Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Bronwyn Harman

Abstract

Due to Federal Government policy reforms in the 1990's, equity and access to higher education (McKenzie & Schweitzer, 2001), has resulted in a major shift from elite to mass education (McKenzie & Schweitzer, 2001). Increased participation in higher education has subsequently led to increased attrition rates, especially among first year, first semester undergraduate students (Krause, Hartley, James, & Mcinnis, 2005). Over the past 15 years, the introduction of peer mentoring programs in Australian universities, have been recognised as an important step in addressing transitional issues (McLean, 2004), improving academic performance (Jacobi, 1991), and decreasing attrition rates (Drew, Pike, Pooley, Young, & Breen, 2001). This present study utilised a qualitative research design to explore undergraduate university students' perceptions and experiences as mentees' within a formal peer mentoring program, at a university in Western Australia. The sample size consisted of 14 participants, 10 females and 4 males who ranged in age from 18-45 years, (M=26yrs ). Participants took part in one to one, in-depth interviews which were conducted utilising semi-structured open ended interview questions. Thematic content data analysis results identified three main themes, which included academic support, psychosocial support, and perceived peer mentoring support. The overall findings from this qualitative research study, has shown that the academic and psychosocial support provided by the peer mentoring program, helped students' make a positive transition into tertiary studies. Furthermore, the knowledge and skills provided by the peer mentors may have helped to a certain extent, in the academic success students' achieved in assignment writing skills. In addition limitations and future directions of this study were further discussed.

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