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Theme: Transition and Adjustment

Peer Mentoring Programs – How Do We Know They Really Work?

Julie Grove
Counselling Service
The University of New South Wales

Similar to many tertiary institutions, UNSW has developed a number of Peer Mentor Programs aimed at assisting students through their first year, by forming and enhancing their sense of University belonging and identity. A comprehensive evaluation of one scheme, the Rural Peer Mentor Program, has recently been conducted. The evaluation consisted of interview style questionnaires where students rated the impact the program had on their adjustment to University. But is that enough? How do we know whether mentoring really works? First year programs usually look towards retention rates or improved academic performance when deciding their value. Can we hope for a substantial improvement in these factors through a non-academic program? And when academics ask for a ‘basket of evidence’ before they commit their support, how do we effectively evaluate mentoring programs when we know that so many factors affect transition? This round table discussion will look at the difficult issue of program evaluation using the Rural Peer Mentoring program at UNSW as a starting point.

Full Paper in MS Word

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