JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook

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1 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook I considered becoming a mentor after the assistance I received from my mentor during my first semester at university. I found the beginning of university a daunting experience and greatly appreciated having someone who was willing to provide words of support, advice and experience - I would like to be able to provide the same support and think it is a great program for new students. I was also recommended by my lecturer at the end of year one, which has given me the confidence to apply.

2 INTRODUCTION The James Cook University (JCU) Student Mentor Program matches new students (Mentees) with a Mentor who is a current student willing to share knowledge and experience. Mentors also offer support to students on a needs basis by wearing their mentor shirts around campus so new students can identify them and approach them as a source of assistance. In general, Mentors model the qualities necessary for successful completion of a graduate program. Mentors and Mentees are matched according to discipline and continue the mentoring process to the end of the Mentee s first study period. The Student Mentor Program was established at JCU in 1991 by Learning Adviser, Helen Treston and was the first of its type in Australian Higher Education. The Program received a commendation in the 2004 Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) audit of JCU. In 2013, the program received a JCU Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning and, additionally, was honoured with the Overall 2013 JCU Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning. In the same year, the JCU Student Mentor Program received a national citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning from the Office of Learning and Teaching. DEFINITION OF MENTORING Mentoring takes many forms throughout one s life. Parents, coaches, teachers, supervisors, friends and colleagues may all act in a mentoring role at various stages. In a learning context, mentoring is the art of helping and empowering others to shape their learning behaviours. Mentoring integrates the student into the organisation and fosters: Self-esteem Affirmation of potential Orientation to the culture of the institution and/or department Access to information and resources Empowerment. Good mentoring practice empowers students by encouraging and supporting the successful achievement of goals, and adapting to the academic, social, political and cultural mores of the institution. The Importance Transition to university is a challenging experience. New students benefit from the assistance of more experienced individuals and Mentors have the reward of helping a fellow student and acquiring multiple skills for themselves. Description of Roles A Mentee is a first year student who wishes to have a Student Mentor keep in contact with them at regular intervals in their first study period at JCU. A Student Mentor is a current undergraduate student who has successfully applied to the JCU Student Mentor Program with the endorsement of an academic referee. The Student Mentor is a volunteer, has undergone all the required training, and understands their obligations as outlined in this document. An Online Mentor is a Student Mentor who has agreed to be available via to provide mentoring support for students. The Online Mentor agrees to respond to enquiries within 24 hours. Many Mentor Leaders agree to be Online Mentors and also make themselves available to current and prospective students. Off campus students can also apply to be Online Student Mentors. 1 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

3 A Mentor Leader is a Student Mentor and current undergraduate student who has been appointed to voluntarily supervise a group of Student Mentors in a discipline of study for a maximum of one year period. Mentor Leaders provides support and advice to new Student Mentors and takes on a leading role in Mentor training, recruitment and in O Week activities. Mentor Leaders may agree to have their contact details published on the Student Mentor website to act as a first point of contact to help assign Mentees to Mentors. A Deputy Mentor Leader is a Student Mentor and current undergraduate student who has been appointed to voluntarily assist the Mentor Leader in their nominated duties. Deputy Mentor Leaders may also agree to have their contact details published on the Student Mentor website to act as a point of contact to help assign Mentees to Mentors. The Student Mentor Program Officer and the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Mentor Program Officer will support the coordination of the administrative functions for the Student Mentor Program, including the recruitment, coordination and training of the large group of volunteer mentors. The positions will support and work collaboratively with academic and support staff across the University to ensure an institution-wide peer support service is embedded in all aspects of the student life cycle, under the direction of the Manager of Student Transitions and Careers. The Officers duties include organising Mentor functions, training and workshops, welcoming new Mentors, undertaking evaluations, promoting the Program and liaising with academic and support staff. The Student Mentor Program Officer are points of contact for Mentors, Deputy Mentor Leaders and Mentor Leaders and provide advice and support to these groups. 2 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

4 MISSION STATEMENT The mission of the Student Mentor Program is to provide a welcoming and supportive environment at JCU for new students and to link them with successful role models. The Program motivates new students and assists them to improve academic performance while promoting a cohesive university culture and learning community. The Program is also designed to encourage students from under-represented equity groups. These groups include students with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, students from non-english speaking backgrounds and those from rural and remote communities. Rationale All new students need and have a right to be part of an inclusive, responsive and friendly academic community. Continuing students as Student Mentors, can contribute positively to this transition to higher education. Student Mentors should be aware of the University s expectations of students and also aware of what students may expect of the University. These reciprocal expectations are detailed in the Student Charter. The Student Mentor Program also operationalizes the principles of JCU s priorities and Strategic Intent. It does this specifically under the JCU Learning Teaching and Assessment Policy by addressing Core Principle 2 Students success is built on their whole of university experience and particularly 2.1 Students will be given opportunities to develop and extend academic skills and build social community, including peer support and mentoring, particularly in first year. The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Mentor Program and the Student Mentor Program are cited as best practice exemplars of implementing core principles of the JCU Learning, Teaching and Assessment Policy. The mission, goals and objectives of the Student Mentor Program are informed by the First Year in Higher Education literature that identifies effective mentoring as an influential factor in student success and retention at University. The Program is an integral part of the JCU First Year Experience Project. 3 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

5 Objectives of the Mentor Program Provide positive role models. Provide a framework for positive interaction between new students, Student Mentors and staff. Orientate new students to the University culture, services and systems. Enable new students to understand the challenges and opportunities of University and enhance opportunities for academic success. Encourage Student Mentors in the development of leadership and interpersonal skills. Improve retention and success rates of first year students. Provide a sense of belonging within the University culture and academic learning community Counter any initial feelings of isolation and/or anxiety. Develop community engagement, leadership and cultural competency skills for Mentors. Strategies Establish the Student Mentor Program as a key component of the Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement division within the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Student Life). Provide Student Mentors with training in mixed mode formats that equips them with the knowledge and skills to undertake their mentoring role. Maintain a cyclic process of recruitment, training, implementation and evaluation to sustain the principles and practices of the program. Maintain a physical presence within a collaborative learning support space (Learning Centre/Learning Commons/Indigenous Learning Space) for students across all colleges. Performance Indicators Influence of Student Mentors: the degree to which the needs of the first year students are met. Personal and professional development of Student Mentors: engagement with training opportunities. The retention, success and satisfaction rates of students who have been mentored in their first year. Satisfactory evaluation by JCU staff of mentoring activities in Orientation and throughout year. Recruitment Procedures In week ten of study periods 1 and 2, the Student Mentor Program Officer will contact all lecturers and seek recommendations for potential mentors. In addition, current Mentors will be contacted by early in week ten and asked to contact their Mentees to encourage students to consider their voluntary participation as Mentors for the next study period. Please note: all Student Mentor applications must include the name of an academic staff member who can act as a referee for the applicant. Mentor Leaders will also ask first year lecturers if they may come in to their lectures to promote the Program and recruit new Mentors. 4 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

6 THE MENTOR SERVICE The Nature of the Mentor Relationship Establishing a positive mentoring relationship is very much like establishing other valued human relationships in a number of respects. Both parties have a genuine desire to understand the values and expectations of the other, and to respect and become sensitive to one another s feelings and needs. At the same time, mentoring relationships differ in an important way from other personal relationships because they are professional in nature. Mentors are responsible for conveying and upholding the standards, norms, and values of the college they are representing. They are responsible for offering support to the recipient of their mentoring, while the recipient strives to fulfil the college s expectations. Healthy mentoring relationships are evolutionary rather than static in nature. They change because the purpose of the relationship is to enable the recipient to acquire new knowledge, skills and standards of competence. The perceptions of both members of the relationship progress as the recipient s performance evolves to new levels of competence under guidance and support. The Benefits of Being a Mentor Mentoring is a two-way street, and the Mentee is not the only one who benefits from a mentoring relationship. The act of mentoring provides significant interpersonal and leadership skills development. Student Mentors at JCU are provided with the following additional benefits: A JCU Mentor Program uniform shirt Local businesses may sponsor outings/vouchers in recognition of the valued work that a Mentor does. Complimentary tea and coffee when Mentors work and support students in the Learning Centre Cairns. Opportunities for part-time employment as social inclusion and marketing ambassadors, transition program facilitators and other internal appointments. The Student Mentor Program Officers and Mentor Leaders are provided with official JCU name badges displaying their name. Formal recognition by the University and the Vice-Chancellor of the role through the presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation at the Mentor Celebration and Recognition Night. 5 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

7 Mentor Qualities Demonstrates an ability to share knowledge, skills and experience with the Mentee. Listens well. Recognises and encourages excellence in others. Offers support, patience, and enthusiasm. Exposes the Mentee to new ideas, perspectives, and standards. Applies social justice principles in all facets of mentoring. Demonstrates tolerance and an understanding of cultural diversity. Serves as a role model to students by providing support and information. Possesses a positive attitude. Is mature, responsible, and trustworthy. Displays a genuine interest in the success of fellow students. Is sensitive to the needs of others while at the same time prioritising their own academic progress. Graduate Attributes of Mentors James Cook University considers that students completing its undergraduate courses should be recognised as having certain graduate attributes that distinguish them as university graduates, and as graduates of JCU in particular. The Mentor Program assists students to develop the JCU Graduate Attributes. What Does a Mentor Do? Attends Mentor Training and is familiar with the resources on the Learn JCU Training Community. Responds to Mentor-related s within 24 hours. Welcomes new students during Orientation Week and conducts a University tour. Contacts their Mentees in weeks 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 of the Mentee s first study period, or more often if required, to provide support and encouragement and help the Mentees understand University processes and policies. Refers students to appropriate University support services when necessary. Wears their Mentor shirt at least once a week. Is available to assist students if the Mentor chooses to wear their shirt. Identifies and encourages other students to join the Program. Positively promotes the Mentor Program to other students, support and academic staff. Participates, and encourages participation, of Mentees in various social, academic and training events. Works collaboratively with other Mentors, Deputy Leaders, Mentor Leaders, and the Student Mentor Program Officers, and seeks advice and direction when necessary. 6 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

8 What Does a Mentor Not Do? Paid tutor if students require tutors they can arrange to employ one from the list that Counselling, Careers and Employment maintain. Proof-reader if asked to proofread an essay or assignment, the Mentor suggests that the Mentee or student ask for feedback from the Learning Advice Desk staff on the ground floor of the Library. The staff at this desk do not proof read, but they can review a snapshot of their writing and provide general feedback or refer them to an Editing Circle session. Counsellor Mentors provide general advice about JCU support services to direct students to the appropriate assistance point, and should therefore always refer students to the professional counsellors on the first floor of the Library if their Mentees express well-being concerns. Academic or Enrolment Adviser Mentors are not qualified to recommend degree structures and subjects and should direct enquiries of this nature to the Student Centre. Partner Mentors provide advice and support and it is therefore not appropriate to have an intimate relationship with a Mentee. Expert in everything Mentors don't know everything. They regularly refer students to other academic and support staff in the University. Mentor Shirt Mentor shirts remain the property of James Cook University and may only be worn while undertaking mentoring duties. Mentors must not engage in any activities that are in violation of university policies, and mentor shirts must be returned to the Student Mentor Program Officer upon finishing your association with the Program. CODE OF CONDUCT The Mentor Program seeks to ensure that all students are able to work and study in an environment free from violent, abusive or disruptive behaviours. In recognising that such behaviours may take place at the University, Mentors are committed to the proper recognition and the sensitive handling of such complaints. As they are both students and volunteers, Mentors must familiarise themselves with both the Student Conduct Policy and the Code of Conduct for JCU Employees and Volunteers. Reconciliation Statement The Student Mentor Program is committed to working towards the achievement of genuine and sustainable reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community. JCU believes that a commitment to the ongoing process of reconciliation is vital to the attainment of a better future for all Australians and all members of the JCU community. The JCU Reconciliation Statement applies to all members of the JCU community. Reconciliation promotes justice, recognition and healing. It is about helping all Australians move forward, creating a better understanding of Australia s past and how it affects the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today. 7 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

9 Diversity Diversity can be a source of non-productive conflict in organisations, and conflict can arise for a variety of reasons. Conflict can stem from misunderstandings due to cultural or individual communication differences. Inappropriate sexual and religious statements/jokes, personal biases and prejudices, and an unwillingness to accept people who are different, can also be potential causes of conflict. Mentors need to encourage the benefits of diversity. Reducing the negative effects of conflict requires cultural awareness and communication sensitivity. If the relationship between the Mentor and the Mentee breaks down for any reason, a new Mentor from the Mentor list can be allocated. Grievance Procedures It is of critical importance that the relevant Student Mentor Program Officer be notified of any incident or pattern of events involving disruptive, abusive or violent behaviour. Confidentiality of principal parties will be maintained at all times and access to information regarding any incidents and subsequent action will be limited to those directly involved in such processes. However, information regarding the processes followed will be shared without compromising the principal parties confidentiality. The Officer may on consent organise a mediation meeting between the students involved, along with one or two other students or external mediators, whose presence is acceptable to all parties. Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Procedures The Mentor Program is built on fundamental principles of human rights. The Mentor Program encourages cultural diversity and tolerance through inclusiveness and equity and actively works towards affirmative action. Problems that arise in this area should be reported to the Student Mentor Program Officer. Sexual harassment of any kind is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This type of behaviour should be reported to the Student Mentor Program Officer. Assistance may be sought under the complaint resolution procedures for cases of discrimination or harassment based on any other attributes included in State or Federal anti-discrimination legislation, such as disability, age or gender. Workplace Health and Safety Procedures Students have a statutory obligation to follow Workplace Health and Safety Policies and directions specific to safety procedures involved in training and research activities. Procedures for Termination of Mentor Status Mentors and Mentees will be excluded from the program based on unacceptable, violent, abusive behaviour or harassment. The Student Mentor Program Officer and the will assess the validity of the complaint and if the complaint is justified, then the student will be informed of the decision. Any appeal process is to be directed to the Student Mentor Program Officer in writing. Procedure for Becoming a Mentor 1. Find out as much as you can about the Mentor Program by talking to existing mentors, staff and others. Information about the Student Mentor Program can be found at: 2. Fill in the online application form, which is also available from the above page, under the heading How to become a Student Mentor. The form has a place where you are asked to include the name of an academic staff member who can act as a referee in the application process. 3. You will be contacted by the Student Mentor Program Officer to inform you of the result of your application and will be required to attend a Mentor training and planning day that may be conducted online for Student Mentors accepted as Online Mentors. 4. Commit to meeting and liaising with allocated Mentee/s on a regular basis as described elsewhere in this document 8 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

10 ONLINE RESOURCES AND TRAINING FOR STUDENT MENTORS Student Mentors can access practical training resources at any time. These are available via the Student Mentor Training Community in LearnJCU. The Student Mentor Training Community brings together a wealth of valuable resources, and is also where you can test your knowledge of JCU, connect with other mentors, mentor leaders and your mentees. Online training and resources include: Scenarios and responses Self testing Do s and Don ts for Mentors How to give good feedback Referral info Resources Discussion board And more 9 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

11 Appendix 1: Ensuring Student Mentor Training is Inclusive of Indigenous Perspectives Specific Points Diversity Purpose Co-facilitating the Mentor Training session models diversity throughout the program and its practice. For example, during O Week, new students are encouraged to select their own mentor as opposed to separating Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non- Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors and mentees. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students may prefer non-indigenous mentors for various reasons. The Student Mentor Programs promote inclusivity and diversity within the cohort of first and later year students at the University therefore mentors are confident to assist all students within the JCU community. The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Mentor Program attempts to challenge barriers that often prevent Indigenous Australian students from fully accessing student services and support. One way of doing this is by complementing and integrating with all current student support staff including, Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement, Student Services, and Library staff and provide referral when appropriate. Mentors are regularly working alongside staff in the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Centre who are most often the first point of contact. This relationship is often commencing or embedded at Mentor Training day when Centre staff are invited to share information about their work and role. The program aims to assist and support first year Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students settle into university. We focus on providing holistic support that specifically targets the academic and cultural needs of Indigenous Australian students that aims to improve student participation and retention and strengthen an Indigenous Australian community on campus. Mentors are required to encourage diversity and promote cultural awareness in all students. Diversity is a core principle of the Transition Pedagogy. Recognises the unique identity of Indigenous Australian students mentors within the JCU community. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors provide visibility within the JCU campus for all students. The visibility of the deadly mentors has greatly enhanced the sense of belonging for many Indigenous Australian students who refer to themselves as a family. The dynamics between students who feel a part of this collective develop stronger holistic support networks amongst each other which ultimately strengthen the resilience and retention of students. The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Mentor Program aims to be consistent with JCU s strategic intent by working towards the achievement of genuine and sustainable reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community. Supporting the holistic framework of the AA & TSI Student Mentor Program Specific AA &TSI Mentor Training Session Retaining Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is not just reliant on academic and financial support but must also nurturing their spiritual, emotional and psychological wellbeing. It is important that Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students have a sense of community on campus as well as a space in which they can offer support to each other and promote healing. This is important for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors to facilitate an environment that can embrace a holistic framework that captures this. Establish Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student hubs and facilitate peer support in collaborative learning spaces. This section of the training brings Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors together to provide strategic practices that are more specific to new Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors discuss and implement support mechanisms based on academic and cultural needs of Indigenous Australian students at JCU. This is also an opportunity for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors to evaluate and bring to light matters that can be improved. 10 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

12 Appendix 2: Online Student Mentor Application Form 11 JCU Student Mentor Program Handbook 2016

13 Notes

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