Peer mentoring to secure student placements

Article English OPEN
Procter, CT
  • Publisher: Emerald
  • Subject: other
    acm: ComputingMilieux_GENERAL | ComputingMilieux_COMPUTERSANDEDUCATION | ComputingMilieux_THECOMPUTINGPROFESSION

Purpose \ud This paper describes a case study where student peer mentors were employed to motivate and assist undergraduates to secure optional professional placement positions.\ud Design/methodology/approach\ud The paper describes the reasons for establishing the project and the recruitment of mentors. It outlines a survey of students who had not undertaken placements the previous year to try to identify the activities that would be most effective on the part of the mentors. It then describes the mentoring that was conducted. The mentors, together with the placement co-coordinator, devised support ranging from one to one mentoring, drop in ‘clinics’, online support through a social network and large group talks. It discusses the results of this work and evaluates the oral and written responses of both mentors and mentees.\ud Findings \ud Those mentees who took part in the mentoring were typically those who were already enthusiastic about placement opportunities. The majority of students did not take advantage of mentoring support either face to face or online. It was found that the mentoring scheme did not significantly affect the proportion of students seeking or securing placements. However, the mentors themselves gained tremendous benefits from the mentoring scheme in particular developing their communication skills and confidence.\ud Research limitations\ud A thorough survey of potential mentees was not carried out after the project to ascertain the reasons for their lack of engagement.\ud Practical implications \ud There are two separate implications of this project: 1) The mentoring scheme was valuable primarily for the mentors and not the mentees and 2) The level of support provided by the University is not the main factor in the low take up of optional placement opportunities. If such learning opportunities are felt to be sufficiently valuable for the student learning experience they need to be compulsory with appropriate support available – a mentoring scheme might then be of far more value to mentees.\ud Originality/value \ud There is very little published concerning the use of mentoring to facilitate work based learning. Furthermore most published work on mentoring is located in the ‘best practice’ school of pedagogical research where it is implicitly assumed that one must report on the success of an intervention. Frequently it is more valuable to examine more unexpected results of an intervention. This paper however shows much greater benefits achieved by the mentors than the mentees.
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