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'It is the best thing you can do at uni': How volunteering as an AIME mentor enhances university students' learning and positively impacts their community

‘It is the best thing you can do at uni’: How volunteering as an AIME
mentor enhances university students’ learning and positively impacts their
Professor Valerie Harwood, Professor Paul Chandler, A/Professor Sarah O’Shea, Dr Sam
McMahon, all from School of Education and Early Start Research Institute, University of
Wollongong and Ms Amy Priestly, AIME
Mentoring of Indigenous school students by university students is an expanding initiative that
seeks to address the education ‘gap experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples. This Good Practice Report describes the benefits of universities providing
opportunities for their students to mentor Indigenous young people. We outline the research
problem then draw on findings from our three-year, mixed methods research project with
AIME (the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience) and university student mentors
mentors from 16 Australian universities. The implications of these findings for wider
university mentoring practice, especially as they relate to the conference themes of ‘students’,
‘achievement’ and ‘success’ will then be discussed.
It is widely agreed that it is difficult for Indigenous students to get to university and it is
extremely difficult for those who do enter to complete their degrees (Bradley, Noonan,
Nugent & Scales, 2008; Universities Australia, 2008). Indigenous students have lower
completion rates in secondary school education (MCEECDYA, 2010) and have been reported
as not being aware of university participation strategies (Hossain, Gorman, Williams-Mozley,
& Garvey, 2008). Participation rates at university are low, reported as being 1.3% with
extremely low rates of Indigenous PhD graduates (0.5%) (Evans & Carr, 2011). Indigenous
university attrition rates are alarming, with university departure statistics powerfully
highlighting the significance of this problem. This is evidenced by the most recent statistics
regarding university student retention rates: in 2013, 70.79 per cent of Indigenous university
students completed their enrolled university studies (and for those mid-progression,
continued their studies in 2014), compared with 80.83 per cent of all students (Australian
Government Department of Education and Training 2015a,b).
Patterns of educational disadvantage within the tertiary sector are now gradually beginning to
shift; the Commonwealth of Australia Department of Industry (2014) is now reporting an
increase in Indigenous student numbers across most broad fields of university education,
although students who self identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander still only
comprise one per cent of all enrolments in 2012. Despite these reported improvements, there
remains a significant underrepresentation particularly when we consider that Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people make up three per cent of the total Australian population
(Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2013). It should also be noted that more recent, and
successive Australian governments have emphasized the need for redressing the long-term
inequities in education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Yet scholarly
criticism suggests that these macro policy agendas have been too strongly embedded within
discourses of disadvantage and deficit (Altman, Biddle, & Hunter, 2009; Irabinna-Rigney,
University mentoring programs have become a popular technique for building Indigenous
young people’s knowledge and aspirations for higher education. Yet even with significant
financial and institutional investment, we still know very little about university student
mentoring with Indigenous school students. These mentoring initiatives are often part of
wider efforts aimed at improving university access. As such, the majority of these programs
are featured in ‘pathway’ programs designed by and for specific universities. Such programs
target students from low SES backgrounds, followed by those specifically for Indigenous
students and those from rural and remote locations (Gale, et al., 2010). There is a scarcity of
evaluative literature on the mentoring elements of these programs. Thematically, Gale et al.
(2010) identify that most of these mentoring programs are designed to familiarise students
with the higher education environment and/or raise individuals’ aspirations in relation to
university study. Many of the programs employ the use of mentors to provide both a role
model and induction into the university environment. However, while the AIME program
utilises mentors it is quite different to such university pathway programs.
AIME is the only mentoring program in Australia working with university students across
numerous university sites (Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland,
Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia) that targets Indigenous students at both
primary and secondary school levels. This program, created by Indigenous university
students in 2005, has expanded to a national program in 29 sites across Australia that
includes 16 of Australia’s 39 universities, with 1,526 university student mentors and 4,484
school student mentees (from 313 high schools). In 2014 across Australia, volunteer
university mentors provided 28,400 hours of free support to AIME mentees. Given this
national take-up, this project focussed on building understanding of this new stream of
educational intervention and investigates how mentoring by university students can be
delivered in more accessible forms supported by interactive communication technology.
The AIME organisation sits outside the school and higher education systems, funded
independently as a charity, enabling AIME to work across institutions. The program is
positively impacting on both school completion rates and also university admissions. The
impact of the AIME Program has been measured year on year within the organisation with
grade progressions and Year 12 completions statistics published in their Annual Reports.
AIME have reported four consecutive years of school progression and completion results that
are significantly higher than national Indigenous statistics. Table 1 indicates the rate of
progression across school years, the percentages of students who complete the final year of
high school (Year 12).
National Outcomes
AIME 2014
Year 10-11
Year 11-12
Year 12 completions
Table 1: Mentee progression and transition data from 2014, compared to their non-
Indigenous and Indigenous counterparts.
Source: AIME 2014 Annual Report (AIME 2015)
The statistics indicate that Indigenous students affiliated with AIME outperform their non-
AIME Indigenous counterparts in terms of school transitions and completions. Moreover, in
2014, the progression rates for Years 10-11 and completion rate for Year 12 were higher than
those for non-Indigenous Australians (AIME 2015). AIME is also positively impacting
Indigenous students’ participation in university. In 2014, 30.9% of AIME’s Year 12 students
transitioned to a university post school pathway (i.e. bachelor degrees or university college)
and commenced their studies in 2015. AIME is effectively closing the educational gap for its
How are university students involved in this successful mentoring program? The AIME
mentors are recruited from the various university sites that the program currently operates,
this is a significant number for example in 2014 the program recruited 1,526 mentors.
Reflecting the university student demographic, AIME mentors are mainly non-Indigenous
and there are more female than male mentors. The mentors are students from all university
faculties and programs and are predominantly studying at an undergraduate level. AIME staff
recruit university student mentors via O-week stalls, lecture presentations, college visits,
social media, and also by word of mouth. Interested students apply online, providing details
of why they wish to participate and presenting a case for what makes them a good AIME
mentor candidate and why they should be selected. All applications are assessed by the
AIME organisation and short follow-up phone interviews are conducted. Successful
applicants must complete online training sessions on Australian Indigenous history and child
protection policy and attend on-campus induction programs. The induction covers topics such
as cultural identity, mentoring techniques and provides information regarding the program
and the mentors role and responsibilities. However, training and learning about the program
and mentoring is an ongoing endeavour throughout participation; AIME mentors engage
briefing sessions at the beginning and end of each mentoring session. During these briefs
mentors are encouraged to discuss their mentoring experiences, any anxieties or concerns as
well as provide feedback on what they consider is working or not in the program.
AIME’s organisational culture can be likened to what Cameron and Quinn (2011) term as a
“clan culture”. Through a range of social media strategies and also, the AIME hoodies and
caps that are the mentors’ ‘uniform’; the organisation seeks to develop a collectivity based on
shared goals, values and beliefs. This collectivity is recognisable within AIME, which we
have observed as operating “like an extended family. Leaders are thought of as mentors and
perhaps even as parent figures…. Commitment is high. The organization emphasizes the
long-term benefit of individual development, with high cohesion and morale being
important.” (Cameron & Quinn, 2011, p.48). In this context, becoming an AIME mentor is
not simply about attending sessions with mentees but identifying with AIME, as a collective.
Our work with AIME spans the last five years and collectively provides insight into how
university students successfully engaged with their Indigenous school student mentees
(O’Shea, Harwood, Kervin & Humphry, 2013) and also how involvement with this program
impacts on both the mentors and mentees in a deeply embodied ways (O’Shea, McMahon,
Bodkin-Andrews, Priestly, & Harwood, 2015). This Good Practice Report will focus on our
understandings of how mentoring Indigenous high school students impacts upon university
mentors and consider how this understanding might be applied to universities’ capacity to
strategically impact broader social inclusion and promote student engagement and graduate
Project description
This is a large-scale mixed methods project that employs, survey, interview and ethnographic
methods. Funding was secured from the Australian Research Council (DP140103690) and
builds upon previous research into university undergraduate students’ mentoring of
Indigenous school students (funded by University Research Council, UOW 2011-13; Federal
Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary
Education, 2013 2015; Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
(DEEWR) 2012-2013). The wider AIME/UOW/UTS research partnership also evaluates the
impact of the program on the mentees and draws upon CI Harwood’s research into
imagination and perceptions of university participation by low socio-economic status (LSES)
young people (DP110104704).
Project rationale and focus
There is a growing body of literature that demonstrates how university students’ mentoring
via the AIME program can positively impact Indigenous young people (Bodkin-Andrews,
Harwood, McMahon & Priestly, 2013; Harwood et al. 2013, Harwood, McMahon, O’Shea,
Bodkin-Andrews & Priestly, 2015). 2015). However, there remains a dearth of understanding
regarding the university students’ role in the mentoring process. This Good Practice report
aims to explore what the university students’ learn from mentoring. We describe impacts on
mentors’ cultural awareness, how this has impacted their student experience and their
communities. Particularly, we also summarise their self-reported learning of university
graduate outcomes and skills from their experiences as an AIME mentor.
While there are few studies that robustly explain why and how university student mentoring
programs can work with Indigenous school students, there is a proliferation of research on
mentoring programs, generally. However, much of this research tends to focus on individual
programs and so is contextually bounded (Chuang, Thompson & Schmidt, 2003; Jacobi,
1991; Macullum, Beltman & Palmer, 2005). The introduction of mentor programs continues
to increase in the higher education sector (Chuang et al, 2003) but relatively little empirical
research explores this phenomenon in terms of mentor’s motivations and/or the personal
benefits derived from involvement (Beltman & Schaeben, 2012; Jacobi, 1991; Johnson, Rose,
& Schlosser, 2007). Within the higher education sector, a body of research explores
mentoring relationships between Faculty members and students (Chuang et al, 2003;
Komarraju, Musulkin & Bhattacharya, 2010; Lechuga, 2011) and also those between existing
and commencing students (Beltman & Schaeben, 2012; O’ Shea, 2012; Stanley & Lapsley,
2008). However, there little material on cross-sectorial mentoring amongst peers such as
young undergraduate university students and high school students so this Good Practice
Report will specifically focus on how the AIME mentors articulated their personal outcomes
from participating in this program.
Project design
The study is nationally focussed and includes a mix of qualitative in-depth interviews with
mentors, pre and post mentor surveys, fieldwork observations of AIME programs in all states
as well interviews as with mentees involved in the program. The following table indicates the
range and depth of data that the project has gathered:
Data Type
Mentor interviews
Mentor group
Mentor surveys
interviews in
individual and
small friendship
group sessions
Mentee surveys
Mentor post-
program survey
Ongoing literature review conducted on approaches to mentoring
Table 2 Details of data collection
* Three of these interviews were with graduates of the AIME program who now attend
university and have become AIME mentors.
This Good Practice Report will focus specifically on the mentor survey data supporting our
most recent publication (O’Shea, McMahon, Bodkin-Andrews, Priestly & Harwood. 2016)
and yet to be published analysis of the 2014 and 2015 mentor interviews.
The survey data reported in our most recent publication (O’Shea et al. 2016) pertains to
university student learning from AIME. This publication primarily informs the outcomes and
implications sections of this report. This data survey reported represents 129 surveys;
respondents included 118 non-Indigenous and 11 Indigenous university mentors, from 13
different university sites across Australia.
The survey included a total of 31 question items that explored various facets of the program
and the mentors’ perceptions of participating. The analysis of survey data presented here
focuses on five key questions from the survey, which aimed to explore the mentor’s self-
reported learning from their AIME experience, these questions are outlined in Table 3.
Question 16
What did you learn from AIME?
Question 22
How has participation in AIME influenced how you connect and serve the
wider community?
Question 23
What have the Mentees taught you?
Question 24*
Has participation in AIME increased any of the following skills and
attributes? Please choose as many as you want.
Ethical responsibility
Cultural and social awareness
Respect of Indigenous knowledge,
cultures and values
Knowledge of a field outside of your
Communication skills
Desire to implement constructive change
in your community
Critical thinking skills
Leadership skills
Problem solving skills
Teamwork skills
Question 29
What is your message to other uni students who want to get involved in
Table 3 Focus questions from the post-program AIME mentor survey
*The skills and attributes listed in question 24 were compiled in a two-step process. First, we
compiled a list of graduate attributes/qualities/skills from all Australian University websites.
This list then underwent a frequency count and was themed for overlapping concepts.
Overlapping themes were then collapsed further into the list presented here.
Data from the surveys was imported into NVivo10 and the qualitative comments were
inductively themed. Axial coding was then conducted to provide insight into how responses
related to the mentors’ demographic information and mentoring experience. In addition,
frequency counts in were conducted on the closed items to generate descriptive statistics.
The 74 interviews (comprising 33 interviews from 2014 and 41 interviews from 2105 mentor
interviews) were in-depth and particularly encouraged the mentors to reflect upon their
reasons for becoming involved in the program and how they perceived the benefits of this
involvement. Specifically, mentors were asked questions relating to two broad themes
namely 1) their perceptions of the AIME mentoring model and 2) the ways in which AIME
participation impacted upon their own university experience. Examples of questions include
the following:
Can you describe a typical mentoring session for example, how do you prepare, how
do you start the mentoring session, how do you engage your mentee etc
Why do you think the AIME mentoring model engages with young mentees?
What types of impacts has being an AIME mentor had on you?
How has AIME mentoring impacted upon your overall university experience?
All the mentor interviews were transcribed in full and, similarly to the surveys, the qualitative
data was imported into NVivo (10). Attributes were assigned to each transcript to enable data
searches by; whether or not the mentors identified as Indigenous, gender, age, state, regional
and metropolitan geography, field of university study and years of experience as an AIME
mentor. Transcripts were initially coded by responses to each question and according to the
themes of the existing wider interview and qualitative survey dataset. The thematic codes are
regularly interrogated by project team members as the project develops, allowing for new
codes to emerge inductively from the data and also, for some codes to be collapsed and
reframed. The findings presented from analysis of interview data in this report relate
primarily to preliminary analysis of mentors’ responses to the question: How has AIME
mentoring impacted on your overall university experience?
Project deliverables and outcomes
Students – Strategies for broader social inclusion
Findings reported in our latest publication (O’Shea et al., 2016) reveal that much university
student mentor learning is occurring through mentoring Indigenous young people in the
AIME program, with analysis indicating that mentor learning occurs in three key ways:
First, their learning is described to be of great scale. Here the case is made that the
mentors are often learning “more” than the mentees.
Secondly, the content of the mentors’ learning is important. Much of the mentors’
learning centered on developing knowledge and appreciation of Indigenous Australian
culture, a growing awareness of social injustices experienced by Indigenous
Australians and a move away from prior knowledge characterised by racist
stereotypes. In this sense, graduate qualities regarding a sense of social justice and
inclusiveness are being met.
Thirdly, what is both surprising and exceptional, are the mentors’ reports of how this
new knowledge is being applied to benefit the wider community, via both the changed
nature and capacity of their volunteer work and their proactive attempts to remedy
racism in their professional and personal lives.
Achievement – Strategies for promoting employability
Australian universities strive to ensure their graduates are employable, especially in terms of
mapping their university learning against personal qualities and competencies valued by
employers and society (Barrie, 2004). The survey respondents were asked if participation in
AIME had increased any of their skills and attributes (according to a synthesised list of
university graduate qualities). To varying degrees, the university students reported that their
experiences mentoring Indigenous young people at AIME positively impacted all listed
graduate qualities and outcomes (see Table 4).
Skills, knowledge and attributes
Number of positive
responses (%)
N = 129
Cultural and social awareness
112 (86.8)
Respect of Indigenous knowledge, cultures and values
104 (80.6)
Desire to implement constructive change in your community
87 (67.4)
Communication skills
84 (65.1)
82 (63.6)
Leadership skills
79 (61.2)
Teamwork skills
79 (61.2)
Ethical responsibility
66 (51.2)
59 (45.7)
Problem solving skills
47 (36.4)
44 (34.1)
38 (29.5)
Critical thinking skills
38 (29.5)
Table 4 Graduate qualities enhanced through experiences at AIME: responses to
question 24 of the survey *Table sourced from O’Shea et al. (2016)
Mentors also reported that their learning from AIME impacted upon their professional
practices and aspirations (O’Shea et al. 2016). For example, leading the implementation of a
workforce diversity or Indigenous employment / training program at their places or work, or
aspiring to working with Indigenous people in their post-university careers (e.g., choosing to
teaching at schools with high Indigenous populations).
Success – student engagement
Preliminary analysis of the 2014/2015 mentor interview data triangulates mentor claims to
improved graduate qualities, especially in terms of improved cultural and social awareness,
and respect of Indigenous knowledge, cultures and values, as well as improved confidence
and communication skills. Overall, apart from the expected talk about the positive feelings
associated with self-identified altruism, there was comment on how AIME relates to the
mentors university experience centres. This comment centred on themes about:
Applying learning from their degree coursework (e.g., Indigenous studies, teaching,
nursing, marketing and science degrees)
Learning new things about Indigenous people, culture and history and how this differs
from their own experiences.
Developing friendship networks and achieving a sense of belonging to both the AIME
and university communities (especially meeting people from other faculties and
degree levels).
Value-adding to their resume. Mentors believed that volunteering during university
gave a competitive edge in the employment process post university.
Balancing stressful and demanding university coursework with fun experienced when
Increasing motivation to engage with and remain in university coursework studies.
For some mentors, hearing Indigenous peoples stories of educational disadvantage
helped them realize the value of their opportunity for university education, which they
found motivating. For others, motivation was expressed as a byproduct of achieving a
better ‘balance’ of university life through the fun and friendships experienced at the
AIME program.
Wider application of deliverables or outcomes
Mentoring with AIME has positively impacted university students’ learning, ability to impact
social inclusion, engagement in university and success in developing graduate skills and
attributes. Given this we recommend that provision of opportunities for university students
to mentor Indigenous young people and learn about Indigenous people, cultures and history is
good practice for universities. However, we would add the strong caveat that these mentoring
and learning opportunities should be designed and led by Indigenous people, as this is key to
the positive impacts of the AIME experience (Harwood et al., 2013; 2015).
When presenting findings about the mentors learning at a recent equity practitioners’
conference, an Indigenous Elder pointed out that the scope of the mentors learning points to a
‘tragic’ lack of Indigenous studies being taught throughout primary and secondary school.
That they learned so much, pointed to the fact that they knew so little and this was a sad state
of affairs. Whilst there is a big push both in educational policy and Indigenous Education
scholarship for this to change in schooling, it is important to recognize that universities have
the capacity, and we would argue ethical responsibility, to engender significant learning for
their students around cultural and social awareness and respect for Indigenous knowledges,
cultures and values at university.
We suggest that Indigenous mentoring programs are effective vehicles for learning and
enhancing the university experience and graduate quality. These Indigenous mentoring
programs not only provide vital educational experiences for mentees but are also effective
vehicles for learning and enhancing the university experience and should be recognised as
such. One such recognition could be through acknowledgement of this type of participation
on university transcripts that includes the clear articulation of the scope of mentors’ learning.
As our research notes, this not only includes the considerable community service time and
effect provided by AIME mentors, but equally the contribution to achieving graduate
qualities and outcomes.
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The negative trend of enrolment of Indigenous students into tertiary study indicates gaps between their current achievement and knowledge levels and university requirements for admission. This study was designed to determine the perceived needs, attitudes and knowledge of Indigenous secondary school students when considering admission to university; investigate remedial strategies in order to make university a more attractive choice for Indigenous students; and ascertain the types of assistance and support the Indigenous students would like to receive in order to meet the enrolment requirements as well as completion of study at university. Focus groups were conducted with 50 Indigenous students in Years 10 to 12 within the Toowoomba District and surveys conducted with 30 first year Indigenous undergraduate and Indigenous Higher Education Pathways Program (IHEPP) students at the University of Southern Queensland. The findings of the research illustrated that the school students were not aware of the IHEPP and university programs. Scholarships and bursaries need to be developed and publicised. Tutorial assistance and learning support (e.g., assignment preparation, multicultural activities, childcare facilities, group accommodation) needs to be promoted. Furthermore, there is a need for the university to establish and maintain relationships with local Indigenous communities and understand the “cultural dimension” impacting on Indigenous students and their families.
Full-text available
A strong feature of the widening participation agenda is improving the aspirations of groups that are underrepresented in higher education. This paper seeks to reposition the utility of this as a focal point of educational interventions by showcasing the success of a mentoring program that takes a different approach. The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) significantly and positively impacts Australian Indigenous high school students’ aspirations to finish school and continue to further study, training or employment. AIME is not read as a classic intervention program for raising aspirations. Instead, AIME builds upon the cultural wealth of participants and adopts an approach that seeks to inspire individuals rather than remediate them. The paper draws on survey data and fieldwork to present an example case study for resisting the assumption that young people’s aspirations are deficit and in need of ‘improving’. The paper describes how AIME works within young people’s ‘windows of aspiration’ to positively impact their engagement in school and further education, training and employment.
Full-text available
With the proliferation of formal mentoring programs in schools it is important to understand the nature of mentoring and the outcomes that can be expected. This paper examines the findings of a national pilot project of mentoring programs for indigenous students, and interprets them in terms of motivation and the socio-cultural contexts which supported the mentoring relationship. The pilot projects were implemented in 53 school sites around Australia. The evaluation used multiple methods, including document analysis, checklists and semi-structured interviews with participants. The findings showed that students who were supported by a mentor (usually one-to-one) for as little as one hour per week displayed and reported increased self-confidence, enhanced valuing of school and increased participation in classroom tasks. Students also improved relationships with peers, teachers and family members. The paper discusses the socially supported nature of the mentoring relationship and its role in community building.
Full-text available
PurposeGenerally, theory and research investigating the effectiveness of mentoring has offered little resounding evidence to attest to mentoring programmes being a strategic initiative that make a real difference in reducing the educational inequities many minority students endure. In contrast to this existing research base, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) has often been cited as one of the most successful mentoring initiatives within Australia. It is the purpose of this chapter to examine how AIME may impact on the educational aspirations and school self-concept of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. MethodologyA series of multi-group analyses were centred around Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and structural equation modelling techniques that sought not only to explore the psychometric validity of the measures utilized within this study, but also to identify how the measures may be related after accounting for background variables (e.g. gender, parental education). FindingsThe results found that the measures utilized held strong psychometric properties allowing an increased level of confidence in the measures used and the conclusion that may be drawn from their use in analyses. Overall, the results suggested that AIME is an effective tool for increasing not only the educational aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students but also their levels (and utility) of School Self-concept and School Enjoyment. ImplicationsThe implications suggest that not only is AIME an essential tool for closing the educational gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal students, but also our understanding of mentoring must be extended well beyond simplistic notions of role-modelling.
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Extensive research has shown the benefits of mentoring, including peer mentoring, for higher education students, especially in their first year. However, few studies have focussed exclusively on the outcomes for the mentors themselves. This paper reports the findings of data gathered over three years about a university-wide peer mentoring program. Benefits identified by 858 mentors were coded inductively and four major categories emerged: altruistic, cognitive, social and personal growth. The findings have implications for the promotion of mentor programs to administrators and to prospective mentors. The study provides evidence that university-wide peer mentoring programs offer multiple positive outcomes for the mentors involved, and potentially for higher education institutions administering and supporting such programs.
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Student–faculty interactions can be crucial in developing students’ academic self-concept and enhancing their motivation and achievement. Colleges and universities that actively foster close and frequent contact between their students and faculty members are more likely to reap a host of benefits from such initiatives. Faculty members taking an interest in their students’ academic progress could potentially make significant contributions in increasing their intellectual and professional development (Anaya & Cole, 2001; Chickering, 1969; Chickering & Reisser, 1993; Cokley, 2000; Terenzini & Pascarella, 1980). There is evidence that students successful in knowing even one faculty member closely are likely to feel more satisfied with their college life and aspire to go further in their careers (Rosenthal et al., 2000). Although most interactions with faculty tend to occur within the formal classroom setting, students who experience informal interactions tend to be more motivated, engaged, and actively involved in the learning process (Thompson, 2001; Woodside, Wong, & Weist, 1999). Informal interaction between students and faculty has been identified as a primary agent of college culture, and has an important influence on the attitudes, interests, and values of college students (Chickering & Reisser, 1993; Lambert, Terinzini, & Lattuca, 2007; Pascarella, 1980b; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005; Thompson, 2001). However, although previous research has established that student–faculty interactions are important, we still need to identify which aspects of student–faculty interactions are helpful and how these could significantly influence students to stay in college, increase their desire to work hard, stimulate them to enjoy learning, and encourage them to strive toward high achievement standards (Bean, 1985). The current study addresses this gap in the literature by examining eight specific types of student–faculty interactions as predictors of academic self-concept and three types of academic motivation, as well as academic achievement in a sample of college students from a medium-sized, public university located in the Midwestern United States. In examining why some students might interact more with faculty members and why some faculty may seem more approachable to students, it is important to acknowledge that a need for belonging, for frequent positive interactions, and to feel cared for by others is a fundamental human need (Baumeister & Leary, 1995 ). Interactions between students and faculty members are inevitable and personal connections that emerge through advisement and mentoring are highly valued (Light, 2001). In responding to several implicit, unspoken, and nonverbal cues, students are more likely to interact with faculty members perceived to be sociable, intelligent, showing leadership, supportive, and objective (Babad, Avni-Babad, & Rosenthal, 2003; Furnham & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2005). Faculty members allowing students to use their first names are perceived as higher in warmth, approachability, and respect in comparison to faculty members who are addressed by formal titles (McDowell & Westman, 2005). Student–faculty interactions can be formal or informal, occurring either inside or outside instructional settings, with both playing an important role in determining students’ academic success (Jacobi, 1991). The most frequent type of contact that students have with faculty members typically include situations in which they are asking for information about a course or visiting after class (Kuh & Hu, 2001). Faculty–student interactions could take on a more intense flavor in a tutorial-style classroom, where a faculty member may meet with two students at a time for an hour, eventually interacting closely with about five such pairs of students per week (Smallwood, 2002). Such close, intense, interaction seems to enhance student learning and intellectual stimulation, with both students and faculty valuing the opportunity to know each other at an informal and personal level. Cox and Orehovec (2007) identified four major types of student–faculty interactions with the most important, “functional interaction,” referring to academic-related interactions outside the classroom. The other three types include personal interactions about some personal issues unrelated to academics, incidental contact maintained by occasional greetings, and finally disengagement, where there is minimal interaction with the faculty member inside the classroom and little or no interpersonal exchange. However, all types of student–faculty interactions are not equally beneficial for the student (Ei & Bowen, 2002). Students report valuing interactions involving group activities and business relationships; at the same time, they consider sexual relationships, doing favors, and spending time alone as inappropriate. Further...
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For many years universities around the world have sought to articulate the nature of the education they offer to their students through a description of the generic qualities and skills their graduates possess. Despite the lengthy history of the rhetoric of such policy claims, universities' endeavours to describe generic attributes of graduates continue to lack a clear theoretical or conceptual base and are characterized by a plurality of view-points. Furthermore, despite extensive funding in some quarters, overall, efforts to foster the development of generic attributes appear to have met with limited success. Recent research has shed some light on this apparent variability in policy and practice. It is apparent that Australian university teachers charged with responsibility for developing students' generic graduate attributes do not share a common understanding of either the nature of these outcomes, or the teaching and learning processes that might facilitate the development of these outcomes. Instead academics hold qualitatively different conceptions of the phenomenon of graduate attributes. This paper considers how the qualitatively different conceptions of graduate attributes identi®ed in this research have been applied to the challenge of revising a university's policy statement specifying the generic attributes of its graduates. The paper outlines the key ®ndings of the research and then describes how the university's revision of its policy statement has built upon this research, adopting a research-led approach to academic development. The resultant two-tiered policy is presented and the key academic development processes associated with the disciplinary contextualization of this framework are considered. The discussion explores some of the implications of this novel approach to structuring a university's policy, in particular, the variation in the relationship between discipline knowledge and generic attributes which was a key feature of the qualitative variation in understandings identi®ed in the research.
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This paper provides a review of the literature that documents technology mentoring models used in higher education and K-12 schools. Various mentoring models from teacher education programs and K-12 schools are described. After summarizing the mentoring models, a description of commonalties found among these mentoring programs are shared. Despite the variety of technology mentoring models, effective programs include common elements. These elements include providing visions for technology use, individualizing technology support, breaking down hierarchical structure, establishing learning communities, and providing mutual benefits for mentors and mentees.
Despite a growing body of research about mentoring, definitional, theoretical, and methodological deficiencies reduce the usefulness of existing research. This article provides a critical review of the literature on mentoring, with an emphasis on the links between mentoring and undergraduate academic success. The first section describes a variety of ways in which mentoring has been defined within higher education, management, and psychology. Issues related to developing a standard operational definition of mentoring within higher education are discussed. The second section provides a critical review of empirical research about mentoring and undergraduate education. The third section describes four different theoretical perspectives that could be used in future research about mentoring. Finally, future directions for research, including methodological issues and substantive concerns, are addressed.
Practical reconciliation’ and more recently ‘closing the gap’ have been put forward as frameworks on which to base and evaluate policies to address Indigenous disadvantage. This paper analyses national-level census-based data to examine trends in Indigenous wellbeing since 1971. There has been steady improvement in most socioeconomic outcomes in the last 35 years; a finding at odds with the current discourse of failure. Evidence of convergence between Indigenous and non-Indigenous outcomes, however, is not consistent. For some outcomes, relatively rapid convergence is predicted (within 25 years), but for the majority of outcomes, convergence is unlikely to occur within a generation, if at all.