Lightning Talks

Sara Galletly (Swansea University)
Wendy Francis (Swansea University)
Nigel Page (Kingston University London)

Monday, April 3, 2023 12:30 PM - 1:15 PM

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Session Outline

Putting the human first: Advising and tutoring postgraduate health professional students during a global pandemic.

Sara Galletly (Swansea University)

Objective: To explore how human centered advising and tutoring (academic mentoring) supported postgraduate work based learning students working on the NHS frontline to continue studying during the covid pandemic.

At Swansea University, we provide part-time work-based learning programmes to registered healthcare professionals with at least 2 years' experience in healthcare. At the outset of the pandemic, our learners were thrown onto the front line of the biggest public health crisis of the modern era. Their well-being suffered as they worked long hours and were often redeployed to covid-positive environments (Lowes, 2020). With leave cancelled, they had every reason to quit their studies. Yet, the opposite happened. Far from being disposable, their studies became a lifeline. Academic mentoring and supervision meetings became their only opportunity to decompress outside of the workplace. It became a sanctuary, a space to reflect on their ‘unprecedented’ situation and for personal and professional growth. As a result, our approach changed, adapting to the evolving needs of our learners.

This lightning talk critically reflects on the approach academic mentors intuitively took, reviewing the ways in which practice changed to provide a more inclusive learning environment for work based learners on the covid frontline (Yale, 2019; Hughes & Byrom, 2019). The talk outlines the humanistic approach to academic mentoring which was adopted and how compassionate leadership played a key role in supporting both learners and colleagues. Structure and flexibility was key to inclusive practice when considering how work based learners can be best supported during such a challenging time in the workplace. Finally, the academic mentoring journey of the work based learning team is reflected upon, how our approach to facilitating learning has developed to enable our work based student community to be continually supported to succeed academically during the ongoing challenges faced in the workplace.


Student and academic mentor perspectives of academic mentoring in Biomedical Sciences BSc degree programmes

Wendy Francis (Swansea University)

Academic mentoring at BSc level can be an effective method for improving student self-efficacy and sense of belonging, enhancing student development and academic performance, as well as supporting transition into further study or employment. Academic mentors are ideally placed to identify students early who are at risk of not progressing due to poor engagement or attainment. Despite this, some students and staff do not recognise the benefits of academic mentoring and often complain of poor engagement and/or attendance. This study aimed to investigate academic mentoring from both staff and student perspectives within Biomedical Science BSc degree programmes. As part of a final year BSc dissertation project, a questionnaire was distributed to all year 2 & 3 students and academic mentors within these programmes. The study focused on the effectiveness of current provision and aimed to identify needs and requirements to improve the provision and structure of academic mentoring. It also ascertained some of the challenges that create barriers to effective mentoring. By understanding staff and student perspectives of academic mentoring, issues and challenges can be identified and potential solutions can be put in place.


A tutee peer support network to encourage inclusion and dialogue

Nigel Page (Kingston University London)

The role of personal tutors is often cited as crucial in facilitating professional and personal development, supporting academic progress, and well-being and engagement. Yet, the effectiveness and consistency in value and support gained can be variable and dependent on the success of individualised relationships. Evidence from our university dashboards (2018-2021) in the biosciences indicated that of those students who were engaging with tutor-led personal development, 75% of the white population engaged and only 51% and 53% of the Black or other mixed race population were engaging, respectively. This difference was particularly acute during the COVID-19 pandemic. This indicated there was a structural bias within our bioscience tutor scheme that was benefitting a certain group of students.

Personal development journeys rely deeply on students being supported to develop their own self-awareness and positive self-identify. However, in our biosciences, 85% of our students identified as ethnically diverse (Asian, Black, and mixed race) whereas most tutors were white. In the literature, Lewis (2022) evidenced Black students can feel excluded and less clear where to start in considering their career goals, aspirations, academic progress, which highlights the importance of equitable support for all tutees. These differences in tutor-led personal development engagement led us to review and consider what an inclusive personal tutor scheme (PTS) should look like. In doing so, we developed a supportive tutee peer learning network within the PTS framework linked to themed tutor meetings, tutee peer support meetings and a core module-delivered professional development programme. We wanted to ensure themes connected with dialogue identifying with the diversity of student learning needs that included fresh ways to building affinities between peers, tutors, and the wider university support community. The support network has enabled tutees to connect in groups to discuss their professional development, work together in supporting each other, and identify opportunities and share ambitions. Previously, personal development had only been through self-evaluation with little or no dialogue encouraged between tutees to share their lived experiences.

This presentation will highlight the positive impact observed through introducing a tutee peer support network - sharing the experiences of tutees that demonstrate clear benefits beyond just personal development to encompassing developing relationships, well-being, sense of belonging, and sharing of knowledge and experiences. In the first year of operation, we increased personal development engagement by 23.2% for all students compared to the previous three years and essentially closed our awarding gap from 25% to 0.08%. This session will identify approaches that delegates could adopt in their own institutions.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
C4 - Expected outcomes of academic advising and tutoring
C5 - How equitable and inclusive environments are created and maintained
I5 - The characteristics, needs, and experiences of major and emerging student populations
R1 - Build advising and tutoring relationships through empathetic listening and compassion for students, and be accessible in ways that challenge, support, nurture, and teach
R2 - Communicate in an inclusive and respectful manner
R3 - Motivate, encourage, and support students to recognize their potential, meet challenges, and respect individuality
R4 - Plan and conduct successful advising and tutoring interactions
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners
P2 - Appreciate students’ views and cultures, maintain a student-centred approach and mindset, and treat students with sensitivity and fairness
P3 - Commit to students, colleagues, and their institutions through engagement in continuing professional development, scholarly enquiry, and the evaluation of professional practices
P4 - Understand the implications of quality assurance and quality enhancement, and engage in on-going evaluation and development of advising and tutoring practice
R1 - Build advising and tutoring relationships through empathetic listening and compassion for students, and be accessible in ways that challenge, support, nurture, and teach