courses at SHU. The role expanded considerably due to the changes in government which impacted on student finance, but this gave me a great opportunity, I enjoyed the challenge and welcomed change and new ways of working. I also became an independent investigator for the university which really enhanced my skills in listening and report writing. I have worked at Sheffield Hallam University for 27 years in many different roles including School of Financial Studies and Law, Student Services, Admissions and UK Recruitment, Human Resources, Quality Enhancement, Library and Student Support Services (L3S) and now in Marketing. During this time I have gained a huge amount of experience from my varying roles and working with different people, I learnt that you absorb a lot of information and experience from the people you work with at all levels. I have previously worked as a Business Relationship Manager for L3S, working closely with my designated faculty of Health and Wellbeing. I now work as a Business Partner for Marketing and support the Sheffield Business School, I manage and develop effective working relationships, enhance knowledge and understanding of team priorities within Marketing and align strategic plans with the Faculty. During my working life I have learnt many things: • Making mistakes is ok, it's what makes you learn. • Believing in yourself is a difficult skill but one that everyone needs to undertake if you don't believe in yourself who will, building confidence and channelling negative thoughts is essential. • Consulting with people effectively, actively listening to their answers and making sure they feel valued is always beneficial, not just for the individuals but also for you. I've learnt that one of the best ways of learning is to learn from others. • Work life balance - balancing children and a busy work schedule. Knowing when to click off at the end of the day. • Everyone is different and we must learn to embrace diversity. • Don' t be afraid to take on new challenges, even pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, it's how you develop yourself, you can always ask for support and the sense of achievement and the skills learnt will be with you going forward in your career. • Being forward thinking and expecting change, things change and we have to accept that so learn to prepare and embrace it. Change is how we all progress. Challenges I have overcome • I found being a young female and lacking in confidence is something that some people would take advantage of and talk down to you, this happened at varying times throughout my early career, I realised that believing in myself, being prepared, using my emotional intelligence skills and making sure I appear confident means that others stop doubting you. What is it I can provide for the mentee • I am friendly, warm and approachable and get fulfilment from inspiring confidence in people. • I am a good listener. • We will learn from each other and build and develop personal and professional effectiveness. • I gain satisfaction by supporting others and helping develop their strengths and supporting them. • I believe it is key to be forward thinking and plan your personal ambitions and think creatively. • Support you with your wellbeing, share my experiences.