The Belong@FHS Journey: Peer Mentoring Across the Undergraduate Lifecycle

Who is involved?

  • Dr Sarah Lewis
  • Professor Michelle Lincoln
  • Associate Prof Karen Willis
  • Dr Debra Shirley
  • Dr Melanie Nguyen
  • Dr Corinne Caillaud
  • Dr Nikki Wedgwood
  • Dr Mark McEntee
  • Xuan Luu

What are we doing?

The Belong@FHS Journey consists of three peer-mentoring programs aimed at widening participation and supporting students' transition through their undergraduate lifecycle.

The three stages on the Belong@FHS Journey are:

  1. I can Belong@FHS: This is a local schools engagement program where FHS mentors (known as Student Ambassadors and Mentors [SAMs]) provide peer support to high school Year 11 students in Western Sydney. FHS SAMs will be alumni of schools in the area and travel as an interdisciplinary team to share their experiences at university and in the health sciences. School students will then be invited to attend a mentoring session at The University of Sydney Life@Sydney day. The program will motivate and inspire high school students to make a transition to higher education and builds upon the General Capabilities of personal and social capability.
  2. Belong@FHS 2014: This program builds on the success of Belong@FHS 2013 by creating a student committee to facilitate sustainability and further engage students in leadership roles. We would like to invite further participation in our program by promoting Belong@FHS to all students - local and international, LSES students through the E12 scheme, students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, non-standard students and non-HSC leavers.
  3. I can Belong@FHS Honours: A peer honours mentoring program will be implemented to widen participation in the appended FHS Honours program which operates across three disciplines. Current Honours and higher degree research (HDR) students will mentor third year undergraduate students in their transition to the 4th year Honours program. Students are exposed to peer research and introduced to a community of support within research. Second year students are also invited to participate in this e-community.

What have we learned?

Belong@FHS has been reported via the HEPPP portal. Mentors (110 across six undergraduate degrees) received training about the mentoring relationship, supporting students in distress, cultural competency and faculty learning and teaching procedures through a face-to-face training day and online training. These mentors currently support 255 mentees through face-to-face and online mentoring.

Interim feedback has been extremely positive from both mentors and mentees. Feedback includes: "My mentors are super nice! Very helpful"; "The best thing was being able to ask our mentors for help and advice about uni life and what lies ahead for us and their experience"; "Don’t change the sessions, I'm pretty content".

Mentoring will continue until the end of semester one where students will be asked to complete a formal evaluation of the program. Renewal resources have been developed and are accessible through the e-community including promotional mentoring videos, support links and interactive platforms for student engagement.