What is peer mentoring?
Peer mentoring involves experienced students supporting less experienced students for mutual benefit.
What are the different types of peer mentoring?
Different types of peer mentoring schemes are used. This includes:
- Course mentors– supportive peer relationships that exist through a course and which address many dimensions of a student’s academic and social experience.
- Transition mentors– mentors who typically support transition into university.
- Placement mentors– supporting peers to identify, prepare for and successfully complete placements.
- International mentors– international students matched to and supporting peers from home countries.
- Final year mentors– recent alumni supporting students, sometimes returning from placement, to successfully complete their final year.
Peer mentoring is not…
Peer mentors are trained and it is important they understand the parameters of their role. Peer mentors do not replace tutoring or support services, but do learn how to listen to students concerns and signpost to such support. Peer mentors do not take responsibility for:
- Careers guidance, but they can signpost and support students to use formally provided services.
- One to one tutoring and proofreading of course work or other practices which may undermine academic integrity. Peers are trained to provide support as critical friends who can help manage independent study time and signpost to relevant resources and support.
- Advice on visa issues, but can signpost peers to relevant services.
- Advice on student finances, loans and bursaries, but can signpost peers to relevant services.
What are the benefits of peer mentoring schemes?
For the mentor the benefits include:
- A chance to reflect on what they have learnt about themselves as learners and to take pride in sharing their wisdom with others.
- Engagement in a reflective leadership role which will develop their self-efficacy and employability.
- The opportunity to receive training on communication and mentoring and to put these skills into practise.
For the mentee the benefits include:
- Establishing supportive learning relationships with peers who have recently experienced the subject and its methods at their current level of study.
- Clarification about the relevance of activities, tasks and topics to their own experience and aspirations.
- Help with undertaking methods, developing skills and capabilities, and reflecting on their learning.
Training of mentors
It is important that mentors are selected and that all peer mentors receive training. Being selected and trained not only ensures the quality of a scheme but establishes evidence of the University’s belief in a student’s capabilities beyond the curriculum and it is therefore useful to their employability.
How peer mentoring does work?
The HEA What Works report on peer mentoring (Andrews & Clark, 2011, p. 13) recommends that universities should consider embedding peer mentoring as part of an institutional retention strategy. Such a programme should be well-structured and usually requires a dedicated person, or persons, to manage it. To operationalise it requires:
- a rigorous mentor selection and training process;
- care in pairing mentees and mentors to ensure a good match;
- on-going sign-posted support;
- ongoing programme evaluation;
- a way to recognise for mentors.
Where can I find out more?
Take a look at:
- Resources page: mentoring section
Thomas, L. (2012). What works? – Student retention and success. Building student engagement and belonging in higher education at a time of change. York: Higher Education Academy. Online: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/what_works_final_report.pdf