From Reducing Attrition to Building Learning Communities: A University Mentoring Program

Document Type

Book Chapter


Information Age Publishing Inc


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology




Chang, P.W , Cohen, L. , Pike, L.T , Pooley, J. , & Breen, L. J. (2003). From Reducing Attrition to Building Learning Communities: A University Mentoring Program. In Frances K. Kochan and Joseph T. Pascarelli. (Eds.). Global Perspectives on mentoring: Transforming Contexts, Communities and Cultures (pp. 277-294). Charlotte, NC : Information Age Publishing Inc. Available here.


The original impetus for peer mentoring in Australian universities was to reduce attrition rates in the first-year cohort. Now, peer mentoring programs have evolved such that they are designed to promote academic and social outcomes for both mentors and their mentees. In order to understand peer mentoring programs, it is important to be aware of the historical and contextual nature of the Australian educational system and how the system has underpinned the way in which peer mentoring programs have developed throughout many Australian universities. In this chapter, we provide an overview or the Australian educational system, the purpose of peer mentoring, and brief examples of Australian peer mentoring programs. Finally, we provide a detailed exploration of the development of the School of Psychology Peer mentoring Program at Edith Cowan University (ECU), which arose out of our desire to reduce Ihe attrition rate of psychology students, and now utilises a learning community approach to studying in which members of cohort groups study together throughout their program.


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