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  5. Online peer mentoring at scale: Benefits and impacts from a student buddy perspective

Online peer mentoring at scale: Benefits and impacts from a student buddy perspective

Project leader(s): 
Julie Robson and Chris Hutton
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current

The project aims to evaluate student buddy experience on S112, S(XF)206, S209 and S390 in EEES to understand the drivers behind volunteering, impacts on employability and whether sustainable communities of buddies can be fostered. Much has been written about the value of such peer mentoring schemes for students; results suggest that these schemes are beneficial (Motzo 2016, Robson et al., 2018a Robson et al., 2018b). Less is known about the effects of being a student buddy and impacts on their own development and employability (Robson and Forbes, 2016).

As volunteers, buddies available time is variable and cannot be constrained by the peer-mentoring project, creating uncertainty regarding the number of buddies needed to provide a sustainable level of service and for longitudinal continuity. The project will evaluate the sustainability of the voluntary EEES student buddy scheme.

The impact of mentoring on student buddies is vital to evaluating sustainability. The project would compare buddies’ expectations of the role and its benefits, especially related to employability skills at the beginning of their term with reflection on their experiences at the end of their first and second years of office. The research questions to be explored in this project are:

  • Are peer mentoring schemes involving volunteer students sustainable and can they help build a student buddy community across modules?
  • What are the benefits of being a student buddy in terms of transferable skills gained?
  • How can being a student buddy contribute to their employability skills?

Results could be used to tailor both the buddy role itself, improve advertising and recruitment of buddies and determine the requirements of a sustainable student asynchronous, peer mentoring scheme. Outcomes will inform the case for mainstreaming student online peer support across the university and inform other HEIs wanting to engage their distance learners.


References

Motzo, A. (2016). Evaluating the effects of a ‘student buddy’ initiative on student engagement and motivation. In C. Goria, O. Speicher, & S. Stollhans (Eds), Innovative language teaching and learning at university: enhancing participation and collaboration (pp. 19-28). Dublin: Research-publishing.net. http://dx.doi.org/10.14705/rpnet.2016.00040

Robson, J.M., and Forbes, T., (2016) Vertical Peer to Peer mentoring in the Faculty of Social Sciences: a pilot study. Open University internal report unpubl. (Online) Available from: https://intranet9.open.ac.uk/collaboration/Scholarship-Exchange/Wiki/Document.aspx?DocumentID=2125

Robson, J.M.,  and Forbes, T., (2016) Vertical Peer to Peer mentoring in the Faculty of Social Sciences: a pilot study. Open University internal report unpubl. (Online) Available from: https://intranet9.open.ac.uk/collaboration/Scholarship-Exchange/Wiki/Document.aspx?DocumentID=2125

Robson, J., Crabb, E. and Lotze, N., (2018) Evaluating different operating models of study buddy schemes – what works best for students? Horizons in STEM: Making Connections, innovating and sharing pedagogy 2018, 28-29th June University of Hull

Robson, J., Wheeler, P. and Church, K. (2018) Peer mentoring schemes for Distance Learners; a successful working example from Environmental Science. Horizons in STEM: Making Connections, innovating and sharing pedagogy 2018, 28-29th June University of Hull

Wakeham, W. (2016) Wakeham review of STEM degree provision and graduate employability [Online],HM UK Government. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/518582/ind-16-6-wakeham-review-stem-graduate-employability.pdf [Accessed 10/02/19]

Wakeham, W. (2017) Keynote presented at HEA STEM Conference 2017: Achieving Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Manchester, UK, 1-2 Feb [Online]. Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/downloads/prof_sir_william_wakeham_hea_stem_conference_presetnation.pdf

Robson, J. and Hutton, C. (2019) Project poster (PDF)

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