August 6, 2013, by Teaching at Nottingham

Students mentoring students: the momentum is growing

Laura Higgins: “They say that mighty oaks from little acorns grow, and that certainly was the case with the recent Peer Mentoring Conference at Nottingham this May. From a quick chat over coffee between myself and Vicky Mann (NAA) about student transitional support and Nottingham Advantage Award accredited modules, grew a unique and interesting collaboration which would span many of the academic Schools and Central Services and promised to knit together innovation and practice.

“Out of the observation that more and more Schools were putting together accredited mentoring schemes in various iterations, but that there was no consensus over what mentoring meant at Nottingham, we joined forces with the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy who have successfully run their award-winning mentoring scheme since January 2012 to define and explore mentoring in theory and reality.

“Keynote Jane Andrews from Aston University opened the conference with a presentation on her research surrounding the ideal model for mentoring in HE, to much acclaim from delegates both in the room and on Twitter #UoNpeermentoring. Colleagues from Birmingham University shared expertise about their hugely successful PASS scheme and sparked a lively debate about the merit of opt-out vs opt-in.

“Tackling the ‘big issues’ of peer assisted learning, international integration and broad spectrum transitional support as well as logistical issues surrounding creation, implementation and retention, workshops at ‘The Symposium’ as it became known drew out a wealth of discussion about mentoring at Nottingham, including the prospect of a university-wide mentoring scheme, and revealed a real appetite for embracing mentoring, with strong support for both school-managed and centrally-managed schemes.

“Student representation, both in the Workshops and at the final Panel discussion, gave life to the debate and showed the impact and benefits, both academic and social, enjoyed by both mentors and mentees in the vibrant support communities they had forged.

“Now we’ve established roots, we hope to nurture the conversation at Nottingham. Evidently we have lots of branches of very good practice, but need to take the next step to communicate and integrate this practice in a way which is meaningful and dynamic, and can benefit students cross-departmentally as the climate and their support needs continue to change.”

Feedback from the conference plus presentation slides will be hosted on the upcoming Peer Mentoring Workspace site.

Laura Higgins
Academic Support Projects Officer

Posted in Transition into HE