"The value of mentors and mentees in Year Zero, Art and Design", Pecha Kucha presentationContribution to University of Ulster CHEP Annual Conference: Student Engagement, 24th January 2013.

Rachel Dickson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


ABSTRACT Students as Peer MentorsThe Value of Mentors and Mentees in Year Zero, Art and DesignPecha KuchaDickson, R. AbstractSocial Integration and Social Support are closely linked and are vital to the University experience. Successful integration in both social and academic areas reduces the likelihood of student withdrawal (Tinto, 1995). Therefore, a formalised approach to social interaction could be seen to be required at course level. Peer support groups, mentors, icebreakers and staff guidance are all essential approaches. The institution must also recognise its responsibility to provide additional and specialised support to students, and this can be enhanced with the involvement of students as peer mentors.The project was initiated in response to attendance at the International Conference on the First Year Experience, organised by the University of South Carolina, and held at University College Dublin, through the award of a STAR bursary. The following year, mentors were recruited from BA Hons Art & Design (Foundation Year for Specialist Degrees), for the introduction of a peer mentor program in the next academic year of the course. The project was piloted with the aim of providing non-academic support to all students in the Year Zero cohort. This was in contrast to other mentor programs which target struggling or ‘at risk’ students. It was through other examples of similar programs discussed at the conference that the value of all students becoming mentees became evident. No student can be seen as being ‘singled-out’, and all students on the course were assigned a mentor. Mentors were required to apply for the role and full training was provided. This included workshops from Student Support, Students Union, and practical training sessions on what was expected from the role. Contact came through weekly emails from mentors, for the period of semester one. Support for mentors was also a factor in the planning of the project, with the Course Director maintaining regular contact to chart progress and deal with any issues as they arose. Although mentees were not required to reply to emails, mentors continued regular weekly contact. Mentees reported that although they may not have responded, it gave them confidence to know the mentor was there.The feedback from both mentors and mentees was extremely positive and retention figures were improved, of which the peer mentor program may have been a positive factor. In the second cycle of the program, students were again recruited in the previous academic year. They had been mentees and had experienced the program’s positive aspects, and were in a position to recognise the benefits. A decision was made to begin the mentor program prior to Week One, with mentees being contacted before induction, being welcomed and introduced to the course in order to further ease transition into the University experience.When such practices are introduced in the initial stages of a course, students are more likely to settle down, be satisfied with their experience, and benefit socially and academically. They will also feel less isolated, and less likely to withdraw. (Bingham, Daniels, 1998) Word Count: 496Keywords: peer mentor, mentee, transition, support, first year experienceRachel Dickson, Subject Partnership Manager, Architecture, Art & Design/ Joint Course Director, BA Hons Contemporary Applied Arts, School of Art & Design, [email protected], 02895 267353 (Author)Rachel Dickson is Joint Course Director in Contemporary Applied Arts, whose pedagogic research interests include supporting the student experience, transition process, and assessment and feedback. Rachel is the Subject Partnership Manager for Architecture, Art & Design, a School Assessment and Feedback Champion, member of the Faculty Teaching and Learning Committee and a member of the Collaborative Partnerships Forum. Rachel was previously Course Director for BA Hons Art & Design (Foundation Year for Specialist Degrees)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
EditorsRachel Dickson
PublisherUlster University
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2013
EventCHEP Annual Conference: Student Engagement - University of Ulster, Jordanstown campus
Duration: 1 Sept 2013 → …


ConferenceCHEP Annual Conference: Student Engagement
Period1/09/13 → …


  • student engagement
  • mentoring
  • retention
  • CHEP
  • Higher Education
  • pecha kucha
  • pedagogy


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