When did you first introduce the innovation?
Between 12 and 24 months ago.
Please describe the innovation you have developed
The peer mentoring scheme is introduced to all level 4 podiatry students during the induction week. Group mentoring was implemented as it was thought that this would give students the opportunity to, not only create a peer relationship with their mentor but also, establish a support network through working with other new students. The groups consist of 3-4 mentees to one mentor, and the mentors meet with their mentees once a week throughout the first term (September – December). In many cases the mentoring relationships have continued beyond this time. The scheme was run in collaboration with the level 4 Podiatry Tutor and the UEL Peer Mentoring Co-ordinator. Training is compulsory for both the mentee and mentor and comprises of a single training session run by the Peer Mentoring Co-ordinator. Support is provided by the Peer Mentoring Co-ordinator and also by the level 4 Podiatry Tutor. The training includes comprehensive information on the university support services that mentors can refer mentees onto, aims of the scheme and how it works, and the benefits of participation for both mentors and mentees. One of the most important areas focused on is making sure that all mentors know exactly what is expected of them and how to effectively manage boundaries within their mentoring relationships.
What prompted you to develop this innovation?
The main aim of the peer mentioning scheme was to provide support to new students to enable them a smoother transition from their previous Education Institutions. For a large number of students, making the decision to attend university can be a major step in their lives and for some, university is their first educational environment for many years. The conflicting feelings of anxiety and excitement that accompany this decision indicate that for many, the transition into university life is far from easy. The first few days and weeks of the first term can potentially be one of the most challenging experiences a new university student has to face. This is the period at which the level 4 podiatry students have previously been seen to leave the Podiatry course.
In your view, what is it about this innovation that makes it different/important?
Group mentoring is implemented to not only create a peer relationship with their mentor but also, establish a support network through working with other new students. Peer mentors are there to offer support to the mentees through sharing their own experiences and ideas, answering questions, and offering encouragement. They are there to help the new students become familiar with the university environment by assisting them in becoming ‘independent learners’. Due to the diversity of students recruited onto the Podiatry degree programme it is important students are provided with the support to be able to progress through their degree. Peer mentoring provides new students with a safe environment to gain the support, they require, but it also gives the mentors a greater opportunity to develop a range of new skills in the process.
To what extent does your innovation make use of existing approaches, resources or technologies?
Current level 5 and 6 students, along with their experiences, are used within this innovation. Students will communicate with their peers through email as well as face to face.
The UEL peer mentoring team have a number of resources on their website which students can access during their engagement with the peer mentoring process.
To what degree has this innovation led to changes in education or clinical practice?
Since introducing the peer mentoring programme into the Podiatry programme, we have seen an increase in student retention in the first year of the degree course. Peer support means that students rely less on academic staff.
Below are two quotes, one from a level 4 student (Mentee) and a level 5 student (Mentor)
A quote from a level 4 podiatry student. (Mentee)
‘My mentor answered all my questions without making me feel foolish and she was able to point me in the direction of study help within the university that would have taken me far longer to discover on my own. I think if I didn’t have a mentor I would have felt too overwhelmed and would have possibly left the course.The most important thing for me has been the continuity of our relationship. Not only was my mentor there in the first few weeks of settling in, but she has also seen me through my first set of exams, offering support, guidance and encouragement all the way. As time has gone on I am more confident but she remains my mentor. It is always a delight when we meet and she always offers encouragement. I sincerely hope that next year I will be able to offer the same support and encouragement to a new student as my mentor has shown to me’.
A quote from a level 5 podiatry student. (Mentor)
‘I found myself being stimulated, motivated and growing both as a student and individual. The ‘fresh eyes approach’ of the mentees helped me look at things differently too. The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that mentoring would benefit the mentees, whilst the exercise can be recorded on the mentor’s CV. However, there are also the invaluable benefits of it being extremely rewarding, on so many levels, for the mentors. The experience is also a very concrete example of one of the possible duties to be carried out once I qualify as a Podiatrist’
What evidence do you have of the impact of the innovation?
The group peer mentoring innovation was submitted to Health Education North Central and East London as part of the QCPM process. Publication of this can be found at http://ncel.hee.nhs.uk/files/2015/03/QCPM-Innovation-Projects_Mar-2015_FINAL.pdf
Evaluation of the scheme, by the mentees and mentors, has been carried out and has gained some positive feedback..
Feedback from mentees included:
‘My mentor has been wonderful and inspirational. She has been a good listener and has been guiding me and my fellow mentees from the start’.
‘They were always ready to help us and was prompt at answering our emails. She made my first year at university less daunting. I knew I could count on her when I needed someone to reassure me. She gave us good advice and this will stand us in good stead for the next two years’
‘I really enjoyed my experience as a mentee and my mentor has inspired me to become a mentor myself’.
Feedback from mentors included:
‘I feel I have more confidence now and have become more organised. By being a mentor it re-enforced my own knowledge’.
‘I was able to reflect on how far I had come in a year. Great satisfaction from developing others and motivating them through initial tough times’.
‘One mentee was going to drop out in the first few weeks but I encouraged them to stay on the course – which they did. Being a mentor has provided me with lots of opportunities to develop my skills, which I know will be important when I graduate as a Podiatrist’
To what degree has the innovation been disseminated in your organisation or elsewhere?
The following article was published:
Morrison, S., Duguid, C, and Bailey, S. (2014) Peer mentoring in higher education. Podiatry Now, 17(11), pp. 30-31.
Peer Mentoring – Podiatry Group Mentoring at the University of East London was presented as a case study at the European Mentoring and Coaching Council Conference in September 2014.
We are currently in the process of producing a video about the peer mentoring scheme. This will be uploaded onto the University website.
Please provide details of any plans you have to disseminate the innovation in the future.
We will continue to use peer mentoring within Podiatry and are looking at carrying out a more robust evaluation (qualitative research project) of the scheme. We hope to disseminate this at the University’s Learning and Teaching conference and other Learning and Teaching conferences nationally.