Reverse mentoring – Academic Personal Tutors and under-represented students

A reverse mentoring exploration of Academic Personal Tutors (APT) in partnership with ‘under-represented’ students

Sophia Lambert supervised by Rachael O’Connor

Headshot of Sophia LambertAbout the student researcher

I am studying a Masters in Social and Cultural History. I’m really pleased to be able to contribute research and my personal experiences to the really important topic of academic personal tutoring. I believe that all students, regardless of their background, should have the support they need during their university journey.

I was the first generation in my immediate family to attend university, and whilst my Mum was extremely supportive, her lack of experience studying in a higher education environment meant that I was unprepared for what to expect. I was unsure of how to make the most out my time at university when I arrived, and I did not know where to get advice.

As a student of mixed-race descent, when I arrived at university, I was initially unsure whether I belonged there because I could not see any staff or students I could identify with. Hearing other student’s experiences of university through working on this project has made me feel a sense of belonging at the university because there are other students from similar backgrounds.

Project overview

This project focuses on undergraduate students from across the different schools at the university.   Our first project goal is to improve APT practice by using student’s voices and experiences though a reverse mentoring project where students will mentor staff. We will also explore how assistive technologies (stREAM and Pebblepad) could be used within personal tutoring. Our other project objectives include analysing different approaches to academic personal tutoring inside and outside of the university from the perspective of underrepresented students. As part of this project, we will also assess how tutor/tutee roles should be developed based on the findings from the reverse mentoring project. The project team will work together to refine and finalise the format of the reverse mentoring project.

We are using the transcripts from interviews with academic personal tutor leads to collect data. We will also use student’s reflections from their Pebblepad workbooks, which focus on their time on the student consultation team to collect data. The third method of data collection we will use is interviewing students about their experiences of personal tutoring.

Our planned outputs for the project include developing the materials for reverse mentoring. We also plan to produce a thematic analysis of the interviews with academic personal tutor leads, and the interviews the members of the student consultation team conducted.