An evaluation of the Stellenbosch University Student Mentor Programme

Loots, Anna G. J. (Anna Gertruida Johanna) (2007-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Student success, access to higher education and accountability are concerns of universities and communities worldwide. Universities are now implementing interventions such as mentor programmes, Supplemental Instruction and resident advisors in order to keep abreast of a changing higher education environment, and to provide broader access and support for a wider range of students. The Stellenbosch University Student Mentor Programme (SMP) was designed and implemented in 2003 as an intervention to address some of the problems encountered by first-year students at the institution. The monitoring and realising of the outcomes of the programme necessitated a comprehensive evaluation. The discussion of various theoretical paradigms forms a backdrop against which the multiple meanings of the concept of mentoring and its many practices can be understood. It is emphasised that there is no meta-narrative or grand structure that fulfils all the purposes and objectives of mentoring. The most obvious theories in the mentoring process are played out in the functionalist and the radical humanist paradigms, with the constructivists as an important catalyst in the realising of certain processes, procedures and actions. No single study has yet offered a full analysis of mentor programmes in the various paradigms, and the analysis that I present is likewise not a “final answer”, only a pliable structure to enhance the understanding of the underlying social theories as they utilise mentoring. An evaluation study on the SMP was conducted during 2005. Questionnaires and interviews were used to establish the effectiveness of programme delivery and the resulting levels of satisfaction. The evaluation was conducted with both programme monitoring and programme outcomes in mind. The programme is highly structured and managed according to the key categories of a logic model, which also provides the relevant delivery and evaluative steps. The programme has two target groups, namely the mentors (senior students) and the mentees (mainly first-year students), organised into small groups, each with a peer mentor. The monitoring and evaluation of the SMP highlights the benefits of group interaction among students, and shows the positive academic as well as psychosocial outcomes for students who attend the mentor sessions regularly. The short-term outcomes give an indication not only of the positive academic effects of the programme, but also of student experience and performance. As seen in the current study, the group in a mentoring situation fulfils an important developmental, synergistic role. Although the main aim of the design, implementation and evaluation of the SMP was to address the high dropout and failure rates of first-year students, many other advantages became apparent, and the outcomes of the programme indicate a positive effect on more than one terrain, such as unexpected growth and development for the mentors. The success of the programme can be seen as an important value-adding strategy to the university’s teaching and learning environment, as well as a cost-effective intervention to retain students.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Wêreldwyd het studente-sukses, toegang tot hoër onderrig en aanspreeklikheid van universiteite in gemeenskappe belangrik geword. Ten einde te voldoen aan die eise van ’n veranderende opvoedingsomgewing, het universiteite begin om intervensies soos mentorprogramme, addisionele onderrig en raadgewing te implementeer om oor ’n breë front ondersteuning aan studente te bied. Die Universiteit van Stellenbosch se Studente-mentorprogram (SMP) is in 2003 ontwerp en geïmplementeer om van die probleme wat eerstejaars ervaar aan te spreek. Die monitering van die program met die gepaardgaande uitkomste het ’n omvattende evaluering daarvan genoodsaak. Die bespreking van verskeie teoretiese paradigmas vorm die agtergrond waarteen die meervoudige betekenis van die konsep mentorskap en die vele toepassings daarvan verstaan kan word. Dit word benadruk dat daar nie ’n metanarratief of grootse struktuur bestaan wat al die doelstellinge en kontekste van mentorskap omvat nie. Die mees ooglopende teorieë waarin mentorskap pas, is die funksionalistiese en die radikale humanistiese paradigmas, met die konstruktivisme as belangrike katalis wat die prosesse, prosedures en aksies betref. Die huidige bepreking daarvan is ook nie ’n poging om ’n finale antwoord oor die “plek” van mentorskap in sosiale teorie te verskaf nie, maar is bloot die daarstel van ’n plooibare struktuur waarin hierdie aksies kan plaasvind. Die evaluering van die Studente-mentorprogram het gedurende 2005 plaasgevind. Vraelyste en onderhoude is gebruik om die effektiwiteit van die program te bepaal ten opsigte van beide operasionalisering en uitkomste. Die program is hoogs gestruktureerd, en word bestuur aan die hand van die stappe uiteengesit in ’n logiese model. Die logiese model dien ook as die evalueringsraamwerk. Daar is twee teikengroepe in die program, naamlik die mentors (senior studente) en die mentees (hoofsaaklik eerstejaars), georganiseer in klein groepe elk met ’n portuurmentor. Die monitering en evaluering van die SMP toon duidelik die voordele van groep-interaksie tussen studente, met beduidende positiewe akademiese en psigososiale resultate vir diegene wat die groepsessies gereeld bywoon. Die korttermyn-uitkomste dui nie slegs op die positiewe akademiese effek van die program nie, maar ook op positiewe studente-ervaring en –prestasie. Dit blyk duidelik dat die groep in die mentorsituasie ’n belangrike ontwikkelende en sinergistiese rol vervul. Hoewel die hoofdoel van die ontwerp, implementering en evaluering van die program die aanspreek van die hoë druip- en uitvalsyfers onder eerstejaars was, het dit baie ander positiewe uitkomste op vele vlakke gehad, byvoorbeeld die ontwikkeling van die mentors self. Die sukses van die program kan gesien word as ’n strategie van waarde-toevoeging tot die universiteit se leer-en onderrigomgewing, sowel as ’n koste-effektiewe intervensie om studente in hoër onderrig te behou.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/19639
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