Mentoring Undergraduate Bachelor of Arts Students at an Australian University Regional Campus
A personal teaching project, developed over six years at a regional university campus, offered mentoring to capable and engaged students with limited subject options. Providing individual or near-individual instruction enabled the mentored students to deepen their learning, extend their discipline knowledge and consider career steps. With their undergraduate experiences thus enriched many students excelled in their special subject. This individualised training and mentorship, above the general learning threshold available or expected, resulted in high grades and several research outputs: posters at conferences, conference presentations and refereed journal articles. Interactively mentoring students also provided a learning process for the academic mentor. Significantly, mentors’ experiences in academic mentor-student mentee relationships receives much less attention than students’ experiences and satisfaction. In the contemporary ethos of student-centred learning, the present study supports and exemplifies mentoring pedagogy as inherent in passionate teaching. Reflecting on the mentor’s experience here identifies features and practices learned or consolidated in developing effective, caring, and productive undergraduate student mentoring. For the academic mentor, managing each relationship in terms of encouragement, ethics, expectations and transparency has been important to its success. Although the work did not receive a formal workload allocation, outputs have benefits for students in terms of their CVs and growth in personal confidence. Benefits for academic staff include achieving co-authored research outputs and the university benefits through additional outputs to its overall research activity and culture.
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