Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Focus groups and diary analysis: Outreach mentors with high school mentees from refugee backgrounds (#173)

Ruth Tregale 1 , Sonal Singh 1
  1. Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

Mentoring is often conceptualised as a one-to-one interaction between peers or as an academic to student interaction, with the aim of developing self-esteem, connectedness, identity, and academic attitudes within one party. While various researchers have provided support for effectiveness of mentoring in fostering the aforementioned qualities, limited studies have looked at outreach mentoring programs and the effect they have on the comfort and connectedness that students feel to their university. Drawing on Social Identity Theory when a student feels comfortable in their environment, that feeling should assist them in achieving and maintaining a positive social identity and self-esteem.  This study examined the benefits of the LEAP Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) program to the university students within it, who mentor high school students from refugee backgrounds. Three focus groups with 21 university mentors and 56 observation diaries used by mentors were part of this study. Data was analysed using Nviov. Preliminary findings illustrate that for university mentors the mentoring program fostered a sense of belonging with the university community and increasing their academic self-efficacy and perceived value in education. Key findings highlighted that the LEAP – Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring) program supported university students  in making a smooth personal, social, and academic transition from high school to university, helped them develop leadership potential, and provided them with a connection to community and community service. Policy makers and universities should focus on connecting with students, building student engagement and preparing graduates through authentic learning experiences gained from volunteer programs such as LEAP – Macquarie Mentoring (Refugee Mentoring).

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

 Heightened concept of a community spirit within the University will help attract new students and retain new students. While the mentoring program helps them in this transition phase, it creates a sense of belonging to the university for mentors as there is a fit between values. The LEAP Macquarie Mentoring program provides mechanisms to provide sustained, goal-directed support to students from refugee background’s for higher education. Meeting students from refugee backgrounds and learning about their desire towards higher education, provides a motivation to the university student to succeed for their future. Findings highlight university students improve their communication and time management skills as mentors which will be useful for them in workplace. Students reported learning the value of education by seeing students from refugee background’s aspire and strive towards higher education. This article will address the theme of educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals through authentic learning process