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"I think it was just the fear in case I wasn't accepted" - Exploring peer mentoring for first year students in higher education

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dc.contributor.advisor Lynch, Raymond Keane, Laura 2021-07-16T07:49:32Z 2021-07-16T07:49:32Z 2021
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract A large body of research spanning more than five decades has highlighted the complex and multi-faceted nature of student retention. This study aims to address the imbalance between the predominance of system-driven and quantitative policy and research focused on numbers and progression rates and the dearth of research into the wider social sphere of college life. Within the Irish higher education context, there is a very limited body of qualitative research relating to transitions to higher education and peer mentoring. This study addresses this gap in knowledge as it provides a qualitative insight into the experiences of students participating on a peer mentoring programme during transition into higher education within and Irish Institute of Technology. Transition into higher education has been identified as a time when students can experience conflicting emotions and may feel vulnerable (Yorke and Longden 2004; Andrews and Clark 2011; Cheng et al. 2015). Building new supportive social networks with peers and forming new identities are part of social integration and transition (Leidenfrost et al. 2014; Thomas 2012). The study explored how forming social connections supported students during transition. Using a qualitative case study research design, this exploratory study was carried out in two stages. During the first stage focus groups were held. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in the second stage to explore the themes that were developed in more depth. The data was analysed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006; 2013) six phase approach for thematic analysis. The urgent need to form connections with peers along with the shared identity and affiliation among peers were prominent themes identified across both stages of the study. Participating in a peer mentoring programme appears to have impacted positively on the transition and integration of participants as it offered participants the opportunity to become members of social networks In drawing on broader literatures, this study provides a theoretical framework for understanding why membership of groups and social networks was so critical for participants during transition. It also conveys that belonging, social identity, social networks, and social capital are intertwined with and an essential part of student transition. The findings of this study suggest that by providing structured opportunities to form social connection with peers, individuals can be supported to develop their social identity and a sense of belonging through membership of social networks. Membership of social networks offers the potential to develop social capital and access to resources such, emotional support, encouragement and information that can be leveraged from these connections. The findings have also highlighted the important role that peers can play in student transition and persistence. The findings of this study are relevant to a number of stakeholders, including HEIs, support service practitioners and academic staff, while also contributing to the body of knowledge on student transition and persistence. The findings of thisstudy strongly concur with the view evident in the literature (Andrews and Clark 2011; Sanders and Higham 2012; Clark et al. 2013) of the importance of the social domain for student transition as this study’s findings also indicate that the social aspects have a significant contribution to offer. This study suggests that much greater attention should be paid to student transition and how social integration takes place and advocates strongly for developing initiatives that operate across social and academic domains. This study promotes conceptualising transition differently; as an opportunity to support persistence and not as a retention activity. More recently, a nuanced distinction has been made between retention and persistence (Tinto 2017). Rather than focusing on “retaining” students, persistence focuses on supporting students to be able to persist. This study embraces this subtle shift in focus as it aims to move towards a student-centred and more holistic view of retention that explores how students can be supported to persist and focuses on the developing the skills of individuals. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick en_US
dc.subject peer mentoring en_US
dc.subject higher education en_US
dc.subject education en_US
dc.title "I think it was just the fear in case I wasn't accepted" - Exploring peer mentoring for first year students in higher education en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/doctoralThesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_theses_dissertations en_US
dc.rights.accessrights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess en_US

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