Introduction of a peer mentoring scheme within biomedical sciences education - easing the transition to university life

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The transition from school to university can prove problematic for a number of academic and social reasons and first-year attrition rates are high. Research suggests that first-year students need help adjusting to a new phase of learning in a larger community of practice and that a student’s decision to leave represents a negative combination of multiple integration variables. One practice that may help to reduce stress and subsequently assist in lowering first-year attrition rates is a peer pentoring (PM) scheme. Within the Centre for Biomedical Sciences Education (CBMSE) at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) a PM scheme was designed to engage new students in informal supportive relationships with more experienced students. Qualitative reports indicate that the scheme provided an avenue for new students to reappraise their previous expectations of university and develop a sense of identity within their course. An added benefit from this PM scheme was that it also allowed older students to gain transferrable employment-related skills in communication, teamwork and organisational expertise. In 2009–10, 9.1% of Biomedical Science (BMS) students, studying at QUB, did not return to the second year of their degree; however, following implementation of a PM scheme in 2011–12, figures show a reduction of first-year attrition to 3%. While such improvement is characteristic of many transition initiatives, not just those associated with PM, it is likely that implementation of PM is intrinsically linked to student retention within a course.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-741
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number6
Early online date31 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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