Peer Support for Student Success

Peer Mentoring

Peer Mentoring involves linking more experienced students with less experienced students in order to provide guidance and support based upon sharing what they have learnt from their experiences at university. The information here is aimed at anyone in MMU who is interested in developing a student peer mentoring scheme for their students

More about Peer Mentoring

What is mentoring?

  • Mentoring is a developmental partnership through which one person shares knowledge, skills, information and perspective to support the learning and personal growth of someone else.
  • Mentoring can take many forms and can be designed to suit your students' needs. and preferences. We are suggesting forms of student to student, or peer-mentoring. Some of our pilot schemes have concentrated on first year under-graduates being mentored by second years, often through a drop-in system rather than formal matching. However, we also have examples of co-mentoring- where students from the same year or tutor group support each other.

Peer mentoring?

  • Peer Mentoring involves linking more experienced students with less experienced students in order to provide guidance and support.
  • Peer mentors act on behalf of the University in this role in order to foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment.
  • The role of the mentor is distinct from other University support services and is based upon sharing what you have learnt from your experiences as a student.

The Value of Peer Mentoring

  • Peer-mentoring relationships have a number of potential benefits for several stakeholders: university/departments, staff, students mentors and those mentored.
  • Enhance retention and prevent early departure
  • Promote well-being through better awareness of and access to student services
  • Promote a sense of community and belonging
  • Enhance learning and confidence
  • Develop a range of inter-personal skills to enhance employability

What Peer Mentors can offer

  • Help new students to settle into life at MMU and their course
  • Provide support for students who might feel isolated or lack confidence
  • Provide support in getting to grips with things like Moodle or the electronic submission of coursework or the electronic resources available at the library
  • Offer appropriate advice and guidance about how to manage the transition from school or college to university.(eg how to manage time, plan and prioritise work, set goals and action plan)

Specific peer mentoring activity

  • Provide support and assurance to first year students through encouragement and sharing of student experiences that will help them adjust to the pace and style of autonomous learning
  • Provide tips and perspectives for “surviving first year” from a student perspective. 
  • Provide individual and confidential support to students on a drop in basis, mainly through signposting to expert support services.
  • Provide a structure for students to discuss questions and other matters arising from their own social, personal and academic orientation

 

Peer Assisted Learning

Peer assisted learning schemes have been growing in all types of universities and are consistently shown to have benefits to student attenders, student leaders, academic staff and to the creation of learning communities.

More about Peer Assisted Learning

 

At Manchester Met, we are beginning to work with peer-led learning schemes as detailed below.

Peer Assisted learning – timetabled sessions with trained Student Leaders

This is a structured role, akin to leading a group study session. A core level 4 unit is chosen that students find challenging (so-called ‘gatekeeper units’). Timetabled PAL sessions are included in all student timetables. The academic staff member gives (say) the lecture on a Monday. Later in the week, say, Wednesday, the PAL session is timetabled. Two student leaders prepare a group study session to follow up on the lecture. The session is not compulsory, but all students are made aware, usually in the lecture, that this is available to all. During the session students will work with issues, problems or aspects that the students identify.

Training of the PALS is a half-day session (provided by CELT) where students are trained in the practice of facilitation. Training specifically focusses on avoidance of a ‘teaching’ role, if direct questions are asked student leaders are trained to reflect these back to the group and to explore difficult concepts rather than to re-teach them. The Student Leaders should work closely with the unit tutor, feeding back on the degree to which difficult concepts are being grasped, for example. This would normally occur in a debrief session where the Student Leaders meet briefly with the unit tutor sometime after the PAL session.

As demonstrators:

this is where students are in the class with the academic member of staff. This may be in a lab, studio or similar, usually where practical work is being undertaken. Students are paid to provide an extra pair of hands. Ideally, the students will have done the course previously, will be already trained in the locally appropriate relevant health and safety procedures and will need a short training session to consider how to work with student diversity and exhibiting professional behaviours.

Data Buddies

is a particular kind of peer support for numeracy that is currently operating as a ‘drop-in’ facility in faculties at Manchester Met. Students are paid and trained to work with students 1:1 on a drop in basis.

 

If you wish to discuss the practicalities of setting up peer support activities, please contact Helen Lord in the Transition and Peer Support Team and see their Peer Mentoring and Peer Assisted Learning web pages.