Peer Mentoring Feedback 2020

Posted by cc576 at Jun 04, 2021 01:56 PM |
By Bliss Edge-Warland

Our university-wide Peer Mentoring scheme operates by enrolling every first year undergraduate student (*outside of the Medical School) into the scheme and allocating them a Peer Mentor who is in their 2nd year or beyond, within the same academic department. Peer Mentor volunteers are recruited the year before and are trained over summer with the skills required for the role, to then begin peer-to-peer support in September. The core responsibility of a Peer Mentor is to assist with that transition period from school or college, to the point of joining and settling in as a University of Leicester student.

Each year we ask our Mentors and Mentees to share their experiences of the Peer Mentoring scheme to evaluate what worked and how we can improve. Every single year our Mentees report feeling reassured by their Peer Mentor, even when they don’t ask for additional support outside of the core communications they receive. Sometimes first year students just need their Peer Mentor to act simply as a friend, with many reporting that their Mentor bridged the gap of loneliness when they hadn’t made any friends in their first few weeks. This was facilitated by how quick and easy it was for Mentees to contact their Mentor according to the feedback, finding it more accessible and relatable to contact their Peer Mentor for any smaller questions about student life.
In relation to the pandemic, some Mentees reported that their Mentor felt like a key point of connection to the university, as they reported feeling isolated due to the conditions preventing them from being on campus like they would have normally. In these situations, worries about living alone, being in a new city away from family and the increased independence were all heightened, with the reassurance that their Peer Mentor had experienced similar worries being comforting to the first year Mentees. This is backed up by our evaluations, that suggest a lot of the value in peer-to-peer support comes from the shared experiences of the Mentors and Mentees; this relatability bonds these groups and means the advice shared is more likely to be based on recent, real life experiences. We saw this in increased communications this year between the Mentors and Mentees while they all experienced student life in a pandemic together.

Beginning in 2019, we developed the scheme further by incorporating an element named Liberation Matching. This meant that the incoming first year students could request Mentors with even more shared characteristics, such as their ethnic background, gender or sexuality orientation, or their international student status. Our Mentees reported that the familiarity of their Peer Mentors meant that they were more likely to actually ask the question about any concerns they had, rather than struggle alone, which is one of the main aims of the scheme. This was very successful as our research from this year reflected that 93% of Mentees would recommend having a Peer Mentor to their friend and 95.3% of Mentees reported that they felt the Peer Mentoring scheme benefits students.
Furthermore, 97.9% of our Peer Mentors reported that they felt scheme benefitted students overall and 96.7% would recommend becoming a Peer Mentor to a friend. Right now we are still recruiting and training up Mentors from all departments for September 2021-22, all they need to do is register interest and we will be in touch, ready for them to join our team!

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