Peer Mentoring for PGR Students

PGR Peer Mentoring: Information for Schools

The purpose of peer mentoring is for late cycle postgraduate research students to be available to assist and support new research students in their transition to research studies.  Many universities have found such schemes successful because they provide an ongoing, student-centred induction process, as well as an improved learning culture and climate.

Below is information for schools about the different stages of the PGR mentoring lifecycle.  By clicking on the tabs you will find further information as well as related support documents from the Training and Development Team.

Key Events in Peer Mentoring Life Cycle

Meet with Key Staff in School to Discuss School Context & Particular Need of PGR Students

July

One of the key elements of Peer Mentoring is a strong working relationship with Schools.  Each School nominates one or two people to coordinate this work with students in relation to mentoring.  This will usually be an academic member of staff e.g. the Chair of the Postgraduate Research Committee and someone from postgraduate administrative support.

Schools will commence the recruitment process to recruit 2nd and 3rd years mentors.

If a member of staff is interested in setting up a PGR mentoring scheme, or requires more information please contact Lesley O'Hanlon on pg.skills@qub.ac.uk.

Recruitment & Selection of Mentors

August 

  • The School will advertise and inform 2nd and 3rd year students about mentoring opportunities.
  • Make information available to students on how to apply or access further information.

 

Training of Mentors

September/October 

The training will be delivered by a Graduate School representative and training dates will be advertised to all.  Training will be delivered in conjunction with other schools and is structured as follows:

  • Mentoring skills: Definition of mentoring.  An overview of mentoring in a skills framework
  • The mentoring process: Managing the process; using experience & models to suuport the mentor process
  • Referring to other services: Where additional support beyond mentoring is required, access to other services may be necessary
  • Communication & practice activities: Planning and preparing for mentoring; communication with the school about mentoring
  • Mentoring in the organisational & school context: An opportunity for mentors to discuss the role of mentoring in building organisational performance and to discuss the specific context and requirements of their school

Dates for 2018/19 training days are:

 

Peer Mentoring Training Dates                                Time                                                                      Location                                                           
Wednesday 12th September 1400-1630 The Graduate School
Thursday 4th October 1400-1630 The Graduate School
Thursday 17th January 1400-1630 The Graduate School

 

To sign up for training, please contact your School to complete an application form.

 

January 2019 dates - TBC

Mentor Training Credits

Mentor training, mentoring hours and mentoring activities are eligible for Researcher Plus credits.  Mentors can self-administer these credits by entering details of times (in units of half day minimum) into 'additional training and development' on QSIS and entering details of the training into the narrative section.  This form, once completed, should be returned to the mentor co-ordinator via email to pg.skills@qub.ac.uk.

 

The process of becoming a mentor

September/October

The school coordinator will approve applications and allocate first year mentees.

What to expect from your mentor

September/October

Starting a research degree can be a challenging time because for many it is the first time working in a research envirmonment.  New 1st year mentees will be assigned a mentor who will be in the 2nd or 3rd year of their PhD cycle and whose role is to be available to guide, help or support mentees at the early stages of the research degree.

Peer Mentoring aims to:

  • help mentees absorb the large amounts of information given at induction
  • direct students to resources and/or help to resolve problems which may emerge at the early stage of a research degree
  • give student access to information which will help them to function effectively in the research environment
  • encourage students to maximise learning, so making for more efficient and productive first year
  • provide context and specific learning from the experience of others
  • help students to develop strategies for dealing with personal & academic issues
  • encourage students to be resourceful, self-directed and resilient

 

Welcoming mentors and mentees to the scheme

October (school induction if possible)

Schools will bring both mentors and mentees together for a welcome event. Schools frequently host social events, such as coffee mornings, to support new research students into the research community within the School.

This enables the School to introduce mentees to the mentoring process.  

 

School Procedures for Assigning Mentees

Once the mentors have been recruited and trained and the programme advertised to new 1st year PhD students, mentors and mentees must be matched.  Some schools prefer to do the matching whereas others prefer to let mentors or mentor coordinator(s) decide and in some cases mentors and staff collaborate on this process.  Below are some considerations which may be helpful when matching.

  • Allow students to choose their mentor (web profiles of mentors can be used)

Or

  • Assign mentors to all and let students arrange connections based on individual need
  • Assign mentors to all students and suggest mentees attend at least two meetings

Considerations when Matching Mentors and Mentees

  • Research clusters: is there a preference to have mentors/mentees from the same research area or a different one?  Some schools prefer to offer cross discipline support as this can offer a broader support focus for the mentee.
  • Gender or culture considerations: some cultural groups may be more comfortable with a mentor of the same gender; others may prefer someone who speaks the same mother tongue, while others again prefer contact with speakers from different language groups. One consideration is by offering mentoring support in English, students whose first language is not English are getting an opportunity for 1-2-1 conversation which may strengthen their communication levels.
  • Office space: some mentors prefer not to share office space with their mentees so that they don't feel 'on duty' as a mentor all the time.
  • Logistics: if schools are multi location, consideration may have to be given to how the mentors and mentees can connect and meet.  Online support may be an option.

 

Mentoring

October

The purpose of peer mentoring is to assist new postgraduate research students in the transition to the research environment. It involves supporting students in a way that helps them develop the skills that they will need to complete their PhD. 

Roles & Responsibilities of Mentors

The role of the mentor is diverse and ranges from the ability to bring enthusiasm to the role to being a role model.  Mentors are responsible for structuring meetings and keeping brief records of all meetings (see mentor log).  Mentors should be proactive about asking open questions and giving encouragement as well as keeping in touch with mentees and suggesting dates for follow up meetings as and when required.

Peer Mentoring is:
Peer Mentoring is not:
Supporting others to problem solve Imposing your ideas & values
Confidential Counselling
Using your knowledge & experience A quick fix solution
Reflective Having all the answers
Building confidence Teaching
Encouraging independence Judging

 

Review Event with Mentors & Mentees

November

It is recommended that all schools have a mentor review meeting in November or early December to ensure that mentoring is meeting the needs of mentees (evaluation questionnaire for mentees).  This would provide an opportunity for a mentoring event which would combine social contact with a professional element such as networking or a topic of interest to mentees.  

 

Allocate Mentors to late start PGR Students

January

New PGR students who start at non-standard times of year benefit greatly from mentoring.  It is essential that such students are given the opportunity to have a mentor to support their integration as they may have missed some or all of the induction activities planned by the school or the university.

Contact Details:

For more information on the PGR Peer Mentoring programme, please contact The Graduate School at pg.skills@qub.ac.uk.