Monday, April 3, 2023 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM
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Teaching Resources for Academic Mentoring (TRAM): A novel group based online approach to academic mentoring.
Academic mentoring, or personal tutoring, is a key role that all academics are required to engage with. The nature and practicalities of the role will vary dependent on each Higher Education Institution (HEIs) and each academic's approach, however, most HEIs mandate that academic mentors/personal tutors meet with their mentees approx. 2 times per term minimum with each meeting timed to last approx. 15-30 minutes. The purpose of the meetings is to review students’ academic progress, to support students' academic development and to help with accessing personal support.
Despite the clear potential value of these meetings for students, often students’ attendance at these meetings is poor and their perceptions of the meetings is that they lack value. In this talk, a novel method to academic mentoring is discussed where online weekly group academic mentoring meetings are held throughout students' first year which are linked to key academic skills students need to develop (e.g., referencing, working with feedback, revising etc.). The impact of this approach on both staff and students in terms of attendance and sense of community is discussed and a website is detailed which has been created to share resources from these meetings (i.e., "cribsheets" for academic mentoring/personal tutoring staff) for all academic staff to use in academic mentoring / tutoring roles.
The Emergence of Credit-Bearing University Courses on Personal Well-being—and How to Design Your Own
A novel development in university curricula in the twenty-first century has been the emergence of credit-bearing courses that explore happiness and personal well-being. These courses often reach their maximum enrollment capacity, which is perhaps to be expected given students’ advocacy today for more mental health support services from their institutions of higher education. Grounded in principles of positive psychology, well-being courses emphasize the cultivation of positive emotions across various aspects of one’s life such as the personal, relational, academic, and professional. Scholarly assessment of these courses, including their impact on students’ development, have appeared in psychology and education journals but not in the literature on academic advising. This is surprising since advisors are increasingly attentive to students’ mental health needs and even liaise with university and off-campus services on students’ behalf. It is probable that advisors at universities which offer such courses are discussing enrollment in them with their advisees but these particular advising conversations have yet to be noted in the literature.
The aim of this talk is to inform academic advisors of the impact that these courses are having on students in different university systems in the US, UK, and Asia. This information should encourage advisors to scrutinize and recommend well-being courses available in their own institutions. From this presentation, advisors will recognize that the content of such courses—such as goal-setting and time-management for academic achievement, self-reflection, peer-to-peer or small group discussions of prevalent mental health issues—overlap many advising conversations and practices. Which leads to the conclusion that academic advisors are well-placed to be collaborators with faculty or professional staff such as counselors in the design and even delivery of these courses. Drawing upon the literature on well-being courses and my own experience in creating two of them for Yale-NUS College in Singapore, the latter part of the presentation will address the practical considerations to be taken by advisors when designing a well-being course to be delivered out of their own department or in collaboration with faculty.
An intersectional approach to underpin learning in higher education
The term ‘intersectionality’ was first used as a black feminist response to 1970s’ second-wave feminism in the USA, which was argued to be a white, middle-class construct that did not fit the black experience. It has moved on since then but has only slowly been recognised in higher education.
Hill, Collins & Bilge (2016:25) have suggested that “race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nation, ability and age … [are all] reciprocally constructing phenomena that, in turn, shape complex inequalities.” We argue that this list should include specific learning differences like dyslexia and neurodiversities like autistic spectrum conditions.
The experience of many students in higher education is underpinned by marginalised cognitive processing which is biological in nature but impacts heavily on the student’s psychological narrative. Added to this may be the sociological impact of structural disadvantage which accompanies Hill et al.’s list of race, class, gender, etc. additionally including students who have come from the care system. It is, perhaps, most useful to acknowledge that we are all clusters of experiences. Being dyslexic, say, or a student from care cannot be seen in separate bubbles: dyslexic students may perhaps have mental health issues and/or be wheelchair users; the student from care may be deaf; the student from a non-traditional background may also be gay. The way these differences intersect in individuals is important to how they learn and how we teach and support them; as Hatton (2019:8) argued, “diversity initiatives must always embrace intersectional thinking and should not be wary of addressing the needs of a whole population of students.”
In this lightning talk presentation, we explore Shone’s (2020) VLR approach to learning and teaching. We discuss the importance of validation (moving from ‘what’s wrong with me’ to ‘what’s wrong with the system’), linking (helping the student to become aware of, and understand, their own cognitive processing and their own social circumstances), and reframing (developing metacognition, liberation and transferable skills). In this way students can evolve into what Pollak (2005) termed a ‘campaigner’ student who is able to externalise difficulties to take control of their own learning. But, additionally, the academic benefits, as Hooks (1994), argues the academic tutor benefits: any learning environment that develops and empowers the student, also empowers and develops the teacher.
This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
C5 - How equitable and inclusive environments are created and maintained
I6 - Campus and community resources that support student success
R1 - Build advising and tutoring relationships through empathetic listening and compassion for students, and be accessible in ways that challenge, support, nurture, and teach
R7 - Collaborate effectively with campus services to provide support to students
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners
P3 - Commit to students, colleagues, and their institutions through engagement in continuing professional development, scholarly enquiry, and the evaluation of professional practices