Enhancing student transition and engagement in Physiotherapy undergraduate education at Keele University

Purpose

The aim of this project was to utilise peer mentoring to enhance student transition and ability to engage in higher education.

100%
of students who engaged with mentoring reported it was beneficial.

Approach

A 60 minute café style workshop was arranged and students were invited to meet with experienced mentors. Discussions were facilitated focusing on: reflection on formative assessment, experience of year 1 assessment, top revision tips and free discussion. A questionnaire was used to gather feedback identifying benefits and drawbacks and Semester 1 module results were compared to the year group mean performance. Readiness for self-directed learning was assessed using a validated questionnaire and students who took part were invited to take part in a focus group which was transcribed fully, themes identified and coded.

Outcomes

Results: 100% of students who engaged with mentoring reported it was beneficial, stating it offered reassurance and was associated with higher assessment performance in theoretical and clinical modules. They also felt there should be further opportunity for mentoring during the academic year. Focus group findings highlighted that students did not feel adequately prepared for effective self directed learning, identifying key themes including the importance of peer support, the opportunity for trial and error and difficulties developing effective individual study skills.

Conclusion(s): Peer mentoring from experienced students can play a positive role in assessment preparation for students new to higher education and its inclusion in undergraduate programmes should be considered. Based on these findings, mentoring has been further embedded into the PT curriculum at Keele University, establishing a supportive academic network for students. Multiple, timetabled, peer-led sessions now occur during the academic year, with an emphasis placed on supporting transition into higher education and utilising shared experiences to promote readiness for self directed learning

Cost and savings

Not applicable. 

Implications

Physiotherapy programmes are intensive courses with high face-to-face contact and academic expectations, in part related to professional regulation and safeguarding requirements. Due to these demands, students can experience challenges balancing academic, social and personal objectives which can have a detrimental effect on their transition and engagement in higher education. This can impair students ability to perform on placement and upon graduation. Peer mentoring has a role to play in enhancing students ability to perform in higher education. This work can inform future curriculum development in Physiotherapy education programmes in the UK and beyond, and can lead to improved student experience and academic performance.

Top three learning points

No further information. 

Funding acknowledgements

No funding was obtained or required for this project.