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Title: The impact of peer mentoring in UK higher education
Author: Phillips, Rosalyn May
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 2378
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2009
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The present thesis is an investigation into the impact and role of formal peer mentoring programmes as retention and enrichment strategies within UK Higher Education. Reviews of the literature highlighted several limitations within the empirical evidence for benefits of mentoring schemes. This thesis systematically evaluated the availability and impact of peer mentoring schemes within UK Higher Education. Firstly, a new measure of wellbeing was constructed and validated in student samples. A UK wide survey of 94 Universities supported the notion of increasing popularity of formal peer mentoring schemes and demonstrated the perceived benefits of peer mentoring as a retention strategy. Employing a theoretically driven longitudinal methodology a controlled comparison between first year students’ attending a UK university with a peer mentoring scheme versus a university without a peer mentoring scheme further substantiated the benefits of peer mentoring. Those within the peer mentoring university were three times less likely to think of dropping out of university, were coping better with the transition to university and were better adapted to university life: an important predictor in intention to leave. The relationship between peer mentoring and intention to leave was mediated by integration in university as proposed by Jacobi (1991). In support of the ‘buffering’ hypothesis existence of peer mentors moderated the relationship between predicted changes in social support, affect and self esteem during the transition to university. Within the fourth research study of first year students at a Scottish university; attitudes towards the introduction of a peer mentoring scheme within a university without such a scheme was investigated. Results indicated a positive perception of mentoring, with no student stating that they would not seek advice from a peer mentor if one was available. Although individuals who were experiencing greater levels of stress and homesickness were more likely to indicate they would use a peer mentor demographic variables did not differentiate between individuals who wanted peer mentors and those who felt less need. The most important attributes of a peer mentor for this sample of 158 first year students were commitment to the scheme and listening skills. Finally the impact of formal peer mentoring schemes within Higher Education was assessed from the perspective of the mentor, employing a qualitative (focus group) methodology at a university with an established peer mentoring scheme. Multiple benefits were indicated including personal, emotional, and academic advantages of becoming a mentor. All of the mentors within this study highlighted numerous motives for becoming a mentor although most important was their own previous experience (negative and positive) of the peer mentoring scheme. The results of each study are discussed in line with previous literature, limitations of the research and suggestions for future research. This thesis concludes that formal peer mentoring schemes can have a positive impact on the mentees, mentors and institutions involved and specifies nine recommendations for policy and practice.
Supervisor: Swanson, Vivien Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mentoring ; Student retention ; Student transition ; Student wellbeing ; Education ; Higher Great Britain ; Mentoring in education ; College dropouts Prevention ; Well-being