The Australian Tertiary Education Manager’s Forum ran a special session on retaining students and invited me to present. My session was exploring ways to support and retain first-in-family students with a particular emphasis on how HE mentoring programs could be designed to focus on this particular cohort. Some of the take-home messages I delivered from my presentation:

  • Mentors should be chosen based on similar life experiences and backgrounds (ie target FiF mentors if possible and match accordingly)
  • Training needs to encourage mentors to reflect on their own experiences and what they bring to the mentoring relationship
  • Recognition and reward (not necessarily monetary) are vital
  • Create a mentoring culture to nurture a ‘sense of belonging’
  • Give ownership of programs to the student mentors– the ‘citizens’ of this environment
  • Mentoring needs to be ongoing and timed to critical stages of the semester
  • Mentors need to be valued for the ‘cultural wealth’ that they bring to this relationship. (O’Shea, 2016)

“[I am the] first person…in my entire bloodline to set foot in a university!

Image_Big Data


Other topics at this session included the role of big data mapping in student retention (A/Prof David Gibson, Curtin), Faculty partnerships research on student retention (Jordi Austin USyd), online programs designed to retain students (Fabian Morrone, Hobsons) and the role of professional staff in student retention (Carroll Graham, UTS) . More details of the session and ATEM are available here.

Building Knowledge

Upcoming workshop at NCSEHE to be held at Curtin University in June, 2016

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