The contribution of mentorship to personal and institutional development at the Westville Campus of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Essack, Shaheeda (2006-04)

Dissertation (PhD) -- Stellenbosch University 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : The current study is based on the premise that higher education is essentially alienating for most first generation, first year and academically under-prepared university students in higher education. The study further maintains that the experience of alienation can be overcome by implementing a form of peer mentoring system that simultaneously seeks to address personal, social and academic needs. This thesis has five chapters. Chapter One outlined the problem statement in relation to the nature of student experience of higher education and the impact of peer facilitated mentoring on student development, with specific reference to the first year, first generation and academically under-prepared student. An overview of related literature in the area of student experience of higher education and the potential role of peer facilitated mentoring in higher education indicates that peer mentoring serves to give context, meaning, purpose and direction to students, especially to those that are marginalized. Chapter Two provided an extensive account of peer facilitated mentoring in higher education. The chapter began with a critical analysis of the national plan on the restructuring of higher education in South Africa with reference to socio-economic challenges, its impact on the restructuring of higher education and the subsequent effects of such change on student personal, social and academic development. Against this background, the subjective, lived and personal experience of the student as framed in the discourse of higher education a being an alienated experience was then presented. The concept of higher education as being an alienated experience for first year, first generation student in a developing ociety was explained within the theoretical framework espoused by Mann (2000). The theoretical framework on alienation places emphasis on the socio-cultural context, the primacy of discourse, the student as outsider (knowledge, power and insight), the teaching and learning process, the loss of ownership of the learning process and alienation as a strategy for self-preservation. A case is made that student experience of higher education can be one of alienation and that peer facilitated mentoring, as an intervening strategy, can serve to alleviate some of these negative experience. The process of peer facilitated mentoring is viewed as a democratic and collaborative response to challenges in teaching and learning in higher education. Mentoring is being widely used in higher education, globally, as a means to address student needs and institutional goals. Peer facilitated mentoring is being gradually introduced into South African higher education, especially at the first year level. The entire gamut of the first year experience of higher education was explored with a conclusion on some of the principles that must inform the first year experience. Inherent in these principles is the common element of co-operative and collaborative learning that must underpin the process of mentoring. In this regard the co-operative model was presented as the basis upon which mentoring must unfold. Upon this model, the macro and micro model of mentoring were viewed as providing both the conceptual and operational framework within which a peer-mentoring programme could be implemented. A detailed discussion is then presented on the following elements: the processes and phases of mentoring, the selection and recruitment of mentors, the selection and recruitment of mentees, the matching of mentors to mentees, benefits of the programmes and the possible weaknesses and drawbacks of the programme. The chapter concluded with a discμssion on the. significance of evaluating the programme and the manner in which such evaluations could occur. Chapter Three provided an in-depth account of the research design as regards the evaluation of the programme. Mentors, mentees and faculty co-ordinators formed part of the evaluation proces . Questionnaires were implemented to both mentees and faculty co-ordinator . Focus group interviews were conducted with mentors. The sampling frame, selection of question , analysis of feedback, interpretation of results, the validity and reliability of results were explained and motivated for in the discussion. Chapter Four pre-ented an in-depth analyses and interpretation of the feedback received from mentees, mentors and faculty co-ordinators. The analyses included both quantitative and qualitative analyses and thematic interpretations. The analyses generated a range of issue that shed light on the level to which the hypothesis could be validated and the conclusions that could be drawn. The conclusions drawn from the current study are that the first year experience of higher education is neither alienating nor engaging for the first year student and that student experience falls somewhere in the continuum between alienation and engagement. The level of alienating or engaging experiences depends on the nature and context operational at particular moments. At best the first year experience can be said to be a partially broken fragmented experience and that peer facilitated mentoring has the potential to play a mediating and powerful role in ensuring that the needs of both the student and the institution are met. Recommendations made include: ensuring that institutional policy reflects the out-of-class learning experiences, placing the programme within the main academic programme, continuously assessing the needs of first year students, continuously re-establishing the aims, objectives and goals of the programme, developing a specific curriculum for mentoring, taking care to select and train mentors and ensuring that there is supervision, monitoring and assessment of the programme.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Hierdie navorsing gaan van die voorveronderstelling uit dat hoër onderwys in sy wese vir die meeste eerstegenerasie-, eerstejaar- en akademies ondervoorbereide universiteitstudente in hoer onderwys vervreemdend is. Die navorsing gaan verder van die standpunt uit dat die gevoel van vervreemding oorkom kan word deur die implementering van 'n ewekniementorstelsel wat daarna streef om die student se persoonlike, sosiale en akademiese behoeftes die hoof te bied. Hierdie proefskrif bestaan uit vyf hoofstukke. Hoofstuk een beskryf in bree trekke die probleemstelling ten opsigte van die aard van studente se ervaring van hoer onderwys en die impak van eweknie-gefasiliteerde mentorskap op die ontwikkeling van studente, met besondere verwysing na eerstejaar-, eerstegenerasie- en akademies ondervoorbereide studente. 'n Oorsig van verbandhoudende literatuur op die gebied van studente se ervaring van hoër onderwys en die potensiele rol van eweknie-gefasiliteerde mentorskap in hoër onderwys dui daarop dat ewekniementorskap daartoe bydra om aan studente konteks, betekenis, doel en rigting te gee, in die besonder aan die wat gemarginaliseer is. Hoofstuk twee gee 'n omvattende beskrywing van eweknie-gefasiliteerde mentorskap in hoër onderwys. Die hoofstuk begin met 'n kritiese analise van die nasionale plan vir die herstrukturering van hoer onderwys in Suid-Afrika met verwysing na sosio-ekonomiese uitdagings, die impak daarvan op die herstrukturering van hoer onderwys en die gevolge van sodanige veranderinge op die student se persoonlike, sosiale en akademiese ontwikkeling. Teen hierdie agtergrond word studente se ervaring van hoer onderwys met betrekking tot die subjektiewe, deurleefde en persoonlike ervaring van studente, soos geformuleer in die diskoers van hoer onderwys as synde 'n vervreemdende ervaring, dan aangebied. Die konsep hoer onderwys as 'n vervreemdende ervaring vir eerstejaar-, eerstegenerasiestudente in 'n ontwikkelende samelewing word binne die teoretiese raamwerk soos deur Mann (2000) voorgestaan, verduidelik. Die teoretiese raamwerk rakende vervreemding lê klem op die sosio-kulturele konteks, die voortreflikheid van diskoers, die student as buitestander (kennis, mag en insig), die onderrig- en leerproses, die verlies van eienaarskap van die leerproses, en vervreemding as 'n strategie vir selfbehoud. Redes word aangevoer vir die feit dat studente se ervaring van hoër onderwys die van vervreemding kan wees en dat eweknie-gefasiliteerde mentorskap, as 'n intervensiestrategie, daartoe kan bydra om enkele van hierdie negatiewe ervaringe te verlig. Die proses van eweknie-gefasiliteerde mentorskap word gesien as 'n demokratiese en kollaboratiewe reaksie op uitdagings in onderrig en leer in hoer onderwys. Mentorskap word wereldwyd algemeen in hoër onderwys gebruik as 'n wyse om aan studente se behoeftes maar ook aan institusionele doelstellings te voldoen. Eweknie-gefasiliteerde mentorskap word geleidelik in hoer onderwys in Suid-Afrika ingevoer, in die besonder op eerstejaarsvlak. Die totale omvang van die eerstejaarservaring van hoer onderwys is ondersoek met 'n gevolgtrekking oor enkele van die beginsels wat die eerstejaarservaring moet inspireer. Inherent in hierdie beginsels is die gemeenskaplike· element van kooperatiewe en kollaboratiewe leer wat die proses van mentorskap moet onderstut. In die verband word die kooperatiewe model aangebied as die basis waarop mentorskap ontplooi moet word. Op grond van hierdie model word die makro- en mikromodel van mentorskap gesien a die verskaffer van sowel die konseptuele as die operasionele raamwerk waarbinne 'n program vir ewekniementors geïmplementeer kan word. Daama word 'n gedetailleerde bespreking van die volgende elemente aangebied: die prosesse en fases van mentor kap, die seleksie en werwing van mentors, die seleksie en werwing van persone wat gementor word, die afpaar van mentors met diegene wat gementor word, voordele van die programme en die moontlike swakhede en gebreke van die program. Die hoofstuk word afgesluit met 'n bespreking van die belang van evaluering van die program en die wyse waarop sodanige evaluerings sou kon plaasvind. Hoofstuk drie bied 'n grondige beskrywing van die navorsingsontwerp wat betref die evaluering van die program. Mentors, diegene wat gementor word en fakulteitskoordineerders het deel uitgemaak van die evalueringsproses. Vraelyste is gebruik vir gementordes en vir fakulteitskoordineerders. Fokusgroeponderhoude is met mentors gevoer. Die steekproefraamwerk, seleksie van vrae, analise van die terugvoer, interpretasie van resultate, asook die geldigheid en betroubaarheid van resultate word in die bespreking verduidelik en gemotiveer. Hoofstuk vier bied 'n grondige analise en interpretasie van die terugvoer wat van gementordes, mentors en fakulteitskoordineerders ontvang is. Die analises sluit beide kwantitatiewe en kwalitatiewe analises en tematiese interpretasies in. Die analises het verskeie vraagstukke laat ontstaan wat lig gewerp het op die vlak waartoe die hipotese gevalideer kan word en die gevolgtrekkings waartoe gekom kan word. Die gevolgtrekkings waartoe na aanleiding van hierdie navorsing gekom kan word, is dat die eerstejaarservaring van hoër onderwys nie vir eerstejaarstudente vervreemdend of uitnodigend is nie en dat studente se ervaring op die kontinuum iewers tussen vervreemding en uitnodiging le. Die vlak van vervreemdende of uitnodigende ervaringe hang af van die aard en konteks wat op 'n besondere tydstip van krag is. In die gunstigste geval kan gese word dat die eerstejaarservaring 'n gedeeltelik gebroke en gefragmenteerde ervaring is en dat eweknie-gefasiliteerde mentorskap die potensiaal het om 'n bemiddelende en kragtige rol te speel om te verseker dat daar na die behoeftes van studente omgesien word en dat die doelstellings van die instelling bereik word. Aanbevelings wat gemaak word, sluit in: die versekering dat institusionele beleid die leerervaringe buite die klasopset weerspieel, plasing van die program binne die hoofakademiese program van die instelling, deurlopende assessering van die behoeftes van eerstejaar tudente, voortdurende herbepaling van die doelstellings, oogmerke en mikpunte' van die program, die ontwikkeling van 'n spesifieke kurrikulum vir mentorskap, terwyl sorg gedra word met die seleksie en opleiding van mentors en verseker word dat daar toesig, monitering en asscssering van die program is.

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