Griffith University’s peer-to-peer programs such as mentoring and student leadership enhance student support, engagement and achievement.
At the recent STARS (Students, Transition, Achievement, Retention, Success) Conference, Griffith psychology student Sam Flowers saw how the University compared with others in the peer program space.
“I was quite inspired to see the sector-wide contributions to improving the student experience,” Sam says.
“Griffith also really demonstrated its commitment to student wellbeing through its wide range of programs.”
Griffith University’s Manager, Mentoring and Orientation Nathan Seng says Griffith has been a pioneer in student mentor training.
“To my knowledge, Griffith University was the first to introduce a coordinated training program for its student mentors,” he says.
“Many universities now offer similar programs, which is great to see.”
Nathan is also the convenor of the Queensland chapter of the Australasian Peer Programs Network—a community of practice for peer-support professionals and higher education practitioners.
Each year, the network meets at the STARS Conference.
“The student voice was a key underlying theme at this year’s conference, and Griffith was one of the few universities that brought along a student representative,” Nathan says.
“Sam’s voice was integral to the proceedings, and we’re so glad he could be there to offer a student voice firsthand.”
Student voice is key
In his third year of a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours degree, Sam says he was happy to contribute at the conference.
“During small group workshops, academics and professionals actively involved myself and sought my feedback, particularly in the psychological wellbeing workshops,” he explains.
“I was able to provide a present context and feedback from a student’s perspective, which everyone really appreciated.”
Sam says the conference also reinforced the benefits of the Griffith Graduate Attributes.
“There were key messages around adaptivity, agility and anti-fragility during the conference, which are all echoed in the Griffith Graduate Attributes,” he says.
Students at centre of peer programs
Nathan says the University recognises the importance of peer programs and is committed to their ongoing development and success.
“Our peer mentoring programs are innovative, digital and agile to meet the needs of our varied student demographics,” Nathan says.
“On a recent student survey (Starting at Griffith), 72% of respondents indicated they received helpful information or advice about their degree from senior students or peer mentors.
“Student feedback informs a lot of what we do. For example, programs such as Peer Writing Mentoring are a direct result of the kind of support students are asking for.”
Nathan says students connect more readily with their peers, which is what helps makes Griffith’s student-led peer programs a success.
“The social connections are also really important, and we know that social connectivity—especially early on—correlates to higher retention rates.”