Building community, educational attainment and university aspirations through university-school mentoring partnerships

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Connections in Higher Education Vol. 35

July, 2012, 373 pages
Published by
N. Brown, S.M. Jones, & A. Adam
ISBN
0 908557 89 2
Abstract 

The Australian Government aims to increase tertiary participation, through in part, encouraging students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to undertake higher education.

The purpose of this program was to determine the benefits of a university–high school mentoring partnership involving third year university students and ‘disadvantaged’ year 12 high school students, and to explore whether such a partnership could influence the educational attainment and university aspirations of year 12 students.

Twenty nine year 12 students from 8 different state high schools studying chemistry at the UniSA because their high schools lacked chemistry laboratories were mentored by four third year undergraduate students. The university mentors assisted in practical and tutorial classes for 26 weeks during the university semester.

The educational attainment and aspirations of higher education improved for all high school students. Almost all the high school students reported their ability to solve tutorial problems and their self-confidence increased after working with mentors. All related to the mentors as positive role models and most valued the informal conversations about university life. All the high school students had applied to go to university even though 65% reported being the “first in family” to attend university. Just over half the students reported changing their preferred course during year 12; the mentors anecdotally reported that the “lure of an iPad” catalysed some of the institutional changes.

In conclusion, the high school students believed the undergraduate mentors were positive role models who helped to increase their educational attainment and aspirations of higher education.

Keywords: high school – university mentoring programs, socially disadvantaged students, higher education aspiration 

Building community, educational attainment and university aspirations through university-school mentoring partnerships

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