Issuu on Google+

CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS

DERAT IO NFE N CO

S IN IRELAN D CE VI

DENT S STU ER OF


14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience Conference Proceedings

ISBN 978-0-9514675-7-2 Editors: Vivian Rath, University College Dublin / Trinity College Dublin

DERAT IO NFE N CO

S IN IRELAN D CE VI

DENT S STU ER OF

www.cssireland.ie GROUPS Confederation of Student Services in Ireland


CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION 1

PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION Holistic Approaches to Health Maintenance in the B.Sc. Pharmacy Degree at Trinity College 3 Asst. Prof. Fabio Boylan, Dr Astrid Sasse and Dr Helen Sheridan, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin

An Olympic Model for Holistic Student Health and Well-being

7

Dr Martin Cunningham, Queen’s University Belfast

Health Promotion in Higher Education – at the margin or in the core? Eva Devaney, Mary Immaculate College

14

SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE Peer Support: A Recipe for a Happier Student 22 Kathy Bunney & Claire Dunne, University College Cork

The Fresher Agenda – Improving retention through early student engagement Frances Sheridan, National College of Ireland

29

Scaffolding Student Learning in Higher Education A New Student Guide to Assignment Writing 34 Ann Heelan, AHEAD (Association for Higher Education and Disability) & Helen Carroll, Dublin Institute of Technology

EUROSTUDENT and the Social Dimension of European Higher Education – looking at the 36 total student experience from a European perspective Dr Dominic Orr, HIS-Institute for Research on Higher Education

MENTAL HEALTH Student Mental Health Report: an integrated student model

42

Uplift to Positive Mental Health, University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

45

Dr Philomena Renner, University of Sydney

Diarmaid Ring, Claire Dunne, Mary O’Grady, Aimie Brennan, Denis Staunton, University College Cork

COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY Does coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

55

Enhancing students’ employability through extra and co-curricular activities DBS model

65

Taking the LEAD: Reflections on enhancing employability skills development?

75

Working From The Inside Out: From touchy feely to optimum human functioning?

81

Tom Hennessy, Educational Coach & Mary O’Sullivan, Mature Student Officer, University College Cork Caitriona McGrattan, Denise McMorrow, Michael Kielty, Danielle Kerrins & Ian McGlynn, Dublin Business School Dr Jen Harvey and Dr Rachel O’Connor, Dublin Institute of Technology

Dr Michael Ryan, Martin Fitzgerald, Bridget Kirwan & Marie Walsh, LIT Tipperary

MATURE STUDENTS Mathematics as a barrier for mature students – initiatives developed within Cork 94 Institute of Technology as a response Sinéad O’Neill, Mature Student Officer, Cork Institute of Technology

Mature Students with family responsibilities: Misfits within the ‘rational economic 100 man’ model of student participation in higher education Mary O Sullivan, Mature Student Officer, University College Cork


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience

DENT S STU ER F O

CSSI aims to: • Promote  and  improve  student development and support services at third level institutions; • Facilitate communication, information  exchange, and  research development among  individuals and associations concerned with student services in higher  education, both  nationally and internationally; and • Influence  national policy to  best meet the needs and  interests of students and student services professionals.

For further information about CSSI: www.cssireland.ie

cssireland@gmail.com

join us on LinkedIn

S IN IRELAN D CE VI

CSSI is the representative body for  student services and student affairs in Higher Education on the island of Ireland. The organisation advocates and promotes policy development, discussion and change on a wide range of issues affecting students, and student services professionals each and every day. The confederation provides a valuable resource to member services by  facilitating networking opportunities  and the discussion and dissemination of information on  issues of common interest, and by encouraging and fostering new research collaborations.

DERAT IO NFE O N C

About CSSI


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience

The 14th biennial CSSI conference was hosted by Dundalk Institute of Technology in June 2013. In this, the organisation΄s 25th year, the conference acted as a fantastic opportunity to bring student services personnel together. Through the organisation of these conferences over the past 25 years, the organisation has made a significant and valued contribution to both student and staff development across the higher education sector in Ireland. This year’s conference brought together national and international experts to discuss a range of topics under the theme of ‘the holistic approach to the student experience’. The event provided an excellent environment for student services professionals from within the higher education sector to network and to interact with one another. The keynote speakers, Prof Liz Thomas and Dr Dominic Orr and members of the discussion panel provided plenty of food for thought in their presentations, which  resulted in lively discussion andstimulating debate. The conference shed light on a wide range of issues, changes and challenges that are currently being experienced at institutes across Ireland. The ensuing discussion was designed to support and enrich the holistic approach to the student experience. This publication of the conference proceedings aims to bring to light some of the most current, relevant and salient developments in the holistic student experience both in Ireland and abroad that were  addressed at this year’s conference.  The proceedings have  been set out under five  main headings:  Physical Health Promotion;  Support Retention and Student Experience;  Coaching and Employability;  Mental Health;  and Mature Students. The CSSI Executive  and the Conference Organising Committee  are grateful for the participation of all those who presented at the conference, and for all those who attended and contributed in the many different ways.

Acknowledgements: A special word of thanks is extended to members of the Conference Organising Committee and the CSSI Executive  who reviewed contributions, including Myra O’ Regan (TCD) and Brian Gormley (DIT). Thanks also to  Michael Wall  (Mary Immaculate College),  Aisling  O’Grady  (UCD),  Cian  Dowling (UCD Students’ Union), Helena Johnson (CIT), Aidan Healy (RCSI), and Leah Boyd (Clemson University). I wish to acknowledge the work of Barry Colfer (Cambridge University / Pleasetalk.org)  who assisted  me over the summer in liaising with contributors, and in compiling and editing this proceedings document.

Vivian Rath University College Dublin/Trinity College Dublin CSSI Conference Chair 2013

1


PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION Holistic Approaches to Health Maintenance in the B.Sc. Pharmacy Degree at Trinity College 3 Asst. Prof. Fabio Boylan, Dr Astrid Sasse and Dr Helen Sheridan, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin

An Olympic Model for Holistic Student Health and Well-being

7

Dr Martin Cunningham, Queen’s University Belfast

Health Promotion in Higher Education – at the margin or in the core? Eva Devaney, Mary Immaculate College

2

14


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Holistic Approaches to Health Maintenance in the B.Sc. Pharmacy Degree at Trinity College

Holistic Approaches to Health Maintenance in the B.Sc. Pharmacy Degree at Trinity College Dublin Asst. Prof. Fabio Boylan, Dr Astrid Sasse and Dr Helen Sheridan, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin

Abstract This work describes how the students in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin perceive and accept the module PH4003B in their final year. This pharmacognosy module deals with Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The aim of this work is to investigate the learning experience of this important part of their course through this module and how the students can classify the relevance of this subject for their overall formation as health professionals. Key words: Pharmacognosy, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Trinity College Dublin

Introduction PH4003B is a final year module in the Pharmacognosy (Natural Product Chemistry, Botany and Traditional Medicines) component of the B. Sc. (Pharm.) Degree (accredited by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland) in Trinity College. In 1984 Anna De Pasquale published a paper in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology entitled ‘Pharmacognosy: the oldest modern science’1. In this paper she defines pharmacognosy and describes the way this science has evolved and benefited from modern discoveries in the areas of chemistry of natural products and pharmacology. These new developments ensure the proper identification of the active principles in the plants, their possible toxicity and side effects and the mechanism of their pharmacological action2. Therefore, to fully understand this rather complex science, knowledge of botany together with natural product chemistry and pharmacology are needed. In this way, the module is built on 2nd and 3rd year modules, in which fundamental principles of Chemistry and Botany are taught. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is introduced to the students and their understanding of Phytotherapy is further developed by looking at the Global Significance and use of Traditional Medicines and their Ethnomedical, Ethnopharmacological and Anthropological importance. It is very important to emphasise to the students the crucial role phytomedicine can have in producing pharmacological and toxicological effects that can’t be ignored while these medicines are used in Ireland. A letter published in The Lancet under the title: ‘Don’t forget pharmacognosy’, fully explores this by describing a clinical case of a patient who became terminally ill after intoxication with a wrongly identified medicinal plant3. The changing face of legislation within a Global Context (Convention of Biodiversity, Nagoya Protocol, Bio-piracy) is explored4. A significant portion of this module underlines the clear distinction between Phytotherapy (use of the herbal medicinal products according to the European regulatory framework) and CAM (which encompass several techniques in both complementary and alternative medicine). CAM techniques are taught including the description of techniques such as massage and the use of medicinal plants outside the scope of rational Phytotherapy. In this way the students discuss aspects of, e.g., Reiki, Shiatzu, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Naturopathy, always taking into account the wellbeing and the safety of the patients who will be availing of these CAM techniques5. As experiential learning is promoted throughout the Pharmacy degree course, students are introduced in small groups to the beneficial effects of Yoga and Meditation in a two-hour session. Similar components to Modules have been successfully implemented in mind-body courses for medical students6. Students are guided into practical aspects of mindfulness meditation, pranayama (breathing techniques), Yoga asanas and Yoga Nidra by a qualified Yoga Teacher who is also a registered pharmacist. These workshops were designed to introduce students on an experiential level to the health benefits of the ancient tradition of yoga. As many of the contemporary diseases are caused and/or are aggravated by stress, a non-drug approach to stress-relief which may contribute to health maintenance, improve coping mechanisms and even provide healing was offered to our final year students. A series of seminars on aspects of phytotherapy and CAM techniques is presented by qualified pharmacists practicing in these areas.

3


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Holistic Approaches to Health Maintenance in the B.Sc. Pharmacy Degree at Trinity College

Material and Methods Design of the module PH4003B This module was designed to provide the students with a detailed knowledge of alternative medicines and traditional herbal medicines, always emphasising the differences between conventional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The lectures also cover an overview of the European regulatory framework for herbal medicinal plants (HMP’s), the importance of traditional Medicine in global health and the millennium development goals (MDGs), the TRIPS agreement and bio-piracy as relating to traditional knowledge. Seminars and workshops are delivered to support the delivery of the learning outcomes. In this way the lectures delivered are: 1. Rational Phytotherapy: Central Nervous System 2. Rational Phytotherapy: The Respiratory System 3. Rational Phytotherapy: The Digestive System 4. Rational Phytotherapy: The Cardiovascular System 5. Rational Phytotherapy: The Urinary System 6. Evidence Base of ADR’s 1 7. Evidence Base of ADR’s 2 8. Case Studies in Phytotherapy 1 9. Case Studies in Phytotherapy 2 10. CAM: Definitions, Types and Concepts 11. CAM: Uses 12. CAM: Clinical Evidence for Different Types of CAM 13. The European Regulatory Framework (HMP’s) 1 14. The European Regulatory Framework (HMP’s) 2 15. Traditional Medicine, Global Health and MDG’s 16. The TRIPS Agreement and Bio-piracy Seminars vary from one year to another and this academic year they were: 1. Herbal Practice in Ireland 2. Homeopathic Remedies

Experiential yoga workshop For the Yoga Workshop the class was divided into small groups of 15-17 students and took place in the Trinity College Dublin Sports Centre. Students were introduced to practicing various approaches of Raja Yoga. Students learned about different theoretical aspects of Yoga, benefits of Yoga in health and disease, mindfulness meditation, practiced breath control (pranayama), Yoga postures (asanas) and Yoga Nidra. Yoga postures are challenging at times and were adjusted according to each individual body type, to ensure that every student received optimal benefits. After final relaxation, students were led into Yoga Nidra. The Quality Office in Trinity College Dublin has developed an anonymous survey that is sent to the students at the end of their modules by request of the module coordinators or when that particular year is being fully assessed in the School. PH4008B was not in the list of modules to be surveyed this year, however because it is a new module, which is only run for the third cohort of students, it was decided to continue the good academic practice of obtaining student feedback, and this module is constantly improved by implementing suggestions and critiques of the students, as appropriate. The survey is based on affirmations with pre-established opinions to be picked by the students. Sixteen affirmations had to be completed by using a 5-point Likert Scale ranging from Strongly disagree (1) to Strongly agree (5).

4


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Holistic Approaches to Health Maintenance in the B.Sc. Pharmacy Degree at Trinity College

These affirmations were: 1. The module was well organised 2. The module content was interesting 3. The difficulty level of the module was appropriate 4. The module has developed my interest for this subject 5. Overall I am satisfied with the quality of my learning experience in this module 6. The lecturers communicated clearly and effectively 7. Each teaching session covered a well defined topic 8. The instructors/demonstrators explained the purpose of the practicals 9. The instructors/demonstrators gave me adequate instructions for proceeding with the experiments 10. The instructors/demonstrators were helpful in answering my questions 11. The practicals stimulated me to think critically about the experiments 12. The practicals assisted my learning in this subject 13. The aims and objectives of the workshops were clearly explained 14. The workshops encouraged participation by the students 15. The workshops stimulated me to think critically about the subject 16. The workshops assisted my learning in this subject The survey also contains some other general affirmations with different sets of opinions to be selected by the students, plus two general open questions where they can answer whatever they want. The two open questions are: 1. Please list three things that you enjoyed about this module. 2. Please list three possible improvements about this module.

Results and Discussion Figure 1 shows the results for all the sixteen affirmations in the survey that needed completion using the Likert’s scale. It is interesting to notice that almost all of them got an overall of 4 points or above for which means a greater number of students chose that they agreed or strongly agreed with the affirmations.  

 

Figure 1 Results of the sixteen affirmations in the survey following the Likert’s Scale.

5


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Holistic Approaches to Health Maintenance in the B.Sc. Pharmacy Degree at Trinity College

Translating the results into percentages, the survey shows that 100% of the students thought that the module was well organised with 83% of them thinking it had an interesting content. Seventy nine per cent of the students confirmed that that Phytotherapy and CAM developed their interest in alternative Health approaches to health maintenance and disease prevention. A very significant percentage with 95.8% mentioned that the various parts of PH4003B (seminars, lectures, workshops, tutorials, practicals, etc.) were well linked. Almost 96% of the students thought that each teaching session covered a well-defined topic. The totality of the students said that the lecturers involved in teaching this module were enthusiastic about their subject matter, and 100% of them also proclaimed that they were satisfied with the quality of their learning experience. When students were asked about what they enjoyed the most during their learning experience in this module, they mentioned that learning about different cultures, case studies, external speakers, experiencing Yoga, and the opportunity to discuss CAM techniques and Phytotherapy were unique, making the module relevant and interesting to learn. Students commented enthusiastically on the Yoga session, e.g., ‘I like the kind of energy yoga provides’ and ‘It is a very good idea to develop this concept for the students in Pharmacy.’ As part of the two-hour yoga workshop, students were also led into a deeply relaxed state (Yoga Nidra). This part of the session was recorded and students were given access to the recording on Blackboard Learn which allowed students to download the recording in .mp3 format and re-play and practice this yoga technique whenever they felt it would be of benefit. Students commented on the Yoga Nidra component as follows: ‘I enjoyed this and I felt like I would listen to the recording again. I have since used it when I could not sleep and found it relaxed me.’ Other comments that show how students are benefiting from experiential learning included ‘It was a great experience and a good addition to the complementary therapy module’ and ‘It was a great opportunity to get a taster of Yoga, a nice way to enforce the idea of such exercises as a method of relaxation which we can suggest to our patients/ friends/family in the future having tried it ourselves’ and ‘I would feel comfortable in recommending it to someone as a form of exercise/relaxation. I can see now how it would be beneficial’. When asked about improvements for the quality of the module overall, the students mentioned that more interesting lectures on CAM as well as having external expert contributions in different areas of CAM for workshops would further improve its quality. One paper and one abstract published in the US point out the importance and acceptance of Pharmacy students to have CAM in their curriculum.7,8 Both studies emphasise the lack of general knowledge from both qualified pharmacists and pharmacy students about CAM techniques and how this lack of knowledge poses a problem when they are practicing in relation to giving advice to the increasing patients’ questioning about the matter7,8. Our study not only agrees with these two previously published ones but goes a step further by giving the pharmacy students in TCD the opportunity to have the minimum knowledge of CAM taught in their course by means of lectures, workshops and practical experimentation of techniques.

Conclusion We can conclude that this module is very well accepted by a critical and very discerning student group. In addition this feedback confirms that this comprehensive teaching approach offers a unique learning opportunity for pharmacy students in TCD to foster a holistic approach to health maintenance.

Bibliography 1. De Pasqualle, A. Pharmacognosy: The Oldest Modern Science. 1984. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 11:1, 1-16. 2. Phillipson, J.D. Phytochemistry and Pharmacognosy. 2007. Phytochemistry, 68:22-24, 2960-2972. 3. The Lancet. Don’t Forget Pharmacognosy. 2006. The Lancet, 368:9532, 260. 4. Boisvert, V. and Franck-Dominick, V. The convention on Biological Diversity: A conventionalist approach. 2005. Ecological Economics, 53:4, 461-472. 5. Fox, P et al. Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) use in Ireland: A secondary analysis of SLAN data. 2010. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 18:2, 95-103. 6. Bond, AR et al. Embodied Health: the effects of a mind-body course for medical students. 2013. Medical Education Online, 18:20699. 7. Noureldin, M and Plake K. Attitudes and Knowledge of Pharmacy Students towards Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, 7:1, e6. 8. Simons-Yon, S. et al. Understanding pharmacists’ experiences with advice-giving in the community pharmacy setting: A focus group study. 2012. Patient Education and Counseling, 89:3, 467-383.

6


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: An Olympic Model for Holistic Student Health and Well-being

An Olympic Model for Holistic Student Health and Well-being Dr Martin Cunningham, Queen’s University Belfast

Abstract This presentation sets out a concept of holistic student health care based on the ancient Olympic ideal of “a healthy mind in a healthy body” and uses the symbol of the five Olympic rings within the Olympic flag to emphasise the five areas encompassing holistic student health care, namely: Academic Achievement; Physical Fitness; Psychological well-being; Social Engagement and Meaning and Purpose The first four areas are self-evident however all five need to be expanded upon. The fifth area “Meaning & Purpose” encompasses such issues as a meaningful life and spiritual satisfaction. It must also be considered in the secular setting of modern day universities. The student healthcare setting provides an ideal opportunity to tailor a health promotion programme and encourage lifestyle choices that will endure beyond their primary degree. The Higher Education Institution should embed the holistic approach into its operational plan. Third Level education, in addition to securing a good degree or diploma should also empower the student to adopt the holistic principles of the five identified areas and appreciate that enhancing each of the individual areas has a cumulative effect on all areas to provide the optimal student experience. Student Support Services should provide a lead in this area but the holistic approach will require a “buy-in” from the academic departments, the University Health and/or GP services, as well as the student bodies and individual students. This paper explores the different areas and how the GP practice works with the University to further develop holistic student health & wellbeing.

An Olympic Concept: Introduction The word holistic comes from the Greek word holos meaning all, whole, entire or total. It is the idea that all the properties from a given system cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone. Rather, the system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave, or to put it another way, the whole of the system is greater than the sum of its parts. Holistic student health care entails looking after all the components that make up student health. This paper presents a concept for provision of holistic health care to students in Third Level Education based on this holistic approach. The holistic idea is the basis of the ancient Greeks’ belief that the development of the mind, spirit, and body were linked. The ancient Olympic ideal was “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” But what exactly do we mean by a “healthy mind” and would we know if we had one? The Olympic flag was created by the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin making its official debut at the 1920 games in Antwerp, Belgium2. Pierre chose a five-ring symbol to represent the five continents and selected six colours (white, red, yellow, green, blue and black) because each flag of the countries that were part of the Olympic movement contain at least one of those colours. Furthermore, it represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games. This article presents a concept based on the Olympic rings when discussing student health and wellbeing. Instead of five rings representing five continents, the paper presents the five areas which might be considered in a holistic approach to student health and well-being. Namely: Academic Achievement; Physical Fitness; Psychological Well-being; Social Engagement; Meaning & Purpose.

7


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: An Olympic Model for Holistic Student Health and Well-being

Additionally, the concept of interlocking rings as they appear on the Olympic flag is appropriate as these areas overlap and strengths in one area enhance strengths in the others (and, similarly, weakness in an area will have a detrimental effect on others). These should be areas for aspiration goals for the student rather than ideals for excellence, bearing in mind that no one can be perfect in every area and striving to be so could be counter-productive! On the other hand, the Higher Education Institutions including their student support and affiliated healthcare services should strive to ensure every aspect of their work allows the students to meet their aspirations in these areas.

‘The Five Rings of Holistic Student Health & Well-Being’

Academic Achievement

Physical Fitness

Social Engagement

Psychological Well-being

Meaning & Purpose

Physical Fitness As is the case within the general population, there is significant variation in the level of physical fitness in students, from elite athlete (such as the Oxford and Cambridge Blues taking part in the annual Boat Race) to the physically inactive. There are many opportunities to improve fitness on this whilst in university, however, the opposite also applies and university life can be one of relative inactivity if the student is not suitably encouraged and guided! (See excerpt from Sunday Times, August 20, 2006 next page)

8


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: An Olympic Model for Holistic Student Health and Well-being

Sunday Times: August 20, 2006

Marc Horne

University students get obesity health warning. UNIVERSITY students are being issued with obesity warnings in the wake of research showing the average fresher puts on a stone in their first year. A leaflet produced by the student association at the University of Dundee advises undergraduates to steer clear of junk food and to drink sensibly. It says undergraduates who gorge on fatty food and alcohol are far less likely to get good grades. “First-year students can gain as much as 15lbs in their first year at university because of the changes in food and diet patterns,” the health warning states. “Student intake of fat, sugar and carbohydrates often exceeds the daily recommended levels. “Students with a well-balanced, healthy diet will find their academic performance is consistent with the state of their physical health. Eating habits during the university years create eating habits that impact on future health.” The move follows an American study showing that the average student puts on 15lbs — dubbed the Fresher’s 15 — within 12 months. Professor Annie Anderson, a nutritionist from the university’s centre for public health and nutritional research, said there was mounting concern over the number of overweight and obese students in Scotland. She said a combination of factors including stress, being away from home for the first time, peer pressure and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, was causing a growing number of students to balloon. “The main issue here is booze,” she said. “Not all students drink to excess but when young people leave home there is a lot more freedom and a couple of pints every night really does add up as alcohol is quite high in calories.” Anderson said that the rapid increase in car ownership among students had also taken its toll. “People assume being at university involves a lot of physical activity because there are so many sports associations but many students have cars, which was pretty much unheard of in the past,” she said. However, Anderson added that the stereotype of the hard-drinking student who spends more time in the pub than at lectures was far from the truth. “A lot of students have part-time jobs so they are working hard and studying hard. Thinking about nutrition and health is way down their list of priorities. The pressures on students nowadays are enormous.” She said youngsters who are used to having their meals cooked for them at home often struggle to cater for themselves. “There is a tendency to eat lots more junk food as it is convenient and inexpensive,” she said. The Dundee Students’ Association is urging freshers to buy vouchers that can be exchanged for fresh healthy food, but not alcohol or sweets.

Physical Fitness as a generic area might be divided into two separate areas, namely Physical Health and Disease Management (see Table 1) PHYSICAL HEALTH

DISEASE MANAGEMENT

• Diet & Weight management

• Self-management of minor ailments

• Cardiovascular & Strengthening Exercise

• Treatment of acute illness

• Alcohol Consumption Control

• Optimal management of chronic conditions

• Smoking Cessation

• Sexually Transmitted infections

• Screening & Immunisation

• Musculoskeletal injury & rehabilitation

• Sexual Health & Contraception Table1

As a student it can be hard to ensure a healthy diet. There are the financial costs and the time costs. Furthermore, convenience foods can be so – well convenient! But this option is not usually the healthy option. Frequently, therefore, students will find they put on weight at university. Conversely, the reverse is also more prevalent than in the general population and anorexia nervosa is also frequently seen!

9


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: An Olympic Model for Holistic Student Health and Well-being

Students should be encouraged to either start or, indeed, maintain high levels of cardiovascular fitness. In fact it may benefit the student to be offered fitness profile assessments and a discussion of fitness goals, both short-term, for the period of their time at university and indeed as a graduate. If physical activity is not factored into the student’s schedule from the start it becomes increasingly difficult to slot it in at a later date. Awareness of behavioural change models in the area of physical activity is required when planning and offering physical activity facilities to the students. According to the transtheoretical model, behavioural change is seen as a process over time with six stages (Prochaska, Norcross and DiClemente, 2002). 1. Pre-Contemplation Stage; 2. Contemplation Stage; 3. Preparation; 4. Action Stage; 5. Maintenance Stage; 6. Termination Stage. Depending on which stage of behavioural change in which the student finds themselves, the approach to promoting physical activity will differ (Spencer, Admans , Malone, Roy & Yost. p 428-443). The Termination Stage is defined as “Participants have full faith in their behaviour and will not return to their previous behaviour, regardless of the situation”. This should be a physical fitness goal for university students. Alcohol consumption is an important factor to consider in respect of academic achievement, physical fitness, psychological well-being and spiritual satisfaction. Even in respect of social engagement where it can initially have a potentially enhancing effect, excess alcohol consumption will sooner or later be detrimental. Studies by Berwick, Mulhern, Barkham, Trusler, Hill & Stiles (2008) have shown that students often drink too heavily when they start university but most settle down as they progress through university and in their post-graduate years. Unfortunately, some will suffer as a result of excessive alcohol use (and this can happen early on in a student’s undergraduate life). It is beholden on the university and its support services to endeavour to curb excesses and take remedial action when a student should present with alcoholrelated problems. This, of course, reflects the issues relating to alcohol use within the community in general but students have so much to lose if they fall into the alcohol trap at this stage in their lives. The transition to university can be a time of general turmoil so it is important that the student has good control over pre-existing conditions (such as asthma or diabetes) and seek professional help and advice if the management is not satisfactory. Sexual health is another area to consider. Again, this can be addressed in a holistic manner in terms of appropriate sex education and advice on safe sex practices, as well as screening for asymptomatic disease and the management of sexually transmitted infections. The level of knowledge students have in respect of sexual health can vary from complete ignorance to wide ranging experience in sexual practices. The associated problems that may occur will be affected by this spectrum of knowledge or ignorance and will, of course, also affect psychological well-being. Any difficulties a student may be having regarding sexual issues including sexual orientation, worries about sexually transmitted disease or even simply relationship issues may be of great distress to that student and they will need sympathetic, well-informed and non-judgemental handling by the student support services.

Psychological Well-being As stated by the ancient Greeks “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. That is the desired ideal but what is a healthy mind and how do you get and keep one? Well! Being well educated helps (Academic Achievement); being physically active definitely helps (Physical Fitness); having a good social network is very beneficial (Social Engagement) and having a strong sense of self-worth, positive values and resilience is protective (Meaning & Purpose). Important protective elements include enjoyment of your academic or vocational work, good time-management, physical fitness, support from family and friends and the professional help of the university academic and support staff. Having a high level of self-confidence and self-esteem is very protective. But like physical fitness self-confidence and self-esteem must be built up and maintained. Third level education has a significant positive effect on psychological wellbeing. Those educated to degree level are not only more likely to be in full time employment than those with lower educational attainment, but also less likely to smoke and be overweight and more likely to exercise regularly and eat healthily (DHSSPSNI). From a health promotion perspective students at university are generally well-motivated and this is an ideal opportunity, as stated by Kracen (2003): ‘to strengthen the role and impact of ill health prevention’. Students tend to be goal-driven and are well motivated and are able to use the newly found skills of independent learning and problem resolution. 10


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: An Olympic Model for Holistic Student Health and Well-being

There are, however, issues around third level education that can challenge the new student’s psychological wellbeing (Royal College of Psychiatrists). Factors that can be challenging include: • moving away from home, family and childhood friends. • Cultural and language difficulties for international students. • Stresses of university life including financial worries, difficulties with transition to independent living and study, relationship issues and heightened aspirations for achievement (and employment!). • Pre-existing psychiatric disorders and problems such as eating disorders • Significant “life events” such a bereavement or divorce of parents and issues such as previous psychological trauma in childhood or as a teenager. • University life is relatively structured around the academic calendar with deadlines for assignments, modules and examinations whereas the actual study itself is relatively unstructured. One other area that can have a negative effect on psychological wellbeing is alcohol and/or substance abuse. Students, like their non-student peers have frequent exposure to alcohol and drugs. University health services across the United Kingdom and Ireland have had to deal with an increase in students experiencing problems with excessive alcohol use and from using other “mind-altering” substances (Cahill & Byrne 2009). These are issues for which the University, its Student Support Service, and Health care services need policies to reduce the potential damage that can occur. As stated by Coghill, Orme & Swindells (2009): “Every HEI should have a comprehensive alcohol policy which is accessible and visible to all students and staff..... . Additionally, involving students [as volunteers to facilitate work related to sensible drinking] provides a means by which the message of responsible drinking can be administered throughout a diverse student population group” . Measures to protect and enhance psychological well-being need to be embedded in the operation of the Higher Education Institutions, and, when students do experience difficulties with their psychological health they need access to rapidly responding services when they are experiencing these mental stresses and/or illness. Often these services do not need to be very sophisticated provided they are timely. There will, however, be occasions when a student needs a higher level of support which is tailored to their needs and understands the issues as they affect students. The service needs to be aware of the effects academic study may have on psychological health and vice versa how psychological wellbeing will affect academic performance.

Social Engagement Key elements: • Activity (doing something) • Interaction (two or more people involved in the activity) • Social exchange (the activity involves giving or receiving something from others) • Lack of compulsion (there is no outside force forcing an individual to engage in the activity) • Generally excludes activities for which person is getting paid, or family obligations. Going to university is a great excuse to enhance social contacts. In the new circumstances students will find that others are keen to make new friends. Furthermore, if they are moving to rented accommodation on campus or off campus they will have new flat-mates to get to know. In addition the university will have a whole host of clubs and societies. Social engagement is an aspect of university life that can be challenging for some students. Furthermore, those who remain in the parental home whilst studying may miss out on some of the social aspects of university life. Whilst it is still a question of balance between appropriate study time and social engagement the importance latter must not be overlooked!

11


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: An Olympic Model for Holistic Student Health and Well-being

Academic Achievement Academic Workload

+ + =

Good Stress

Academic Workload

+ + =

Bad Stress

A Degree of Control

No/Low Degree of Control

A Sense of Purpose

No/Low Sense of Purpose

This is an obvious goal for the student and university but is perhaps not a direct consideration for the health care providers. (A detailed discussion on the aspects of academic performance is beyond the scope of the article and this author!) But a student’s health will influence their academic performance and, conversely, academic demands may affect the student’s health. Circumstances are not helped if the student falls into the “earn to learn” category and have to get paid work part-time in order to keep a student loan under control! This can result in unintended neglect of academic work if the pressures of paid work conflict with their study priorities. Again the situation may be exacerbated by the fact that in a lot of cases the part-time job will involve such activities as waitressing or bar-work, which can often involve late night working hours. For many the problem relates to the sheer workload demands from academic and other work with a feeling of loss of control. (Fears about prospects after graduation may also add to the student’s stress by affecting their sense of purpose!) As stated by Grant & Potenza (2010) time-management is important. This includes monitoring of time, goal setting/ prioritizing and planning. Self-monitoring is a useful exercise as it can be surprising how quickly time can be flittered away. Keeping a diary over a number of days it might surprise the student how much time they might spend preparing to study rather than actual study or how much time is spent on social internet networks rather than online research. Using this information may enable the student to reallocate more dedicated time to their studies whilst allowing themselves appropriate breaks. Goal setting/prioritising and planning can give the student more control over the time pressures which are inevitable in university life. Students will feel a sensation of information overload and setting study goals and prioritizing the topics for their study will be vital. They need to learn how to separate the wood from the trees!

Meaning & Purpose Theologians and philosophers may spend a great deal of their time considering the meaning of life. For most of us it is not an everyday consideration – possibly only considered at certain particular times. These may be times of change which might include the changes involved in moving to Third Level Education. Other times may include those times of change relating to family circumstances and to personal health and circumstances (e.g. financial, relationship or health related which might include depression, eating-disorders and issues around gender orientation). Meaning & Purpose is a term used by Prof. Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Whilst it might be amalgamated into Psychological well-being, I believe it deserves a section of its own and completes one of the “rings” of the Olympic symbol. The psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1992 p. 217) states of the meaning of Life: ’The meaning of life is meaning – whatever it is, wherever it comes from”. It is meaning with a sense of purpose that allows students to make the most of the student experience. It is both the initiator of the effort and the goal to which to strive for! As previously stated high self-worth, positive values and self-esteem are very important in personal wellbeing. Meaning and Purpose can be found by some in orthodox religions of course, but is also found in other areas. Family, career and community will also provide meaning and purpose. Furthermore, a person’s sporting interest, music or involvement in campaigns the individual feels strongly about may become a focus of meaning. Generally, it is better to have meaning and purpose across a variety of avenues rather than focused on a single cause which could lead to either fanaticism or disillusionment!

12


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: An Olympic Model for Holistic Student Health and Well-being

The area of Meaning & Purpose (perhaps considered by some under the term spiritual growth) can be overlooked or considered too hard to approach within Higher Education Institutions. Sometimes it is left to enthusiasts who in their own enthusiasm can actually deter students from considering the subject. Alternatively it can be so neglected that the institution can literally feel that it’s got no soul. It requires a high level of institutional emotional intelligence and light touch management to get the balance right.

Putting Holistic Student Health & Well-Being into Practice. The University Health Centre at Queen’s uses the principles of holistic health care to shape its care of students registering with the practice as their GP practice. This will include large numbers of students moving into Belfast from other areas of Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as international students. Increasingly, a sizeable minority are mature and post-graduate students. We encourage the students to consider every aspect of their health and have staff with specialist training in areas such as Sports and Exercise Medicine, Mental Health and Sexual Health. We have also developed a Facebook page for University Health Centre at Queen’s through which we attempt to raise a broad range of topics covered within the five key areas. Additionally, we liaise with the Student Services Forum within Queen’s University and have contributed to their revised Student Mental Health Strategy and the newly developed Student Well-Being Strategy. The University has become increasingly engaged in the holistic approach to student health and wellbeing and works strenuously to continually improve the student experience. This again is work in progress. More recently, the author of this paper has contributed to work by a (recently retired) Belfast psychiatrist who is working with the Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya to develop their student mental health strategy and they are interested in this ‘Olympic Model’ in their approach to student health and wellbeing Of course, the main aim will be to get the individual student in the different institutions to think of their own wellbeing in a holistic fashion. If the student can appreciate the inter-connected nature of these five key areas they can use this knowledge to enhance the student experience and their success whilst at university. This same approach can then be used to enhance life as a graduate!

Bibliography 1. Berwick B., Mulhern B., Barkham M., Trusler K., Hill A., Stiles W. Changes in undergraduate student alcohol consumption as they progress through university. BMC Public Health 2008, 8:163; 19 May 2008 2. Cahill E., Byrne M. Alcohol and drug use in students attending a student health centre. Irish Medical Journal. 103(8):230-3, 2010 Sept. 3. Coghill N., Orme J., Swindells M., Sensible drinking amongst students in Higher Education Institutions in the South West Region. School of Health and Social Care, University of the West of England, Bristol. 2009 4. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. 1992. Flow: The Psychology of Happiness. London: Rider & Co.. p. 217 5. Fit and Well – Changing Lives – a Ten Year Public Health Strategic Framework for Northern Ireland. http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/fit-and-well-consultation-document.pdf 6. Grant J.E., Potenza M.N. 2010. Young Adult Mental Health. New York: Oxford University Press 7. Kracen A. The Mental Health Initiative. A resource manual for mental health promotion and suicide prevention in third level institutions. A partnership initiative between Trinity College Dublin and the Northern Area Health Board.http:// www.mentalhealthpromotion.net/resources/mental-health-initiative-manual.pdf 8. The Mental Health of Students in Higher Education. Royal College of Psychiatrists, London; Council Report, CR166, September 2011. 9. Martin Seligman. 2003 Authentic Happiness. London Nicholas Brealey Publishing. 10. Prochaska JO, Norcross JC, DiClemente CC, Changing for Good. A revolutionary six-stage program for overcoming bad habits and moving your life positively forward. New York: Quill; 2002 11. Spencer L., Admans TB., Malone S., Roy L., Yost E. Applying the transtheoretical model to exercise. A systematic and comprehensive review of the literature. Health Promotion Practice 2006;7:428-43

Biography Dr Martin Cunningham has been a GP for 21 years and is a GP Partner at University Health Centre at Queen’s were he has worked since 2003. He sits on Queen’s University Student Support Forum. He has special interests in Student Health, Young Adult Mental Health and Sports Medicine. 13


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Health Promotion in Higher Education – at the margin or in the core?

Health Promotion in Higher Education – at the margin or in the core? Eva Devaney, Mary Immaculate College

Introduction This paper will discuss the challenges of integrating health into non-health sector organisations (such as educational settings), and argue the case for stronger confluence of the health and education sectors. Evidence from literature and research conducted at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) will be presented that will highlight some of the factors that facilitate integration and also some of the challenges we have encountered in this regard. The paper will conclude by presenting recommendations for advancing health promotion in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

The integration of health into HEIs Why should HEIs bother addressing health as part of their core business? Actually, there are many arguments against mainstreaming health promotion in HEIs. The core business of HEIs is clearly about educational and academic outcomes, with a focus on student recruitment, retention, and academic achievement. Concepts of health and wellbeing are usually not included in HEIs’ mission statements. One could also well argue that HEIs cannot solve society’s health problems. In addition, the evidence base for effectiveness of health promotion initiatives in this setting is still at infancy stage (but growing) (Dooris 2006). In the current climate of evidence based practice and cost-benefit analysis, some may argue that health promotion in the HE setting has not yet proven itself. Clearly, these are challenges and there is a risk that health might not be valued or perhaps seen as a “nice extra”. The challenge of marrying education and health is not new. International literature on health promoting schools and HEIs has reported on the tension between the two sectors (Nutbeam 2000, St. Leger and Nutbeam 2000, St. Leger 2000, St. Leger 2001, St. Leger 2004, St. Leger et al. 2007, Dooris 2005, Dooris and Doherty 2010, Deschesnes et al. 2010). So why should HEIs engage with health promotion? It is the author’s strong belief that a healthy student that makes informed and positive lifestyle choices is an engaged student, and one that will have an easier journey through their time in HE and greater chances of success at the end of the journey. It is now well accepted that most of the factors that determine our health lie outside the health sector. The factors that influence our health range from individual factors such as genetics, age and gender, to the lifestyle we live, to our social and community networks we interact with, and probably most importantly, the structural factors such as housing, unemployment, our living and working conditions, and the wider socioeconomic cultural and environmental conditions (Dahlgren and Whitehead 1993, Wilkinson & Marmot 2003, Bloom 2005, Marmot et al. 2008). These “layers of determinants of health” can be seen in Figure 1:

Figure 1. The Determinants of Health (Dahlgren and Whitehead 1993).

In this way of thinking about health, health is not just an individual responsibility, but a collective one, involving all sectors that have potential to influence health. In this model, at population level, education is a key social health determinant and education influences future health outcomes. There is also an emerging evidence base around how health and health behaviours are linked with educational outcomes.

14


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Health Promotion in Higher Education – at the margin or in the core?

This reciprocal relationship can be examined in Figure 2, which highlights the theoretical framework underpinning these links. It shows the very complex interplay of factors that influence, moderate and mediate education and health outcomes, including personal, social and economic factors as well as the wider policy contexts.

Figure 2. The Reciprocal Relationship between Education and Health (Higgins et al. 2008)

In a health promoting HE context, HEIs have the potential to influence several of these mediating and moderating factors such as health behaviours, knowledge and skills for health, encouragement of social engagement and participation in College networks, and encouragement of a healthy culture in the HEI. The HE can do so through policy development, providing healthy environments and specific programmes. In doing so, they have the potential to influence both health and academic outcomes. So while the core agendas of the public health and education sectors are different, this reciprocal relationship is at the very root of the argument for including health in educational settings. This is precisely how investments for health in the HE sector contribute not only to local and national health targets, but also to higher education agendas such as student recruitment, retention, student experience and academic achievements. In this view, health reinforces and enhances the mission of the HE sector. Most research that supports the link between health and educational outcomes has been conducted in the primary and post-primary school settings, with limited evidence from the HE setting (Higgins et al. 2008, Suhrcke and de Paz Nieves 2011). A recent review of the evidence base of the effectiveness of school health promotion demonstrated how these programmes impact on both health and educational outcomes of young people (International Union of Health Promotion and Education 2009, 2010), and a recent systematic review has highlighted strong positive associations between risky health behaviours in adolescents and poor academic achievement (Bradley and Greene 2013). While some parallels and conclusions can be drawn from schools based research and applied to third level, there is still a gap in the literature in terms of the evidence base that links health and educational outcomes at third level. Limited research has found associations between some health issues such as mental health, sleep and alcohol consumption, and educational outcomes such as retention and academic success, but clearly more needs to be done in this area, both nationally and internationally.

The Experience at Mary Immaculate College The process of embedding health into a non-health organisation will now be discussed by drawing from our experiences of the Health Promotion Service at Mary Immaculate College (MIC). MIC has been a health promoting college since 1996 when it was introduced as a pilot project. This project was evaluated at the end of the pilot in 2000 (Fleming et al. 2001), 15


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Health Promotion in Higher Education – at the margin or in the core?

and in 2010 another evaluation of the service was conducted. The Health Promotion Service will be outlined in brief, and some of the findings from the 2010 evaluation that are linked to embededness will be presented.

Description of Health Promotion at MIC MIC is based in the southwest of Limerick City. There are over 300 staff members and in excess of 3,000 students that engage in B.Ed (primary teaching), B.Ed. and Psychology, B.A., B.A. in Early Childhood Care and Education, and a number of post graduate programmes in education and humanities. The service is underpinned by principles adopted from the Ottawa Charter (World Health Organization (WHO) 1986), which advocated a settings approach to health promotion, and suggested five areas of action: building healthy policy, creating healthy environments, reorienting health services, developing personal skills and strengthening community action. We also base our strategic thinking on the model developed by O’Donnell and Grey (1993). They were early authors on health promotion in this sector, however, twenty years later, the model is still practical and relevant, and complements the Ottawa Charter. Their model sets out a framework with four key institutional determinants – the institution, the environment, the curriculum, and the relationships in the college. Each determinant is interconnected but also stands alone. More recently we recognise the work of Dooris and Doherty (2008) and concur with their view about the aims of a health promoting HEI: • Creating healthy and sustainable working, learning and living environments for students, staff and visitors • Increasing profile of health and sustainable development in teaching, research and knowledge exchange • Contributing to health and sustainability of the wider community • Evaluating work, building evidence of effectiveness, and sharing learning The MIC health promotion service mission statement reads that… As a Health Promoting College we endeavour to promote the health and wellbeing of all members of the college community through policy development, the provision of programmes and activities and the implementation of specific health promotion strategies. The health promotion team consist of a coordinator, a health promotion service adviser and a student health promotion officer, a B.A. student who completes a work experience placement in the office. The office is centrally located in the College. The service is overseen by a College committee with wide representation, and has close links with all other student support services, including the Students’ Union, and some academic departments. The service has also formed links with a number of agencies and organisations outside the institution, e.g. the Health Service Executive, Bord Bia, Limerick City Sports Partnership, University of Limerick, Bodywhys, Marie Keating Foundation, and the Irish Heart Foundation. Institutional communication channels include email (for example, we send out a weekly diary), social media (facebook), posters, noticeboards, word of mouth and drop-in. From our research we know that students prefer facebook, posters and word of mouth over email, while our staff members prefer email.

The 2010 Evaluation The overall evaluation aim was to examine the extent of development and progress of the service since 2000, and we were mostly interested in how far the initiative had been integrated into the College. The evaluation adopted a mixed method approach, which included 23 semi-structured interviews with staff members and SU representatives, and these were conducted and analysed by an external researcher. A rapid appraisal survey with 100 students was also undertaken. Survey data were subject to descriptive analysis while the qualitative data was analysed using thematic content analysis. As one of the areas of interest was the extent of integration of the project into the organisation, some indicators for integration had to be applied. Among many possibilities, institutional determinants, staff member perceptions, student awareness and engagement, perceptions of healthy supportive environments and partnerships were chosen as the most suitable indicators. Looking at institutional determinants and the infrastructure of the project, it is now core funded, with staff whose sole role is health promotion, it is seen as a core professional service in the college, it has office space, presence on the web and is overseen by a committee with wide college representation – all indicators of embeddedness.

16


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Health Promotion in Higher Education – at the margin or in the core?

Most staff members held positive views around the mainstreaming of the initiative into college systems, illustrated in these statements: “the service is now grounded in the College”, “it has come an awfully long way”. A minority felt that it did not impact widely beyond those who actively participated in events and programmes, “in my opinion it has not reached the wider student population”, while many held views that fell between the two extremes, “we are getting there”. Student engagement is another important dimension of integration. Engagement was examined in the survey and the key findings are highlighted in Figure 3. There was a high level of awareness (83%) of the service with just over half of the students in the sample being aware of various events and programmes that had taken place of the academic year when the survey took place. One third of the sample had visited the office (students visit the office generally to sign up for courses or events, to browse information, and to engage in a brief intervention service for targeted advice on lifestyle topics). About 12% were aware of the weekly newsletter. Actual participation in events and programmes averaged at around 3% for the students in the sample.

% sample

Figure 3. Student Engagement with Service

Another dimension of integration is to examine whether the campus environment, both in terms of facilities, services and policies are perceived to support health. This is because in the health promoting university concept, it is everybody’s role to promote health, not just the health promoting service. On average about three-quarters of the sample perceived that the various services supported their health, varying from 72 – 78% depending on the service. There were high levels of agreement that facilities supported their health, 73 – 90% depending on the facility, with lower levels of agreement for campus policies at 53 – 80% depending on the policy. The final dimension examined was the extent of internal and external partnerships, a fundamental principle in the health promoting university concept. It was noted that the initiative had links with most if not all other students support services and some academic departments, and there are links with many external agencies. To summarise, evidence was found for all indicators to support the view that the initiative is becoming increasingly integrated into the College systems. The evaluation noted that continuing challenges for the initiative included the view among some that health is not core to the institution. As highlighted earlier, this is not a new issue, and work still needs to be done in highlighting the links between health and education in our institutional context. The encouragement of active student engagement and participation is another challenge, one that is not new to a lot of different HE contexts, nationally and internationally. The challenge of our increasingly diverse student population and meeting with their complex needs is one that many student support services are currently facing and not unique to the MIC Health Promotion Service. Finally, the current financial climate is a challenge to all student support services, and not unique to ours. Among the challenges, opportunities also emerged. The opportunity for linking in further with academic departments and integrating health into the curriculum to a wider extent was noted. One recent example is the mainstreaming of a five-week Lifeskills component to the new four-year B. Ed. Course, in the “Becoming a Student Teacher” module in the first semester. The need to raise awareness and visibility of the service in new and different ways also emerged as an opportunity. Following the evaluation, the service has had an increasingly stronger presence in social media and forged closer links with College communication office. New students are encouraged to sign up to receive the weekly newsletter during Orientation Week. 17


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Health Promotion in Higher Education – at the margin or in the core?

Finally, we recognised an opportunity to strengthen the research profile, and since this study have undertaken two further research projects with pre-service teachers around Relationships and Sexuality Education and Social, Personal, and Health Education.

Achieving confluence of health and education Having reviewed a local example of integration of a health project into a non-health organisation, the issue of integration of health and education will now be examined from a wider perspective. I would argue that there is a need for greater confluence of education and health, and that the responsibility for academic achievement and health needs to be shared between the education and health sectors. The core agendas of the two sectors are different but inter linked. The reciprocal links between health, education and work cannot be ignored and these need to be made more explicit and receive stronger priority in the future. This needs to be done at institutional levels to support the embeddedness process, but it also needs to be done at national and international levels. How can the process of embedding be facilitated – how can health promotion move from the margins to the core? After all, systematic embedding of health into the fabric of a setting is one of the core principles of the settings approach to health promotion (Grossman and Scala 1993). Kramer (2000, p.6) has noted that an institutionalised programme is one that is “routine, wide spread, legitimized, expected, supported, permanent and resilient”. Previous research of innovations in HEI that are not traditional core activities has found that they tend to succeed when they are integrated into existing activities (rather than being separate stand-alone activities) and are seen as compatible with institutional norms (Furco and Holland 2004, Furco 2007). They also need political and financial support from the institution, with senior management support a key factor. It also needs time, studies point to up to seven years and sometimes longer (Furco 2007). .

Recommendations Recommendations to progress the health promoting university concept in Ireland include the following: First, I advocate for a government endorsed, intersectoral, healthy university programme or network. This was put forward as an objective in the national health prompting university strategy in 2000 (Department of Health and Children), but was never delivered upon. There may be a role for the Confederation of Student Services in Ireland to support this process. Second, there may be a role for regional networks in health promotion – we need to share our examples of best practice and pool our resources. There may be an opportunity in the near future as our higher education landscape is being reconfigured. Third, I advocate for an international network in line with the Health Promoting Schools network to be developed. This was recommended in the WHO framework document in 1998 (Tsourous et al.) but has not materialised. Fourth, it was noted earlier that there is a gap in the literature regarding the effectiveness of the health promoting university approach in achieving health and educational outcomes. The evidence base in this area needs to be strengthened. There has been some significant national research regarding the health of our student population (see for example Hope et al. 2005, Dooley and Fitzgerald 2012), but the evidence base around how health impacts on academic success needs to be strengthened. This could be achieved by including the measurement of educational outcomes or indicators when researching health in our third level students and including health measures and indicators when assessing educational outcomes.

Conclusion Our experiences indicate that the process of integration is not a finite one. HE settings are in constant flux and embedding should be viewed as an on-going and dynamic process, in line with the philosophy of health promoting universities: “A HPU is not one that has achieved a particular level of health; it is one that is conscious of health and striving to improve it” (Tsourous et al. 1998, p.129).

Acknowledgements Project co-researcher was Carol O’Sullivan, Health Promotion Coordinator and SPHE lecturer, Mary Immaculate College. Funding for the evaluation was received from the MIC Research Office. The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of any affiliated organisations. 18


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Health Promotion in Higher Education – at the margin or in the core?

References Bloom, D.E. (2005), ‘Education and Public Health: Mutual Challenges Worldwide: Guest Editor’s Overview’, Comparative Education Review 49, 4, 437–51 Bradley, B. J., and Greene, A. C. (2013) ‘Do Health and Education Agencies in the United States Share Responsibility for Academic Achievement and Health? A Review of 25 Years of Evidence About the Relationship of Adolescents’ Academic Achievement and Health Behaviors’, Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 5, 523 - 532 Dahlgren G, Whitehead M (1993). ‘Tackling inequalities in health: what can we learn from what has been tried?’ Working paper prepared for the King’s Fund International Seminar on Tackling Inequalities in Health, September 1993, Oxfordshire. London: King’s Fund Department of Health and Children (2000) National Health Promotion Strategy 2000/2005, Dublin: Stationary Office Deschesnes, M., Trudeau, F. and Kebe, M. (2010) ‘Factors influencing the adoption of a Health Promoting School approach in the province of Quebec, Canada’, Health Education Research, 25, 3, 438 - 450 Dooley, B. and Fitzgerald, A. (2012) My World Survey: National Study of Youth Mental Health in Ireland, Dublin: Headstrong and UCD Dooris, M. (2005) ‘A qualitative review of Walsall Arts into Health Partnership’, Health Education, 105, 5, 355-373 Dooris, M. (2006) ‘Healthy settings: challenges to generating evidence of effectiveness’, Health Promotion International, 21, 1, 55 - 65 Dooris, M. and Doherty, S. (2008) English Healthy Universities Network: Framework for Action. Healthy Settings Development Unit, University of Central Lancashire, Preston Dooris, M. and Doherty, S. (2010) ‘Healthy universities - time for action: a qualitative research study exploring the potential for a national programme’, Health Promotion International, 25, 1, 94-106 Fleming, P. Gorman, M. And Slater, P. (2001) An evaluation of the Health Promoting College Project 1996-2000, Limerick: Mary Immaculate College Furco, A. (2007) ‘Institutionalising Service Learning in Higher Education’, in MacIlrath, L. and MacAbhrainn, I. (eds) (2007) Higher Education and Civic Engagement: International Perspectives, Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited Furco, A, and Holland, B.A. (2004) ‘Institutionalising Service Learning in Higher Education: Issues and Strategies for chief academic officers’, in Langseth, W. and Plater W. M. (eds) (2004) Public Work and the Academy: An Academic Administrator’s Guide to Civic Engagement and Service Learning, Bolton, MA: Anker Grossman, R. and Scala, K. (1993) Health Promotion and Organisational Development: Developing Settings for Health, Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe Higgins, C., Lavin, T. and Metcalfe, O. (2008) Health Impacts of Education: A Review, Dublin: Institute of Public Health in Ireland Hope, A., Dring, C. And Dring, J. (2005) The health of Irish students, Dublin: Health Promotion Unit, Department of Health and Children International Union of Health Promotion and Education (2009) Achieving Health Promoting Schools: Guidelines for Promoting Health in Schools, St. Denis Cedex: International Union of Health Promotion and Education International Union of Health Promotion and Education (2010) Promoting health in schools: from evidence to action, St. Denis Cedex: International Union of Health Promotion and Education Kramer, M (2000) Make it last forever: the institutionalization of service learning in America, Washington, D.C.: Corporation for National Service Marmot, M., Friel, S., Bell, R., Houweling, T. and Taylor, S. (2008) ‘Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health’, The Lancet, 372, 9650, 1661-69 19


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Health Promotion in Higher Education – at the margin or in the core?

Nutbeam, D. (2000) ‘Health literacy as a public health goal: a challenge for contemporary health education and communication strategies into the 21st century’, Health Promotion International, 15, 3, 259-67 O’Donnell, T. and Grey, G. (1993) The Health Promoting College, London: Health education Authority St. Leger, L. (2000) ‘Reducing the barriers to the expansion of health-promoting schools by focusing on teachers’, Health Education, 100, 2, 81 - 87 St. Leger, L. (2001) ‘Schools, health literacy and public health: possibilities and challenges’ Health Promotion International, 16, 2, 197 - 205 St. Leger, L. (2004) ‘What’s the place of schools in promoting health? Are we too optimistic?’, Health Promotion International, 19, 4, 405-408 St. Leger, L. and Nutbeam, D. (2000) ‘A Model for Mapping Linkages Between Health and Education Agencies to Improve School Health’, Journal of School Health, 70, 2, 45 – 50 St. Leger, L., Kolbe, L., Lee, A., McCall, D. S. and Young, I. M. (2007). ‘School health promotion’ in McQueen, D. and Jones, C.J. (eds) (2007) Global perspectives on health promotion effectiveness, New York: Springer Suhrcke M, and de Paz Nieves C (2011) The impact of health and health behaviours on educational outcomes in high income countries: a review of the evidence, Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe. Tsouros, A.D., Dowding, G., Thompson, J, and Dooris, M. (eds) (1998) Health promoting universities: concept, experience and framework for action, Copenhagen: World Health Organization Wilkinson, R. & Marmot, M. (2003) The Solid Facts, Second Edition, Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe World Health Organization (1986) The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, Geneva: World Health Organization

20


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Holistic Approaches to Health Maintenance in the B.Sc. Pharmacy Degree at Trinity College

SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE Peer Support: A Recipe for a Happier Student 22 Kathy Bunney & Claire Dunne, University College Cork

The Fresher Agenda – Improving retention through early student engagement 29 Frances Sheridan, National College of Ireland

Scaffolding Student Learning in higher education A New Student Guide to Assignment Writing 34 Ann Heelan, AHEAD (Association for Higher Education and Disability) & Helen Carroll, Dublin Institute of Technology

EUROSTUDENT and the Social Dimension of European Higher Education – looking at the 36 total student experience from a European perspective Dr Dominic Orr, HIS-Institute for Research on Higher Education

21


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: Peer Support: A Recipe for a Happier Student

Peer Support: A Recipe for a Happier Student Kathy Bunney & Claire Dunne, University College Cork

Abstract Student support has been identified in educational literature as being a key factor in student persistence and academic achievement (Tinto, 1975; Pascarella and Terenzini, 1977; Terenzini and Wright, 1982). The commitment of an institution toward student services is fundamental towards opening access to the university (Paul, 1990). Mr. Ruairi Quinn, Minister for Education and Skills, in March this year listed as one of his priorities, the welfare of the student and the connections that must be present to ensure a smooth transition from one level to another (Education.ie, 2013). uLink Peer Support provides this to the students in University College Cork (UCC) in a manner that is student-led but supported by the uLink Co-ordinator in a remarkable manner that has allowed the programme to be organic and grow to meet the needs of the university’s students. This paper will outline the service provided by uLink, the manner in which it operates and the impact it has had on the lives of those who volunteer as peer supporters and those who are being supported, the students. In order to assess the programme, a brief outline of what peer mentoring is and why it should be in place will be explored.

Introduction The Clan Report 2003, identified that students’ ability to cope with the growing pressure of college life has a direct impact on their wellbeing. Some students’ vulnerability was evident in the results of the study as they were unwilling or unable to reach out for support and assistance. Studies have shown that peer support/mentoring clearly demonstrates the importance of peer relationships for students when coping with college life. Students at-risk of dropping out of college seek help and advice from their fellow students (McKavanagh, Connor, & West, 1996). Research also demonstrates that the use of peer support programmes increase students’ persistence with study (Clulow & Brennan, 1996), helps them have higher grades (Rodger & Tremblay, 2003) and increases their engagement, satisfaction and retention (Kruasse, 2005; Krause, 2007). Components that have been identified as having to be present in order for a mentoring process to be effective include emotional and psychological support and role modelling (Jacobi, 1991). A mentor is defined as a knowledgeable and experienced guide, a trusted ally and advocate, and a caring role model (Omatsu, 2004). Student mentors are known as ‘peer mentors’ as they are on an equal level with the students. Omatsu points to their importance as often the peer mentors are the first to be approached by a student in difficulty, be it with academic or personal issues. It may only be through peer to peer interaction that encouragement can be given to make contact with student services that can be of assistance. The daunting experience of entering a large university cannot be underestimated for students that are typically seventeen or eighteen years of age. Often this is their first time away from home, their first taste of freedom and their first attempt at self directed learning. Both socially and academically it can take time to settle into university life and the peer mentor and UCC’s peer supporter is often the first point of contact that the student is comfortable approaching for help. The student population has become increasingly diverse, incorporating large numbers of international students whose needs differ from Irish students and groups such as mature students and students with disabilities. In order to address the differing population within the student cohort it has been recognised in UCC that ‘peer’ should mean just that. uLink has developed to such a degree that all mature students are now given a current mature student ‘peer’ thus ensuring every student has a link with someone that can relate to their specific needs based on their experience.

Background uLink Peer Support is a support service specifically aimed at first year undergraduate students in UCC throughout their first year of college. The service was set up under the Vice-President for Student Experience and the Department of Student Counselling and Development in November 2008 when UCC employed a Peer Assisted Student Support (PASS) Coordinator to develop a University wide peer support programme. The practice of peer support had been present within the college within student societies, such as MedSoc and within the Access area i.e. the Mature Students Office, UCC Plus+ and Disability Support Service.  This work was extremely successful and resulted in high retention rates for Access students (Annual Report, 2010).

22


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: Peer Support: A Recipe for a Happier Student

In uLink Peer Support, student volunteers known as Peer Support Leaders are trained to provide a confidential space and emotional or practical support to their peers. In turn, the volunteers are supported in their role by the PASS Coordinator. The programme objectives are to encourage a sense of belonging and community in UCC through the cultivating of a caring and supportive environment. By supporting the development of coping skills, which enhances the self-confidence of the student, the student’s experience within the university will improve. This in turn will lead to increased grades and retention.

uLink Peer Support Implementation From the outset Peer Support Leaders were involved with the branding, the development of the website and social media. As the service is dedicated to the enrichment of students’ lives within the university the focus to achieve this in the most efficient and effective manner was to place the students in a position where their voices could be heard. In this manner an organic service was created that has developed into today’s service. Over the four-year period since its inception, 670 peer supporters have been trained who have met approximately 15,800 students at orientation and supported those students throughout the year. This includes Erasmus and Junior Year Abroad students. In keeping with the ethos of the programme, to involve students in the development of the service as much as possible, the Steering Committee which drives the programme forward has peer support representatives from the four Colleges in UCC along with the Students’ Union Welfare Officer. They meet each month during the academic year. The group work well together to advise in the development of the programme and feed into the decision making process. Working Groups have also been set up within the programme that focus on specific tasks throughout the year. The Promotion Group/Peer Support Week working group ensure that uLink is made more visible on campus. They specifically organise a peer support stand during S.A.D week on campus and also organise Peer Support Week where a free tea/ coffee stand is manned on campus every day by peer supporters. They give out free hugs, compliments and thank you cards to students. The weeks are generally a success and renew peer supporters enthusiasm in their role as well as reminding students of the support they can receive through uLink. The Entertainments Group organises social activities for peer supporters throughout the year. This is an important function that affords peer supporters the opportunity to get together after orientation and during the year. It is key for peer supporters to feel part of a team and as a consequence to remain motivated in their roles. There are six elements to the implementation and development of uLink Peer Support as outlined in Figure 1. These are: volunteer recruitment and training, support of first years at orientation and throughout the year, support of peer support leaders and evaluation/feedback to influence future development of the programme. Peer support leaders are actively involved in each element of the process and as a result they claim ownership of the programme. Their views are sought and their input required each step of the way for uLink to work effectively. In being viewed as a resource for the programme and for the university, uLink benefits from the richness of volunteers’ skills, abilities, ideas and experience. At the same time, the volunteers benefit from feeling part of a community for which they need to take responsibility and they develop skills that enhance their experiences and opportunities in university and beyond. Evaluation and Programme Improvement

Recruitment of Volunteers Application & Interview

Peer Support Leader Training

Support of Peer Supporters – Reflective Learning

Support during the Year for First Years

First Year Orientation

Figure 1. uLink Peer Support Cycle

23


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: Peer Support: A Recipe for a Happier Student

Recruitment of Peer Support Leaders Recruitment of peer supporters takes place in January each year for the next academic year. Students are recruited through an all-student email and through targeting specific courses where volunteers have not come forward.

Interviews Applicants take part in group interviews with UCC PASS Coordinator, First Year Experience Coordinator and current peer supporter representatives to confirm suitability of candidates.

Training In signing up to the volunteer role, students are expected to attend training which is covered over a three day period. The first two days equip volunteers with the skills to be an effective peer supporter and include topics such as active listening skills, boundaries, confidentiality, referrals and leadership skills. Peer supporters lead up to 30 students in groups around campus at orientation, so presentation skills and public speaking are part of the first two days’ training to ensure they are competent in their role. Peer support leader training is based on group work with time for discussion, interaction and experiential learning and is coaching in emphasis. The third day’s training focuses on preparing the peer supporters for when they meet with and guide first years through their orientation to UCC. Training provides volunteers with the opportunity to get to know one another, so that they work effectively in teams. Training takes place in March, April and June for groups of about 20-30 peer supporters. All peer supporters come together for the final day of orientation training in September just before orientation begins. Training is not only provided by staff members, but also by peer support leaders that have experience within the role. They are consulted on additional training modules to be included, for example differing aspects of the role will be explored to highlight issues that may have arisen throughout the year. At the end of training each peer support leader will have covered the following areas: • Communication skills • Boundaries • Confidentiality • Referrals (UCC Services) • Orientation, Campus tours • Icebreakers • Effective emailing • Managing groups and Presentation skills (delivered by Careers Service) • Study skills workshop (delivered by consultant UCC staff member) (Training Manual, 2013)

First Year Orientation It cannot be emphasised enough that the first weeks in University are vital to students settling in well to college life, their class and programme of study. Peer supporters play a very large part in creating the conditions for a positive start and a fulfilling student experience. The expected commitment of a peer supporter extends well beyond orientation day although that is where they are most visible to the university. At this time an army of red shirts descend on the university campus to welcome the new entrants. Often this greeting is the most important aspect of orientation as it ensures the new student has a sense of belonging. Each September approximately 95% (approximately 3,200) of first year undergraduate students attended their orientation in UCC. At this time, peer supporters are expected to guide the new students efficiently and pleasantly around the campus addressing any queries the students may have. Generally included in their day is: • academic orientation session • introduction to peer supporters and ice-breaker with class • registration • library tour • IT workshops • campus tour

24


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: Peer Support: A Recipe for a Happier Student

Each day some peer supporters are appointed as Coordinators to help with organisation, to walk the campus ensuring any students/parents requiring help were looked after, and to provide an extra support to other peer supporters. The orientation days began at 8.15am for Coordinators, 8.30am for other volunteers and generally ended at approximately 4pm. There is also a ‘class party’ organised for the first years each evening that the peer supporters for that day are asked to attend. At orientation peer supporters were matched with first years doing the same programme as them. From the outset, first years have the benefit of specific information about their programme to help them settle into UCC. To ensure there are enough volunteers each day to support incoming students, volunteers were required to be there for more than one day during orientation. In 2011/2012 on average there was approximately seven first years to one peer supporter each day on campus.

Support during the academic year Throughout the academic year peer support leaders maintain contact with the first years that they are matched with at orientation. Peer supporters email and text first years periodically during the year, to let the students know they are still there for them as required. They meet with groups of students or on a one-to-one basis as needed. In the first weeks, peer supporters organise class parties for first years before their class reps are elected. Many peer supporters also offer study-skills workshops to first years. Peer support leaders also provide support to students who are not in first year as and when the need arises. This can often happen on a casual basis when peer supporters wearing their identifiable red hoodies or t-shirts are stopped on campus by students who have questions. It can also be a more formal support when students are referred for peer support through the Student Counselling and Development Department. Peer supporters are involved in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) week and organise Peer Support Week on campus during the academic year to highlight the importance of mental health and well-being. This provides peer supporters with the opportunity to remind students that peer support is there and to encourage students to help one another in general within the campus community. Contact with the designated staff member during the first month ties the peer supporter into the department and ensures the staff are aware of the peer supporter’s role within the university. With their permission the peer supporters are encouraged to call into a first year lecture during the first weeks to remind student of their existence should they need to contact them. Each student will also receive e-mails from the peer supporter five times throughout the year. As the co-ordinator has led the organic growth of UCC’s peer support programme, new supporting opportunities are added each year based on suggestions of current peer supporters. Drop-in tea and coffee mornings are now available each week for all students run by peer support. The student common room is the venue, as students feel comfortable to interact here. A Parent support group was also piloted in 2012-2013 giving student parents the opportunity to meet a few times during the year over a coffee. Study skills workshops are provided to the peer supporters to equip them with the skills and knowledge so that if they wish, they can run workshops for first years in the first weeks of term so that the students can begin their academic journey well equipped. These workshops compliment the range of supports available to the first year student.

Supporting the Supporter - Reflective Learning Meetings Reflective learning meetings were developed as a means of providing support and supervision to peer supporters. There are three elements to reflective learning meetings: 1. Reflect on interactions with first years (support and supervision) 2. Discuss practical issues relating to the programme (i.e. first year feedback, emails being sent out, suggestions for improvement) 3. Theme or topic for self-development/training for peer supporters Peer supporters can attend any reflective learning meeting scheduled during the months of October, November, February and March with some extra meetings also held in December and January. The meetings were at various times in the day/evening. During the year there are approximately 48 reflective learning meetings held in total. The following themes for self-development/training at reflective learning meetings were covered at the meeting: Self-Care, Mindfulness, Behaviour Types.

25


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: Peer Support: A Recipe for a Happier Student

The PASS Coordinator is available to meet with peer support leaders on a one-to-one basis also throughout the year, should they wish to discuss a situation regarding a first year or other student for advice and guidance.

The difference peer support makes During the academic year, the PASS Coordinator gains informal feedback about the programme from peer support leaders through reflective learning meetings. Training of new peer supporters also allows new volunteers, many of whom are first years, the opportunity to feedback about their experience. As a more formal means of evaluating the programme, at the end of each academic year, first year feedback and peer support leader feedback is sought to gain information that may help to identify problems with the service and ways to improve it. The first year feedback is analysed by the Colleges of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Science; Business and Law; Medicine and Health; and Science, Engineering and Food Science. Some of the overall results of the 2012/2013 surveys are below.

First Year Feedback 2012/2013 Approximately 20% of first years completed an online survey in April/May 2013 to give feedback about uLink Peer Support (725 students) • 92% of respondents knew about uLink Peer Support • 95% think it is a worthwhile service in UCC • 71% know a peer support leader they feel they can approach • 59% of respondents had personal contact with peer supporters during the academic year • Of these, 94% of them found the peer supporters approachable and 95% helpful Ways that first years identified how peer support impacted on them included the following: • Friendly, approachable, welcoming, helped generally settling into UCC • Orientation had a significant positive impact • Reassuring and comforting to know they are there anytime • Helpful for knowledge, information, advice about UCC and programme of study • Helped to get to know others and make friends • Follow up contact and emails throughout year were good to receive • Helped to increase confidence • Positive that peer supporters are ‘peers’ having gone through similar experiences

Support Received by First Years during the Academic Year There has been an increase in the number of first years who sought the support of peer supporters in each year of the programme to date, from 10% in 2009/10, 16% in 2010/11 to 20% (671 first years) in 2011/12 following their initial contact at orientation. The main issues about which first years made contact were: academic (e.g. books, timetable, study tips), personal/ loneliness/ social and other issues related to UCC (e.g. clubs and societies information), and health (e.g. what to do in cases of illness-related absence). During the academic year 2011-2012, 30 first years who were contemplating withdrawing from University made contact with peer supporters. These students were referred to the First Year Experience Coordinator and Departmental Staff. They were also provided with ongoing or follow up support where the first years wished it. The main ways first years contacted peer supporters in 2011-2012 were; email (46% of contact), casual meetings (40%) and formal group meetings (7%). Peer supporters mainly provided practical information (43%), a listening ear (36%) and/or referral to UCC services/Academic staff (16%) and 5% involved offering a follow up one-to-one meeting with first years.

26


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: Peer Support: A Recipe for a Happier Student

Peer Support Leader Feedback 2012/2013 In April/May 2013, 30% of peer supporters for the academic year 2012/2013 completed an online anonymous survey to capture their views on uLink Peer Support and their experience of volunteering. Figure 2 illustrates the impact of being peer supporters on volunteers: • 97% of them have more knowledge about UCC services/structures • 89% felt good to help others • 85% made new friends • 85% had increased self-confidence • 75% had improved interpersonal skills • 66% were better able to help friends and classmates • 74% had improved their public speaking skills • 63% said it helped them get involved in other things More knowledge about UCC services/structures Felt good to help others

80

More knowledge about UCC services/structures

Made new friends

Felt good to help others

72 70

Increased self-confidence

Made new friends

66

Better able to help my own Increased self-confidence friends/classmates

P erc entage of P S L R es pondents

63 63 60 53 50

Better able to help my own friends classmates

Improved public speaking

56

55 46

Helped me involved in other things get Improved public speaking

44 45

Helped me Improved interpersonal skillsget

45 41

Better Listening Skills

38

40

Better communication skills

28

30

involved in other things

Improved Interpersonal Skills Better listening skills

30

Better communication skills

32

Increased self-awareness

Increased self-awareness

24

Better teamwork skills

Better Teamwork skills

More able seek help for myself toMore able to seek

20

help for myself

Betterskills presentation Better presentation

skills

Improved motivation Improved motivation

10

Better Coping skills

Better coping skills

0

Improved time management

T ype of Impac t

Improved time management

Figure 2. Impact of Volunteering on Peer Supporters

Conclusion UCC’s recently launched strategic plan (UCC, 2013) highlights the importance for the University of ranking amongst the leading universities in the area of student experience. Within its mission statement students are identified as the university’s top priority and values such as leadership, excellence and collaboration are held to the fore. The University is committed to the welfare of its students, which can be seen through the commitment given to the continued pursuit of excellence in the area of student experience. The introduction of the uLink peer support programme has benefited the University through the production of student leaders who are given the opportunity to ‘own’ the programme. This in turn has led to organic growth of the programme that can be seen today. Through the co-ordinators encouragement of student input and their voice being heard, the programme, is constantly evolving and is always fit for purpose. It is through initiatives like the steering committee and working groups that the co-ordinator has always got her finger on the pulse of the student body, is aware of issues that present, and can ensure the service that is provided grows to meet the ever diversifying student population. Prior to the introduction of uLink the overall retention rate of students in UCC was 88.6%. The latest available figures for the academic year of 2010/11 show an increase to 90.4%. While peer support cannot lay claim to all of the credit, a happier student is definitely a student that will wish to remain within the confines of the University. Through the provision of support for first year students they are made feel as though they belong and the support being provided by their peers allows for a smooth transition so that the university support services can be utilised as the peer supporter acts as a signpost to these services. 27


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: Peer Support: A Recipe for a Happier Student

The business of higher education is a competitive one and the student experience is ranking higher amongst potential students. The enhancement of the student experience through the continued engagement with peer support will allow UCC to remain in the top ranking universities for students.

Biographies Kathy Bunney is a final year law student in UCC and Undergraduate Award Winner in 2012. She has been involved in uLink Peer Support for the past two years as a peer support leader. Her interest in becoming a leader followed from the support she received in first year. A member of the Steering Committee for the past two years she has been awarded by the Students Union as a student leader in both years and honoured by USI as Mature Student of the Year in 2013. Claire Dunne is a Counselling Psychologist and Coordinator of the Peer Assisted Student Support (PASS) programme in University College Cork run through Student Counselling and Development. The PASS programme includes the studentto-student support services, uLink Peer Support and Niteline. Claire works with the rest of the Uplift to Positive Mental Health Team to deliver the Uplift programme.

Bibliography Clulow, V. and Brennan, L. (1996) ‘It’s not what you know it’s who you know: Student relationship constellations and their impact on study success and persistence’. In: James, R. and McInnes, C. eds. Transition to Active Learning: Proceedings of the 2nd Pacific Rim conference on the first year in higher education. Melbourne: University of Melbourne. Dunne, C. (2010) uLink Peer Support Annual Report. University College Cork. Dunne, C. (2013) uLink Peer Support Training Booklet. University College Cork. Krause, K. (2005) Serious thoughts about dropping out in first year: Trends, patterns and implications for higher education. Studies in Learning, Evaluation Innovation and Development. Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne, 2(3), pp. 55–68. http://sleid.cqu.edu.au Krause, K. (2007) Beyond the classroom walls: Students out-of-class peer experiences and implications for teaching and learning. Griffith University, Australia. McKavanagh, M., Connor, J., and West, J. (1996) ‘It’s moments like these you need mentors’. In James, R. and McInnes, C. eds. Transition to active learning: Proceedings of the 2 and Pacific Rim conference on the first year in higher education. Melbourne: University of Melbourne, Centre for the Study of Higher Education. Omatsu, G. (2004) Peer Mentoring Resource Booklet. Northridge, University of California. Pascarella, E.T., and Terenzini, P.T. (1977) Patterns of student – faculty information interaction beyond the classroom and voluntary freshman attrition, Journal of Higher Education, vol 48, pp 540-552. Paul, R.H. (1990) Open Learning and Open Management-Leadership and Integrity in distance education. Kogan Page, New York. Rodger, S., and Tremblay, P. F. (2003) The effects of a peer mentoring program on academic success among first year university students. Canadian Journal of Higher Education. Vol 33, pp. 1-18. Supporting a Better Transition From Second to Higher Education: Key Directions and Next Steps, March 2013 available at < www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Supporting-A-Better-Transition-From-Second-Level-To-HigherEducation-.pdf> [Accessed June 4th 2013] Terenzini, P.T. and Wright, T.M. (1987) Influences on students academic growth during four years of college. Research in Higher Education, vol 26, pp 161-179. Tinto, V., (1975). Dropout from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of Educational Research, vol 45, pp89-125. UCC Stategic Plan 2013-2017 available at < www.ucc.ie/en/media/support/hr/briona/UCCStrategicPlan_Web_English_ AW.pdf> [Accessed June 7th 2013]

28


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: The Fresher Agenda – Improving retention through early student engagement

The Fresher Agenda – Improving retention through early student engagement Frances Sheridan, National College of Ireland

Abstract A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in 2010 highlighted the issue of high attrition rates among first year Computer Science students (Chantler et Al, 2010). The importance of improving retention in Computer Science programmes is recognised and extensive research has been carried out to identify contributing factors (Kuh et al, 2007, Braxton, 2006). Braxton 2006 identifies Student Course Learning as a fundamental contributor to success in higher education encompassing 6 key areas including: academic attainment, acquisition of general education, development of academic confidence, development of cognitive skills and intellectual disciplines, occupational attainment and preparation for adulthood and citizenship. This paper presents the effects of a pilot project in which first year Computer Science students participated in a week long induction programme aimed at improving first year student retention through early student engagement. The induction programme had two key aims: • Integrating new students into the School of Computing, giving them a sense of identity as Computing students • Kick starting a series of transferable skills SWAT (Study Weapons and Tactics) workshops The key focus of the programme was a week-long Problem Based Learning (PBL) project supported by faculty through transferable skills workshops. Here, students competed in teams to plan a Fresher’s Week event for first year students in conjunction with the Students’ Union. This activity was further supported by interactive introductory lectures, career talks and past project presentations. The week culminated in Dragons Den style presentations of the three finalist ideas where the winning team was chosen and prizes were awarded. This paper is structured as follows. Section 1 describes the challenges faced by Computing Departments in third level institutes in tackling student retention. Section 2 outlines the induction programme introduced by the Computing Support Service at NCI. Section 3 is a discussion of the outcomes of the programme followed by the plans for future development of the programme in Section 4.

Introduction A 2012 report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs identified a shortfall in Ireland of high–level ICT Honours Bachelor Degree graduates at level 8 and above. Recent years have seen a shift in the ICT sector in Ireland from hardware toward software causing a move in skills requirements towards higher-level skills. Graduates are now competing for higher skilled jobs in the ICT sector (Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, 2012). This lack of skilled ICT graduates may be explained by the high attrition rates on ICT programmes. The recent report on progression in Higher Education in Ireland shows a 27% rate of non-presence in the area of computer science (Chantler et Al, 2010). While extensive research has been carried out to identify factors affecting student retention (Kuh et al, 2007, Braxton, 2006), this high attrition rate, coupled with the increasing requirement for highly skilled ICT graduates is a cause for great concern. Braxton 2006 identifies Student Course Learning as a fundamental contributor to success in higher education encompassing 6 key areas including: academic attainment, acquisition of general education, development of academic confidence, development of cognitive skills and intellectual disciplines, occupational attainment and preparation for adulthood and citizenship. In September 2012, first year computing students at National College of Ireland (NCI) participated in a week-long induction programme aimed at using early development of some of these areas in order to improve student engagement.

29


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: The Fresher Agenda – Improving retention through early student engagement

1.

The Fresher Agenda Induction Programme

The induction programme had two key aims: • Integrating new students into the School of Computing, giving them a sense of identity as Computing students • Kick starting a series of transferable skills SWAT (Study Weapons and Tactics) workshops The key focus of the programme was a week-long Problem Based Learning (PBL) project supported by faculty through transferable skills workshops. Here, students competed in teams to plan a Fresher’s Week event for first year students in conjunction with the Students’ Union. This activity was further supported by interactive introductory lectures, career talks and past project presentations. The week culminated in Dragons Den style presentations of the three finalist ideas where the winning team was chosen and prizes were awarded.

2.1 PBL Project The main focus of the week for students was a Problem Based Learning (PBL) project where students worked in teams to solve a real world problem. The project itself was supported through a series of workshops and project sessions. These workshops were the first of a series that ran throughout the entire first semester named SWAT (Study Weapons and Tactics) workshops which focussed on building students research, numeracy, problem solving and communication skills. Each project team was required to research and propose an event and to present their chosen event using a conference style poster which was displayed during the career talks and table quiz on the Wednesday afternoon. Each team then voted for the best event and the top 5 teams were given the opportunity to present their ideas to all students and a “Dragons Den” panel made up of the Vice President of NCI, Dean of School of Computing and a representative of the NCI students union. Following the presentations, the winning team was announced who then went on the run their event in conjunction with the students union in week 3.

2.2 SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) Sessions The time for SWAT sessions was borrowed from tutorial time scheduled on the official timetable for each programme for week 1 of the semester. The motivation for this was to capitalise on all of the tutorial time scheduled for students in the first week as much of this time can often be wasted in week 1. A typical timetable for one of the programmes is outlined in Table 1. HCC1 Day/Time

9am

10am

11am

12pm

Mon

Project Session 1

SWAT: Research

 

Lecture: Intro. To Maths

Tues

Lecture: xhtml & Web Design

SWAT: Problem Solving

 

SWAT: Numeracy

Project Session 2

Wed

SWAT: Communication

Lecture: PPD

Portal Quiz

 

Poster Pres. & Career Talks

Thurs

Lecture: Intro. To Programming

 

Final Presentations & Judging

Project Session 4

Lecture: Intro. To Computing

1pm

2pm  

3pm

4pm

 

 

Project Session 3

 

Quiz

 

Table 1: Fresher Agenda Timetable – Higher Certificate in Computing

A key focus for the SWAT workshops was that students were introduced to some of the transferable skills required at third level in a relaxed and informal manner. Each workshop required students to engage in either a group or individual activity and to submit some form of deliverable at the end of the session. This usually involved submitting work via Moodle, the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) used at NCI. The purpose of this was threefold; it enabled students to interact with Moodle in a relaxed environment when the deliverables were not tied to any formal assessment, it ensured that teams stayed on track to complete the project, and it set a precedent for standard of work and effort required when participating in weekly tutorials.

2.3 Interactive Introductory Lectures In addition to the overarching project and SWAT sessions, introductory lectures ran as normal and aimed to clearly set out the effort and standard required for success in the module in addition to outlining the role that each module plays in the overall programme and highlighting the importance of each individual module. Past project presentations were also incorporated into introductory lectures, where appropriate, in order to clearly demonstrate the expected output of the module.

30


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: The Fresher Agenda – Improving retention through early student engagement

2.3 Career Talks On the Wednesday afternoon once the project work had been completed, career talks were given by guest speakers to emphasise the importance of key modules for success in Computing as well as highlighting a number of careers available to students upon successful completion of their chosen programme. These talks coincided with a table quiz which gave students the opportunity to interact across all programmes in the school. Faculty and tutors also took part in this activity enabling students to get to know their lecturers in a less formal setting.

3. Findings More than two hundred first year students participated in the induction programme and it is expected that the true effects of the programme would be evident in future retention rates and student success and engagement. Unfortunately, this is not something that can be immediately assessed. It is possible at this point however to examine the short-term impact that the programme may have had on students. On a very basic level, the work carried out by the teams as evidenced by the conference style posters and final presentations is a great achievement for first year students in week one of their programmes. Further to that, student feedback from the post induction surveys echoed a common sentiment that students valued the opportunity provided by the programme to form new friendships and learn about the School of Computing processes. When asked what they liked about the programme typical responses included comments such as “It gives you a guide to how NCI works and the processes for accessing resources in the college” and, “I like the fact we had to form groups and get to know each other”. As previously mentioned, students were surveyed both before and after the induction programme. In order to assess the student’s awareness of the school processes and lecturers’ expectations, the students were asked to rate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the statement “I know what is expected of me as a student of the School of Computing”. This question was posed both before and after the programme. The results outlined in Figure 1 illustrate that following the induction programme, students had a better understanding of what is expected of a student in the School of Computing. Strongly Disagree 1% Disagree 6%

Strongly Agree 18%

Strongly Disagree 1% Disagree 1%

Neither 15% Neither 21%

Strongly Agree 38%

Agree 45%

Agree 54%

Pre-Induction

Post-Induction

These results are further supported by answers given by students when asked, “Do you feel that you have benefitted from the induction programme?” Some of these answers are outlined below. “Yes, it has made me realise what I’ll be doing for the next semester and what is involved in the course. It also had social benefits to meet people in my class instead of starting straight away” “It helped me integrate with others as well as working within a team.” “Yes I was less nervous starting the course because of it” Another statement which students were asked to rate both pre and post induction was “I have all the information that I need to be a successful student in the School of Computing”.

31


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: The Fresher Agenda – Improving retention through early student engagement

Figure 2

The results of this, as illustrated in the Figure 2, indicate that students felt more prepared for life as a computing student following the induction programme. This is further supported by these student answers: “Yes (I have benefitted from the programme), because I have been shown things that I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for the induction programme for example using Moodle. It also gave me a chance to get familiar with my surroundings and meet new members of my class before getting down to work. ” “I have become comfortable navigating ‘myncistudent’ portal and have also gained confidence expressing my ideas to a group.” It is also important to note that while feedback from the majority of students was positive and reinforced the motivation behind the programme, there was a common message from mature students on the programme regarding the PBL project and the focus of the week. While they did appreciate the value of such activities for school leavers, a number of mature students explained that they would rather have focussed on the transferable skills that one might need to further develop when not entering third level straight from school. When asked if they had benefitted from the programme, one mature student commented “I have to some degree in the sense that I understand the dynamics and structure of the college, program and tutors a little better. However I would have preferred to spend more time in active class than working on the project assignment. In saying that it was enjoyable and it is a great excercise in team work for new students”. This comment is typical of the comments made by mature students in the feedback survey.

4. Conclusions & Further Research It is evident from early results that the induction programme had a positive impact on the first year student experience for the majority of students and we would hope to see a further impact on student retention and engagement in the future. One of the programmes key aims was to integrate new students into the School of Computing and to give them a sense of identity as Computing students. Results would indicate that this was achieved to a great extent for most students by giving them the opportunity to meet other Computing students and learn about the School in a relaxed environment. The other key aim of the programme was to improve students research skills, numeracy, communication and problem solving. The success of this was evident in the project submissions and presentations by the groups. This was the first programme of its kind run at NCI and now that its potential has been seen it will continue to run for students in the School of Computing going forward. Of course, the success of programmes such as this often depends on their ability to adapt and evolve in accordance with the student and their needs. To that end, comments of mature students will be taken on board and modifications will be made going forward to improve mature student engagement. There are no doubts that there are difficulties in third level ICT programmes that impact negatively on student engagement and retention and it is hoped that this programme has gone at least some of the way toward identifying and resolving just some of them.

32


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: The Fresher Agenda â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Improving retention through early student engagement

References Braxton, J.M. (2006, June). Faculty professional choices in teaching that foster student success. Washington, DC. National Postsecondary Education Cooperative Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Buckley, J., Bridges, B., & Hayek, J. C. (2007). Piecing together the student success puzzle: Research, propositions, and recommendations. ASHE Higher Education Report, 32(5). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Chantler, D., Patterson, D., Mooney, O. and Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Connor, M. (2010) A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education. [report] Dublin: Higher Education Authority, p.30. Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (2012) A study by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in FAS for the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. National Skills Bulletin 2012. [report] FAS.

33


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: A New Student Guide to Assignment Writing

Scaffolding Student Learning in Higher Education A New Student Guide to Assignment Writing Ann Heelan, AHEAD (Association for Higher Education and Disability) & Helen Carroll, Dublin Institute of Technology There is now a greater diversity of student in higher education including students with different learning styles, students who are mature, students with disabilities (who make up to 4% of the student population) and international students (who can make up to 15% of the student population). Many of these students struggle in making the transition into an academic learning based environment and according to research by Professor Liz Thomas1 this can lead to a sense of exclusion with at least 33% of students think of dropping out in the first term. The question facing educational institutions is how to support them to manage the academic demands independently and to maximise their success? Most students according to Cottrell2, do not make the transition to higher education with “fully Hatched” study skills and they are constantly trying to keep up with the demands of their course. Academic skills such as conducting research, analysing data, writing, reasoning, structuring, arguing and referencing are not specifically taught nor are they identified as learning outcomes within the curriculum and many academic staff assume that the student will implicitly learn these skills. But in reality, many students, especially students with different learning needs, mature students or international students do not pick up these skills so easily and are consequently disadvantaged in the performance of their work. Professor Liz Thomas of Edge Hill University has established that the top three reasons for students quitting higher education courses are • Academic issues. • Feelings of isolation and/or not fitting in. • Concern about achieving future aspirations. There is a direct correlation between academic success and the extent to which the student feels they belong in the college and to some degree this depends on how well they can cope with the demands of their course, in particular academic demands. A student who is unable to cope becomes stressed which according to Hans Selye who coined the term stress, means an inadequate response to any demand3. How stressed the student becomes can depend on their perception of their personal capacity to deal with the problem. If engagement and academic success are inter-dependent then greater emphasis needs to be given to building the student capacity to acquire and build key academic skills. According to education psychologists such as Bruner4, learning is an active learning process which involves practice as well as reflecting on what the teacher’s role is in terms of designing the learning task and support the learning process. Bruner coined the phrase scaffolding which in education involves helpful, structured steps to support a learner to reach a specific goal. Francis Bacon wrote in the 50’s “neither hands, nor intellect alone will serve you much; tools and aids perfect all”. Professor Guy Claxman, of University of Winchester5 advocates that academic writing is a skill like any other skill, a plumber, a carpenter and must be practiced as an apprenticeship so that the student can develop the habits of mind of a scholar. This would suggest that specifically teaching academic skills learning within mainstream curricula would greatly enhance student capacity to manage the academic demands of higher education. Mastering the skill of good academic writing is absolutely critical to gaining good grades, it is a core skill, yet it is not taught as part of the course, so students are not clear about how to actually do it! and it is with this in mind that AHEAD has produced a toolkit for academic writing. In association with Helen Carroll, a study support expert working in higher education AHEAD designed and published a Student Guide to Essay Writing called, A Guide to Writing Assignments. It is designed for students with a disability or dyslexia starting in higher education, who need to learn how to write assignments to academic standards. This Student Guide to Assignment Writing is a step by step guide to ‘building’ the assignment, guaranteed to improve your writing skills and will work for all students. 1 2 3 4 5

34

Professor Liz Thomas, Building student engagement and belonging in higher education at a time of change, Edge Hill University, CSSI conference , 2013 Cottrell, s, The Study skills Handbook, Palgrave Mcmillan, 2003 The Reselience Programme, Loren Duffy, AHEAD 2011 Bruner, Process of Learning 1986 Claxman, G, Higher education as epistemic apprenticeship, NAIRTL, Galway 2011


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: Scaffolding Student Learning in Higher Education

This guide provides the student with scaffolding to improve their academic writing skills. During the course of a college career, we imagine they will keep the booklet and use it throughout the course. It is small (A5 size) and will easily fit into a bag, and will be a great template for every assignment you do. One student said “I made it clear what I had to do. I felt much more confident when I followed the structure, it broke it down” another said that “the booklet helped me with the referencing and I got 10% more marks, I was thrilled.” The words on the booklet cover say: YOU’RE ACTUALLY A GOOD WRITER...IT’S JUST THAT NOBODY TOLD YOU YET. It is time to find out, and enjoy your writing skills! For a copy of the booklet go to www.ahead.ie or e.mail ahead@ahead.ie

35


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: EUROSTUDENT and the Social Dimension of European Higher Education

EUROSTUDENT and the Social Dimension of European Higher Education – looking at the total student experience from a European perspective Dr Dominic Orr, HIS-Institute for Research on Higher Education

“Without question, higher education must change. For one thing, it must become responsive to the needs of a much wider range of students than ever before. “ Jamie P. Merisotis, Lumina Foundation 2012

1) The challenge Reforms continue to embrace most higher education systems of the world and especially the 47 signatory states of the Bologna Process at the present. In the period 2000 to 2009 European higher education has seen a growth in the total number of students of around one third and a parallel average increase in total spending on higher education in relation to a country’s economic productivity (GDP) of around one quarter. This impressive dynamic has turned the attention of policy-makers and higher education leaders to the questions of efficiency, effectiveness and equity of higher education provision. This means that they are interested in value for money, the impact of higher education and the question of impact on whom? Different countries have focused to a varying extent on these three issues, but they are evident in most policy documents and strategy papers. Those of us interested in the welfare of students would argue that an adequate level of effectiveness and efficiency can only be achieved through understanding the student body better and by making efforts to ensure that all students benefit fully from the higher education experience irrespective of their personal circumstances. The issue is becoming all the more relevant, the more diverse the student body gets – and growth in higher education provision coupled with an ageing society is leading to a diverse student body. Recognition of this trend has led policy-makers involved in the Bologna Process to call for greater attention to what they term the “social dimension” of higher education. The “social dimension” entails looking at various stages of the education system and adopting measures, which can help individuals to overcome any barriers or disincentives to access, participate in, and complete higher education study. The goal is for the share of people participating in higher education to reflect the diversity of the general population. This was most clearly defined for the Bologna Process in the London Communiqué of 2007, having first been expressed in the Prague Communiqué of 2001. The London Communiqué states: “We share the societal aspiration that the student body entering, participating in and completing higher education at all levels should reflect the diversity of our populations. We reaffirm the importance of students being able to complete their studies without obstacles related to their social and economic background. We therefore continue our efforts to provide adequate student services, create more flexible learning pathways into and within higher education, and to widen participation at all levels on the basis of equal opportunity.” This is a long-standing goal of modern higher education systems, which aims to assure that educational success is detached from a person’s origins. It is repeated in the most recent Bucharest Communiqué of 2012 (p.1). The aim can be morally argued from the standpoint of Rawls’ argument for social justice.1 There is also an effectiveness argument for improving the participation and study conditions of certain groups of students, which was also made in the Leuven Communiqué of 2009. It argues that available talent in Europe should be “maximised” to assure the realisation of a Europe of knowledge: “In the decade up to 2020 European higher education has a vital contribution to make in realising a Europe of knowledge that is highly creative and innovative. Faced with the challenge of an ageing population Europe can only succeed in this endeavour if it maximises the talents and capacities of all its citizens and fully engages in lifelong learning as well as in widening participation in higher education.” This argument has been further emphasised in the Bucharest Communiqué of 2012 with reference to the challenges leading on from the economic and financial crisis (p.1). These two arguments – social justice and effectiveness for a Europe of knowledge – provide the basis for efforts on the part of policy-makers at national and regional level, and leaders and practitioners in educational institutions to improve the social dimension of higher education. Their work 1 Rawls, J. (1971): A theory of justice. Harvard University Press.

36


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: EUROSTUDENT and the Social Dimension of European Higher Education

is founded on the recognition that a confluence of three factors tend to determine educational success: student ability, material and immaterial (e.g. social and cultural) resources and opportunity. In particular, non-academic factors such as social background and aspiration, and study framework conditions (e.g. balance between work and studies) affect participation and success in higher education. Indeed, visible student ability may have been affected by a person’s material and immaterial resources at a previous (e.g. secondary) educational level. However, this is not simply a European agenda. In a slightly different turn of phrase, the president of the influential Lumina Foundation in the USA has expressed the challenge as follows:2 “Without question, higher education must change. For one thing, it must become responsive to the needs of a much wider range of students than ever before. The 21st century student population is dizzyingly diverse — racially, ethnically, socially, economically, and in terms of age and family situation. Clearly, no one-sizefits-all system will work for these students, and it won’t serve us as a nation. So the higher-ed system must be retooled and redesigned to meet the needs of all types of students because we need these 21st century students to succeed — without delay and in far greater numbers. In other words, higher education must become much more productive — educating many more people without increasing costs, and without compromising the quality of the credentials that students earn.”

2) One data source Since so many countries are confronted with the same or similar challenges, there is a strong argument for looking at the social dimension in higher education from a comparative perspective. This would give users the opportunity to compare and contrast knowledge and experience of their own system with that of other countries and regions. The project EUROSTUDENT works on providing such a data set, which covers the social and economic conditions of studying in Europe. The most recent report comes from the fourth round of this study, which is carried out on a three-year cycle (Orr et al. 2011), with the next study planned for release in 2015. The full set of Eurostudent data covers the topics of demographics, including social background; access routes; study programs; accommodation, funding, and living costs; time use and employment during studies; and temporary mobility during studies. In sum, the Eurostudent data set provides a strong source of data on important aspects of student life in Europe within a comparative framework (Clancy, 2010, p.93). Recognition of the uniqueness of this data set has led the Eurostudent project to be named an official data collector in the Bologna Process, along with the European agencies, Eurostat and Eurydice (Bucharest Communiqué 2012).

Assessment and future plans

Transition into higher education

Social make-up

Student Mobility

Characteristics of student populations

Types and modes of study

Housing Housing situation expenses

Students’ expenses

Time budget Students’ resources

Figure 1. The EUROSTUDENT data set 2

Merisotis, J. P. (2012). Message from the president. Online under: http://www.luminafoundation.org/state_work/message_from_our_president/

37


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: EUROSTUDENT and the Social Dimension of European Higher Education

At the present, the national studies are being carried out, which will subsequently be combined to create the newest comparative data set. The kinds of challenges students are confronted with, especially in the context of the financial crisis, were echoed in the open comment boxes at the end of the recent Irish survey. Students stated for instance:3 “Currently it is difficult to be a student in Ireland. The financial struggle that every student is currently experiencing makes it hard to remain a student. The majority of students are finding it hard to pay for transport to and from college.” (anonymous comment to Irish Eurostudent survey 2013) “Many mature students are trying to battle childcare costs/opening times etc. just to make it to lectures and there is little time to study at home with children and little money to allocate to nice treats in shopping or days out, thus making college very stressful from the perspective of trying to get work done and also trying to be a good parent.” (anonymous comment to Irish Eurostudent survey 2013) The EUROSTUDENT study in 2015 will be able to provide data and some contextual analyses on such issues, especially as it will provide descriptions of the social and economic conditions of very different types of students – from regular under 24 year old Bachelors, to students who entered higher education later in life and who work regularly alongside their studies. Some of the data will be available in early analyses on the project website from spring 2014 in the form of Intelligence Briefs.4

3) Initiatives to improve the social dimension of higher education Reviewing the EUROSTUDENT studies, but also reports from Eurydice (e.g. Eurydice 2012), it is possible to compare and contrast the developments in different countries and to see some of the challenges which emerge from efforts to improve the social dimension. The social dimension is multifaceted and improvements in some areas can lead to new challenges in others. For this paper, ten specific challenges have been compiled in three areas: access to higher education, study conditions and successful completion of studies – see Figure 2.

Access

Study conditions

Successful completion

Challenges 1. 2.

3.

4.

Facilitate participation in HE Facilitate participation in the best courses at the best colleges / universities Facilitate participation in supplementary experiences, esp. mobility programmes Support prospective students in making the ‘right’ choices

1. 2.

3.

4.

5.

Flexible provision for variable study intensity Assure the commitment of new types of students to their programmes Provide teaching and learning according to new pedagogical concepts Provide incentives for colleges / universities to retain students and increase completion rates Provide counselling and advice during study period

1.

Facilitate the transition of graduates to the labour market

Figure 2 10 challenges for equitable higher education provision

In terms of access, the first question is: How to facilitate access to higher education for underrepresented groups? The increase of policies to widen participation, the increasing general demand for study places and efforts to increase the effectiveness of university and college courses are all – concurrently – leading to the introduction of new methods for selecting prospective students. In this, the question is how to assure that routes through the education system are determined by (innate) ability and not by performance in decisive examinations? ‘Second chance’ routes are increasingly being provided, both because the regular selection procedures are often (unintentionally) socially-biased and because there must be opportunities for adults to enter higher education later in life. 3 It should be emphasised that these comments are not necessarily representative of the student body in Ireland nor do they highlight specific problems in Irish higher education. They are chosen to be illustrative of the types of challenges confronting students alongside their studies. 4 See current Intelligence Briefs on: http://www.eurostudent.eu/results/reports

38


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: EUROSTUDENT and the Social Dimension of European Higher Education

However, how do we assure that access to higher education also entails equity of opportunities within higher education? The increasing stratification of higher education in many countries may lead to certain groups of students entering higher education institutions, which offer reduced opportunities in terms of quality, subjects covered and opportunities for further studies at Masters level or studying for periods abroad.5 As Simon Marginson has stated in the context of this development, the equity question moves from being ‘access or not?’ to ‘access to what?’ (Marginson 2004). For this reason, access to higher education is just the first step of at least four steps in Figure 2 for achieving more equitable higher education participation. In terms of study conditions and study provision, the real challenge is to offer flexible provision whilst assuring quality, commitment of students and the retention and support of students. The opportunity for students to vary the intensity of their studies according to their personal circumstances is important for the achievement of an adequate match between students and the organisation of provision (Orr 2012). Many countries are in the process of implementing or planning more flexible provision in this manner. However, what changes to pedagogy are necessary? For instance, what is the right balance between self-directed learning and attending lectures and seminars at the university or college? Certainly, the commitment of the student to the process is necessary. Norwegian higher education, which offers a relatively flexible provision, expects some students to sign learning agreements to assure this commitment (Børsheim 2012). The development of such new pedagogical frameworks is likely to be expensive and require different types of support for different types of students in universities or colleges. It is, therefore, necessary that the incentive structure under which universities and colleges are financed adequately reflects this need. For instance, focusing institutional funding on graduation rates may encourage universities and colleges to be more selective at entry level, in order to recruit as many ‘low maintenance’ students as possible. A better practice, adopted in a number of countries, is to provide a premium for recruited students from certain (underrepresented) backgrounds. It is also important to consider the responses to this challenge at each of the academic levels differently, i.e. students may need more support at Bachelor level and less at Masters level. The final challenge is to assure the successful transition of graduates educated within the higher education system into the labour market (Eurydice 2012, p.103f.). This is a wider definition of successful completion. It means that it is not a matter of assuring graduation, but also of facilitating the next step. This is particularly important in countries experiencing dynamic shifts within their higher education system, which may not be understood or adequately anticipated in the labour market, e.g. expansions in the number of graduates or changes in the profile of graduates leaving higher education. This, therefore, requires a closer nexus between higher education and the business world.

4) The information gap In many of these areas first policy provisions are being made and initiatives are being executed at national and institutional level. It is the task of both policy makers and researchers to monitor and evaluate the implementation of policy and the execution of these initiatives in order to review and improve their effectiveness. In Europe we have the opportunity to learn from the experiences within each of the EU member states and within the Bologna Process. However, there is often an information gap on what is actually being implemented. To this aim, a new project entitled Peer Learning Initiative for the Social Dimension has set up a database in collaboration with the Bologna Follow-Up Group. It will spend the next few years encouraging policy makers, higher education leaders and stakeholders to submit information on best practices for the improvement in the social dimension. The information is being presented in a systematic manner on a dedicated website in the hope to encourage peer learning. Supporting and facilitating the success of students is a constitutive role of higher education, even when this is not always stated as an explicit goal. Those of us interested in supporting this objective should make sure that good practices are spread widely in order to improve the social dimension of higher education and to realise an effective and equitable higher education system in the future.

5 Many studies, including EUROSTUDENT, have shown that the participation in study-related periods abroad is also socially biased. See Orr/Haaristo/Little (2011).

39


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience SUPPORT, RETENTION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE: EUROSTUDENT and the Social Dimension of European Higher Education

References Børsheim, A. (2012): Quality challenges in flexible professional education. NOKUT. Online under: www.nokut.no/Documents/NOKUT/Artikkelbibliotek/Kunnskapsbasen/Rapporter/UA%202012/B%C3%B8rsheim_ Astrid_Kvalitetsutfordringer_i_fleksibel_profesjonsutdanning_2012-3.pdf Clancy, P. (2010): Measuring access and equity from a comparative perspective. In H. Eggins (Ed.), Access and equity: Comparative perspectives (pp.69–102). Boston: Sense Publishers. Eurydice (2012): The European Higher Education Area in 2012: Bologna Process Implementation Report. Brussels: EACEA. Marginson, S. (2004): Competition and Markets in Higher Education: a ‘glonacal’ analysis. In: Policy Futures in Education, 2(2), 175-244. Orr, D. / Hovdhaugen, E. (in press): ‘Second chance’ routes into higher education: Sweden, Norway and Germany compared. In: International Journal of Lifelong Education. Orr, D. (2012): Widening Access to Higher Education – What Can EUROSTUDENT Say About the New Challenges Emerging for Teaching and Learning? In: Scott, P. / Curaj, A.; / Vlăsceanu, L. / Wilson, L.: European Higher Education at the crossroads: between the Bologna Process and national reforms. Berlin: Springer. Orr, D. / Haaristo, H.S. / Little, B. (2011): Short-term mobility and mobility obstacles. Online under: http://www.eurostudent.eu/download_files/IB_Short_term_mobility_091211.pdf Orr, D. / Gwosć, C. / Netz, N. (2011): Social and Economic Conditions of Student Life in Europe: Synopsis of Indicators: Final Report: Eurostudent IV 2008-2011. W. Bertelsmann. Online under: http://www.eurostudent.eu/download_files/documents/EIV_Synopsis_of_Indicators.pdf Rawls, J. (1971): A theory of justice. Harvard: Harvard University Press. For more information on the Bologna Process, the working groups and associated publications, see: www.ehea.info

40


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Holistic Approaches to Health Maintenance in the B.Sc. Pharmacy Degree at Trinity College

MENTAL HEALTH Student Mental Health Report: an integrated student model

42

Uplift to Positive Mental Health, University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

45

Dr Philomena Renner, University of Sydney

Diarmaid Ring, Claire Dunne, Mary Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Grady, Aimie Brennan, Denis Staunton, University College Cork

41


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Student Mental Health Report: an Integrated Student Model

Student Mental Health Report: an Integrated Student Model Dr Philomena Renner, University of Sydney

Abstract Among university students, mental health problems and psychological distress have significant impacts on student wellbeing, resulting in widespread consequences, such as difficulties in managing university life, interference with academic performance and impacts on social engagement. A review of extant research in the university setting indicates that across University environments internationally, rates of mental health distress or disorder (variously defined) range from 15% to 52%. This paper presented original research on the role of distress, wellbeing, and flexibility in a university sample. In 2012, a student mental health survey was conduced after the first four weeks of Semester 1 of the University year. The results suggested a spectrum of struggle with personal adjustment and a proportion of students who may be either at high risk of, or currently meeting, mental illness diagnostic levels. It was concluded that given that nearly half (49.6%) of the students surveyed reported high (28.5%) to very high (21.1%) levels of psychological distress it was important to ensure students had access to best practice interventions involving therapeutic models that would be applicable across diagnoses. Furthermore, it was concluded that given that 8% of students sampled reported “languishing” mental health (elsewhere associated with risk of academic impairment and suicide), that outreach programs within Faculties and within the student groups were indicated. Interventions that highlight outreach programs are outlined in this paper. In particular we refer to interventions focusing on training graduate competencies across the spectrum of cognitive, psychological and social functioning (Lippman, Atienza, Rivers, Keith, 2008) to promote both sustainable academic achievement and emotional health.

Introduction In a university setting, mental health problems and psychological distress impact significantly on students’ abilities to manage university life, perform to academic potential and to engage with the social and cultural life of the university. From the point of view of public health, compromise to mental health in early adulthood has implications for alcohol and substance abuse, academic success, future employment and relationships (Eisenberg, Gollust, Golberstein, Hefner, 2007). The scale of concern about compromised student wellbeing becomes clearer with reports that students are arriving at University with pre-existing problems. For example, Pryor, Eagan, Blake, Hurtado, Berdan, Case, (2012) report that 30.4 % of pre-university entry students report feeling overwhelmed in high school. It appears that students who feel overwhelmed in high school might be on the path to continue feeling overwhelmed in college. A review of extant research in the university setting indicates that across University environments internationally, rates of mental health distress or disorder (variously defined) range from 15% to 52%. In Australia for example, Leahy, Peterson, Wilson, Newbury, Tonkin & Turnbull (2010) found that 48% of tertiary students reported high psychological distress on the K10. Similarly, Stallman’s (2010) results showed that 83.9% of university students reported elevated distress with 19.2% reporting very high levels of distress. Zivin, Eisenberg, Gollust & Golberstein (2009) reported that mental disorders were prevalent and persistent in a student population and stated that: Preventing, detecting and treating mental disorders among college students are promising avenues for addressing the population burden of early-onset mental disorders. In an effort to inform student wellbeing initiatives for our university population, our service (Counselling and Psychological Services, CAPS) undertook a Mental Health Survey to provide information on extant levels of student distress, mental health and psychological flexibility.

Mental Health survey The aims of the Mental Health Survey were three-fold: • To investigate mental health status and psychological wellbeing of undergraduate and postgraduate students at the instiution. • To examine the association between psychological distress and other student characteristics. • To explore psychological flexibility in the student population and its relationship with measures of psychological distress and wellbeing. 42


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Student Mental Health Report: an Integrated Student Model

The survey was conducted over four days in Week 5 of Semester One, 2012. Measures used were: Demographics and Background Questionnaire; AUDIT Consumption Questions (AUDIT-C; Bush et al., 1998); Kessler-10 Psychological Distress Scale (K-10; Kessler et al 2003); a measure of subjective well-being, the Mental Health Continuum Short Form (MHC-SF; Keyes, 2005); and a measure tapping psychological flexibility, the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ-II; Bond et al., 2011). All enrolled undergraduate and postgraduate students at The University were eligible to participate in the survey. A total of 4,109 undergraduate and postgraduate students across faculties participated. After exclusion of responses with considerable missing data the final sample included 3,711 students, representing a participation rate of 7.4% of the total University student population.

Results Students in this sample reported high rates of psychological distress with 28.5% of respondents classified as falling into the high distress category and 21.1% in the very high distress category as assessed by the K10. In terms of subjective wellbeing, the majority of respondents reported ‘moderate’ levels of mental health with 36.1% reporting ‘flourishing’ mental health and 8% were coded as falling within the category of ‘languishing’ mental health. Both psychological distress and subjective well-being measures correlated with scores of psychological flexibility. With regard to help seeking, results indicated that respondents were most likely to turn to friends and family members for support when and if they experience emotional difficulties. Large proportions also search for information on the Internet, while nearly one fifth of respondents were willing to seek help from psychological services and healthcare professionals. We note that this self-selected sample represents 7.4% of the student population and generalisation of the results may have limitations.

Implications From the perspective of a specific focus on student mental health problems, the University Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides stepped care, evidence-based psychological and mental health interventions. Our findings regarding levels of distress underscore the importance of such core services. However to reach the potential numbers of students experiencing difficulties, we propose that interventions that address both the individual and their particular environmental context i.e. academic, are also required. Moreover, programs that are seen by students and the university community to be building strengths (enhancing performance) rather than focusing on impairment may also increase student and teacher engagement in building the community’s psychological and cognitive capacities and also function to reduce help-seeking reluctance. To this end CAPS has begun a comprehensive program called ‘Thriving Together’ which focus on both personal and academic selfregulation resources. Targeting self-regulation and competency skills, we have combined the idea of graduate cognitive, psychological and social competencies (Lippman, Atienza, Rivers, Keith, 2008) with the model of the ‘Big 5’ personality traits (McCrae, R., & Costa, P.T., 1997). This framework in turn informs the key skills to target in our suite of programmes. Of the ‘Big 5’ we propose targeting the personality trait of ‘negative affectivity’ given that for surveyed students there was an association between levels of psychological distress and compromised academic functioning. The dimension of ‘conscientiousness’ is also emphasised because of its association with academic achievement (O’Connor & Paunonen, 2007). At its extreme, ‘conscientiousness’ is also associated with perfectionism and psychological inflexibility. Thus, ‘Thriving Together’ includes a variety of workshops (embedded where possible in the Faculty teaching schedule) that promote sustainable and self-regulated achievement. Using an acceptance and commitment based framework the workshops teach ‘conscientiousness’ skills that focus on flexibility rather than perfectionism, academic values work and mindfulness to promote self regulated learner processes (Zimmerman, 2002) and goal setting, self-efficacy and effort regulation (Richardson, Abraham and Bond, 2012). Given the data in the survey indicating use of the internet as sources of information, we are also implementing a Personal Development Plan (PDP) e-initiative that encourages students to assess their strength and limitations across academic and personal competencies. The PDP self-assessment links to resource pages that can assist students with corrective or improved performance strategies. As our surveyed students highlighted the importance of peers and families as sources of support, we are placing increasing emphasis on training peers as mental health student advocates (Morse, 2013) and in resourcing parents with relevant information to promote their functioning as knowledgeable sources of support for students. 43


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Student Mental Health Report: an Integrated Student Model

At a Faculty/teaching level ‘Thriving Together’ offers staff professional development workshops about the relevance of personality traits and self-regulated learner skills to student well-being and performance. We also offer brief sessions introducing mindfulness skills as self-care for personal wellbeing and skills to enhance staff confidence and effectiveness in working with and supporting distressed students.

Biography Philomena Renner holds a PhD from Wollongong University NSW Australia. She spent most of her career working in public and private mental health. She has worked at the University of Sydney for 6 years and is the Head of Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

References Bond, F. W., Hayes, S. C., Baer, R. A., Carpenter, K. M., Guenole, N., Orcutt, H. K., Waltz, T., & Zettle, R. D. (2011). Preliminary psychometric properties of the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire - II: A revised measure of psychological flexibility and experiential avoidance. Behavior Therapy, 42, 676-688. Bush, K., Kivlahan, D.R., McDonell, M.B., Fihn, S.D., & Bradley, K.A. (1998). The AUDIT alcohol consumption questionnaire (AUDIT-C): An effective brief screening test for problem drinking. Archives of Internal Medicine, 158, 17891795. Eisenberg, D., Gallus, S.  E., Golberstein, E., Hefner, J.L  (2007) Prevalence and correlates of   depression, anxiety, and suicidality among university students.  American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77, 534–542. Kessler, R.C, Barker, P.R, Colpe, L.J, et al. (2003). Screening for serious mental illness in the general population, Archives of General Psychiatry, 60, 184-189. Keyes, C.L.M. (2005). The subjective well-being of America’s youth: Toward a comprehensive assessment. Adolescent and Family Health, 4, 3–11. Leahy, C.M., Peterson, R.F., Wilson, K.G., Newbury, J.W., Tonkin, A.L., & Turnbull, D (2010) Distress levels and selfreported treatment rates for medicine, law, psychology and mechanical engineering tertiary students: cross-sectional study. Aust NZ J Psychiatry 44, 608-615 Lippman, L., Atienza,A., Rivers, A., & Keith, J. (2008) A Developmental Perspective on College and Workplace Readiness. Child Trends http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2008_09_15_FR-ReadinessReport.pdf McCrae, R., & Costa, P.T (1997) Personality trait structure as a human universal. American Psychologist, 52, 509-516 Morse, C. (2013) Teaching Mindfulness and Acceptance within College Communities to enhance peer support. In Pistorello, J. (Ed) Mindfulness and Acceptance for Counselling College Students, p 203-222, CA, New Harbinger O’Connor, M.C., Paunonen, S.V (2007) Big Five personality predictors of post-secondary academic performance. Personality and Individual Differences 43, 971-990 Pryor, J.H., Eagan, K., Palucki Blake, Hurtado, S., Berdan, J. & Case, M.H. (2012). The American freshman: National norms fall 2012. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA. Richardson, M., Abraham, C., & Bond, R., (2012) Psychological correlates of University students’ academic performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, vol. 138, No. 2, 353-387 Stallman, H.M. (2010). Psychological distress in university students: A comparison with general population data. Australian Psychologist, 45, 249-257. Zimmerman, B. J., (2002) Becoming a self-regulated learner: an overview. Theory into Practice, Vol 41, No 2, Spring 2002, 64-70 Zivin, K., Eisenberg, D., Gollust, S.E., & Golberstein, E. (2009). Persistence of mental health problems and needs in a college student population. Journal of Affective Disorders, 117, 180-185

44


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Uplift to Positive Mental Health University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

Uplift to Positive Mental Health University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme Diarmaid Ring, Claire Dunne, Mary O’Grady, Aimie Brennan, Denis Staunton, University College Cork “No one knows how well the shoe fits than the person who wears it.” Chinese Proverb

Abstract University College Cork (UCC) Uplift to Positive Mental Health Programme supports students who experience mental health challenges in the context of higher education. Uplift was designed to train students who experience mental health challenges to be available to support fellow students who experience similar challenges. The unique nature of the programme is its emphasis on students helping students to achieve positive mental wellbeing. The UpLift Programme is a collaborative project between University College Cork (UCC) Disability Support Service and Student Counselling and Development, uLink Peer Support Programme. It is a partnership approach which focuses on the unique contribution that service user and service professional can make in the support of students with mental health challenges in the context of higher education. This paper describes the Uplift to Positive Mental Health Programme in its Pilot Year and Year One. The process of recruitment of mentors and mentees involved in both years is outlined as is the training and support provided to mentors. A description of the evaluation process of the programme is included along with a detailed account of the findings and impact of the programme on mentors and mentees.

Introduction While peer-led support for students with mental health difficulties is a unique principle, the benefits of peer mentoring are widely researched and verified. Peer mentoring is a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility and mutual agreement of what is helpful. It is about understanding another’s situation empathically through the shared experience (Mead, Hilton & Curtis, 2001). In the context of third level education, peer mentoring provides positive opportunities for students to gain immediate friendships with peers, to access ‘insider’ knowledge of life as a student and to ease anxieties surrounding transition to third level. Studies have shown that peer mentoring clearly demonstrates the importance of peer relationships for students when coping with college life. Students at-risk of dropping out of college seek help and advice from their fellow students (McKavanagh, Connor, & West, 1996). Research also demonstrates that the use of peer support programmes increase students’ persistence with study (Clulow & Brennan, 1996), helps them have higher grades (Rodger & Tremblay, 2003) and increases their engagement, satisfaction and retention (Krause, 2005; Krause, 2007). The concept of peer support in educational settings can take many forms and may include actions such as listening, mentoring, advising, tutoring, group leadership and all supportive activities of an interpersonal nature. The term peer refers to people who have similar expertise or life experiences. The relationship is broadly one of equality and mutual understanding.

The Context University College Cork and the Disability Support Service are committed to increasing access to higher education for people with disabilities. Since 2002, Diarmaid Ring, Service User Activitist/Peer Advocate, in collaboration with Mary O’Grady, Disability Support Officer UCC, provided academic and social support to students with mental health difficulties on a peer/professional basis. The success of this one-to-one holistic endeavour showed students increased engagement with the University, exams success and increased retention. The UCC Uplift Programme is a peer-led positive mental wellbeing initiative created in response to a 2010 publication: Students with Disabilities Tracking Report – 2005 Intake. The publication highlighted that students with mental health difficulties had the lowest retention rate across all nine third level institutions participating in the study. The report recommended ‘the need to target students with mental health difficulties, particularly in first year, when the highest withdrawals occur’ (Twomey et. al, 2010:39) An opportunity arose in 2010 whereby Genio sought applications for innovative projects focusing on positively impacting on the lives of people with mental health challenges. Genio is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to accelerate the availability of proven, cost-effective, personalised supports, enabling people with disabilities and mental health difficulties to lead full lives. The UCC Peer Mentor Programme Proposal was one of the successful applications that received funding to help establish and implement the peer-led mentoring for students with mental health challenges. 45


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Uplift to Positive Mental Health University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

Objective The objective of the UCC Peer Mentor Programme is to help students with mental health challenges to become resilient, resourceful and self-determined learners. The programme supports are specifically tailored to enhance academic, personal and social development while attending third level education. The UCC Peer Mentor Programme recruits and trains student volunteers (mentors) to be matched to fellow students (mentees) to whom they provide support throughout the academic year. Mentors are supported in their volunteer role throughout the academic year in the form of regular reflective learning meetings. The UCC Peer Mentor Programme complements other academic and student supports within UCC. The additional programme objectives are to: • Improve retention rate of students with mental health challenges in UCC • Increase the participants’ self-esteem, self-confidence and self-efficacy • Increase the participants’ engagement with college life • Train mentors to support students experiencing mental health challenges • Provide support to mentors and mentees throughout the process • Evaluate and document the outcomes and effectiveness of the project

The Programme Outline The programme currently takes the following structure; recruitment, training, matching, mentor/mentee support meetings and on-going support for mentors in the form of reflective learning meetings as outlined in Figure 1.

Reflective learning support

Peer led Mentoring

Advertisement and recruitment of mentors

Training mentors in social, emotional and academic Support Matching of mentors with first year mentees

Figure 1. Stages In UCC Peer Mentor Process

Mentor Recruitment The pre-requisite for mentors is they have to be coping with or have experienced a mental health difficulty at some point during their lives. Mentors need to be in UCC for at least one year to enable them to give advice about existing services within UCC and experience of college life, exams and lectures. In the spirit of inclusion, the application process is open to all students who meet the criteria, not simply students who are registered with the Disability Support Service in the University.

Peer Mentor Training Attendance and commitment to training is a prerequisite to becoming a mentor. It equips students with the necessary skills to become competent in assisting others. The training focuses on preparing mentors through acquiring knowledge and practical skills in an interactive and experiential learning environment.

46


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Uplift to Positive Mental Health University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

The training sessions focus on issues of confidentiality, boundaries, empathy, pre-judgements and referrals and qualities needed to be a good mentor. The mentors are encouraged to take part in activities and role plays which demonstrate methods of good practice. Mentors are required to complete academic training sessions covering general skills such as: time management, study skills, concentration techniques and accessing library resources. Peer mentors are not expected to be academic tutors, however many students experiencing mental health difficulties can find the academic workload stressful and may seek basic advice from mentors. Training covers the following topics and takes place over three days: Knowledge of Mental Health Perspectives

Development of Personal Skills and Competencies

Understanding the University Culture/Context

• Bio-Medical Model

• Awareness of Peer Mentor

• Bio-Psychosocial Model

• Guidelines around Processes and ProceduresActive Listening Skills

• Knowledge of Support Structures, Services and Resources

• Recovery Model • Peer Mentoring in the Mental Health Context • UCC Mental Health Policy • Peer Mentor Duties & Responsibilities

• Respecting Boundaries in Relationships • Understanding Confidentiality • Practice of Peer Mentoring • Skills e.g. role play

• Valuing Diversity & Difference • IT Learning Resources, Academic Support, Reference Material • Effective Study Strategies • UCC Clubs & Societies

Table 1. Peer Mentor Training Topics

The Matching Process Perhaps one of the most crucial dimensions affecting the mentoring relationship is the initial matching process. This is not only the most challenging process but also the most deliberated. Once trained, mentors are paired with mentees whom they will support for the academic term. With the use of student preference forms and good judgement, the staff in the Disability Support Service match mentors with mentees. Matching can be based upon course of study, interests, age, gender and/or personality traits. It should be noted that individual diagnoses do not necessarily play a part in the matching process, nor are they disclosed to fellow students at any point throughout the mentoring process. By matching students with similar experiences and backgrounds, the most appropriate support is provided for the mentee.

Student Participation To Date In 2010/2011 thirteen applicants were successful in progressing to the role as mentor, seven of these mentors continued in their role of supporting students into 2011/2012 when a further six new mentors were recruited. In total, nineteen students have been trained as UCC UpLift mentors. Table 2 highlights the balance of genders, faculties and levels of study represented by these volunteers.

47


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Uplift to Positive Mental Health University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

MENTOR PROFILE 2010/2011

2011/2012

Total

17

6

23

-

7

7

Mentors trained

13

6

19

Male Mentors

6

7

8

Female Mentors

7

6

11

Undergraduate Mentors

8

9

13

Postgraduate Mentors

1

-

1

Graduated Mentors

4

4

5

Mentors from Humanities

8

9

9

Mentors from Business and Law

3

3

3

Mentors from Science and Engineering

2

1

2

Mentors from Medicine & Health

-

-

0

Applications Received Mentors continuing in their role

Table 2. Profile of Mentors from Pilot Year and Year One

A somewhat unexpected yet encouraging aspect of the project was the number of students that participated in the programme who experience cross-disabilities. Students who suffer from physical disabilities, sensory disabilities or specific learning disabilities can also experience mental health challenges. In 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 the UpLift programme was fortunate to have student volunteers with disability categories such as aspergers, vision impairment or dyslexia. These students were invaluable in supporting other students who were managing more than one diagnosis.

Recruitment of Student Mentees Mentees are recruited from the cohort of undergraduate students registered within UCC. Given that the retention rate for students with disabilities in UCC is lowest in year two (Twomey et. al, 2010), a decision was made to make the programme available for all undergraduate students instead of commonly targeted first year students. Students who could benefit from additional support are identified by Disability Support Officer and informed about the programme. In addition to this the campus counselling and medical services recommend the programme to students who they feel can benefit from further support.

MENTEE PROFILE 2010/2011

2011/2012

Total

Total Number of Mentees Supported

13

13

26

Mentees Continuing in their Role

-

1

1

Mentee Progressed to Mentor

-

1

1

2

2

Mentees Withdrawing from UpLift Table 3. Profile of Mentees for Pilot Year and Year One

48


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Uplift to Positive Mental Health University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

Reflective Learning Meetings Reflective learning meetings were introduced to the UCC peer mentor programme as a tool to support and advise mentors for the duration of the mentoring process. The reflective process was founded on Gibbs reflective cycle (Gibbs, 1988). Reflective Learning Meetings provide the space for mentors to: • Reflect on interactions with their mentees • Share positive and challenging experiences •

Give advice, guidance and encouragement to one another

• Receive support and guidance from the project team Mentors attend up to eight one-hour reflective learning meetings throughout the year. They can also avail of support from the mentor team as and when they need it outside of the meetings. Description

What Happened?

Action Plan

Feelings

If it Arose again what would you do?

What were you thinking and feeling?

Conclusion

Evaluation

What else could you have done?

What was good and bad about the experience?

Analysis

What sense can you make of the situation?

Figure 2. Gibbs Reflective Cycle

Evaluation Methodology A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods were used to assess the impact of the UpLift programme on each cohort of mentors and mentees.

Questionnaire Each participant was asked to complete a questionnaire prior to meeting their mentor/mentee, and again at the end of the academic term. The questionnaires captured information on self-esteem, self-efficacy, perception of social support and its impact on stress, confidence and engagement with college life.

Mentoring Log In addition to completing questionnaires, each mentor was required to keep a mentoring log. This log recorded the frequency of meetings with mentees and the type of contact and support they utilised throughout the mentoring process.

Interviews To supplement the statistical analysis taken from questionnaires and logs, a series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with mentors and mentees. In 2010/2011, nine semi-structured interviews were conducted.

Findings : Impact and Outcomes of the Programme The UCC UpLift programme has exceeded its objectives both in the pilot programme and in year one. Both cohorts of students who participated in this programme have experienced positive impacts and have shown a great commitment to the programme. To date, over 177 hours of mentoring has taken place between almost fifty students. The vast majority of students sought support regarding their health, their study strategies and also their personal concerns. In responding to these needs, mentors provided a listening ear for their mentees and they gave practical information where possible. In table 4 below, the green rows indicate the amount of contact between the mentor and mentee throughout the year. The purple rows signify the type of support sought by mentees and the orange rows highlight the type of support mentors provided. 49


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Uplift to Positive Mental Health University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

MENTORING TRENDS 2010/2011

2011/2012

Total

64

113

177

Phone Calls

-

6

6

Text Messages

6

8

14

Email

19

-

19

Personal Support

42

21

63

Study Support

35

21

56

-

9

9

13

9

22

-

16

16

Health Concerns

14

22

36

Family Concerns

9

20

29

Listening Ear

52

30

82

Follow up Meeting

28

27

55

Referral

13

8

21

Practical Information

16

16

32

Face to Face meetings

UCC related Support Financial Support Social Support

Table 4. Mentoring Trends

Impact and Outcomes of the Mentoring Programme on Mentees The findings of the evaluation have highlighted that this unique programme was successful in improving mentees’ retention within the University and enabling mentees to engage more successfully with the academic environment. In 2010/2011 all thirteen of the mentees who continued to the end of the pilot programme and all of their mentors were retained within the university. Similarly, full retention was achieved amongst student mentees in 2011/2012. Based on the findings of the student tracking report (Twomey et al., 2010) where it was found that the withdrawal rate for students with mental health challenges, on a national level is 44%, this is a remarkable achievement.

(1) Increased Self-Esteem The questionnaire results indicate that all the students who were mentored during pilot programme experienced an increase in their self-esteem. The statistical results were supported by the interview responses of the students in 2011/2012 who said that they felt more confident in their own ability to adapt to student life. Mentees indicated that they were inspired by the successes and accomplishments of their mentors who had experienced similar mental health challenges and were encouraged to reach their potential despite their mental health challenges. Mentees also felt more comfortable going to college when they knew they had a familiar face to ask for support.

(2) Enhanced Engagement with College Life In 2010/2011, half of the mentees who participated in the programme enhanced their engagement with college life. Students struggling with their mental health can withdraw from social life on campus when they are experiencing their most challenging times. Meeting a mentor on campus can encourage students to come to college and to feel comfortable being on campus. One mentee said, ‘I did find it hard to make friends last year so it was someone to meet up and have coffee with’ (Mentee, 2012). Table 4 demonstrates that mentors played an important role in responding to student queries by referring them to relevant student services on campus, such as; the Students’ Union, student health or student financial services.

50


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Uplift to Positive Mental Health University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

(3) Decreased Academic Stress The results show that almost three quarters of the students being mentored felt that they had reduced their stress levels by the end of the mentoring process. This is a significant finding as academic stress and mental health challenges can often impact and exacerbate one another. By discussing academic anxieties with mentors, students gained valuable knowledge about time management, study strategies, essay planning and organisation. Mentees also received encouragement to tackle their academic workload efficiently, despite any setbacks they may have experienced. Practical information about how to go about getting essay extensions, splitting exams, repeating and requesting added support such as tutoring can prevent students who are falling behind from permanently terminating their study.

(4) Broader Support Network Almost 75% of mentees who participated in the pilot programme felt that they had expanded their social support network by the end of the mentoring process. While this support network includes family, friends, professionals and partners, the category which showed the highest degree of improvement during the mentoring process was the category of friendship. Mentees often felt that their mentor was a good friend despite the fact that mentoring was a somewhat formal arrangement; ‘I always felt good after meeting my mentor, she was very positive and affirming with me that I was doing okay. I looked forward to meeting her. I talked really honestly with her and I trusted her’ (Mentee, 2011).

(5) Increased Self-Efficacy By the end of the mentoring process in 2010/2011, the questionnaires show that more than three quarters of students felt more academically capable and able to cope with their college workload such as essays, exams and lectures. They also felt that they were more confident in approaching lecturers and tutors to enquire about assignments and exams. This not only eased stress it enhanced their self-confidence and self-efficacy.

Impact and Outcomes of the Mentoring Programme on Mentors (1) Development of new Skills Through compulsory participation in a comprehensive training programme, mentors gained important new skills such as communication skills, knowledge about referral services, interpersonal skills and confidentiality awareness. The training gave mentors the self-confidence they need to be able to support other students. Some mentors became more familiar with their own approach to mentoring. One mentor highlighted his personal learning; ‘on a personal level I learned more about myself and my own boundaries. I learned about how to establish them and maintain them. It’s always tough to get the balance so that was learning for me’ (Mentor, 2012).

(2) Positive Personal Development Interviews in both 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 revealed that mentors experienced huge personal development. They felt on a personal level that they got more than they expected from the mentoring process. For instance, one mentor pointed out that mentoring was a good reminder for him that mental health is an on-going challenge that he was reminded not to take for granted. Others learned that mentoring, reflection and sharing was a therapeutic experience for them because they were not concentrating on their own mental health in the process.

(3) Broader Social Network Participation in training and reflective learning meetings increased mentors contact with others who were positively managing their mental health. This increased the mentors social support network. In total, 44% of the mentors increased or maintained their social support network in 2011/2012. Mentors felt part of a supportive group and they felt that they were making a difference.

(4) Sense of Accomplishment In interviews mentors highlighted that they felt a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment by being able to offer support to fellow students. The sense of accomplishment that mentors noted in interviews was enhanced by mentees who showed gratitude to mentors for their time and their friendship.

51


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Uplift to Positive Mental Health University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

(5) Increased Self-Esteem The quantitative tracking of mentors progress in 2011/2012 shows that 67% of mentors improved or maintained their self-esteem. It should be noted that 78% of the students who applied to be mentors for the UpLift programme had higher than average self-esteem when they started mentoring. That is, before they started mentoring in 2011/2012, 78% of mentors scored twenty-two or higher on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. This is a good reflection on the UpLift team who recruited exceptionally confident and capable students to mentor others.

(6) Decreased Academic Stress Questionnaires show that 67% of mentors in 2011/2012 reduced their stress levels by the end of the mentoring programme. Mentors revealed that they gained a greater awareness of their own learning strategies. Questionnaires also revealed that 56% of mentors maintained or improved their attitude towards education. Mentors noted that advising others on study strategies and organisation encouraged them to tackle their own workload in a more positive and efficient manner.

The UCC UpLift Model The defining philosophy of the UCC service user model is a student centred approach to mental health support which is grounded by the recovery approach to mental health. Building on this philosophy, the UpLift peer mentoring model has a number of key features which include; 1. Service users have a key role to play in the planning and developing of the programme. 2. Services work in partnership with the service user to create university wide support services. 3. The voluntary nature of the programme supports empowering relationships, based on trust, understanding and respect. 4. The Collaborative model is based on negotiation, dialogue and reflective action. 5. Outcomes are measured in terms of the perceived benefits of the service users. 6. Responsibility and support is given to students who are coping with mental health challenges. 7. A feedback loop system is an essential operating principle between staff, mentors and mentees participating in the programme. The evaluation, which encompasses feedback from mentors, mentees and staff, clearly demonstrates that the model works. For the vast majority of participants, the peer-led mentoring model improved the quality of their third level experience and provided essential support during times of difficulty. The Uplift to Positive Mental Health has enormous potential to be adapted and applied in different contexts. This potential varies widely, for instance; the model could be transferred to other Higher Education Institutes who are seeking to support their students with mental health difficulties. In educational settings such as universities, institutes of technology and colleges of further education this model could be seen as a great resource for incoming students. Similarly, the peer-led mentoring model could be successfully adapted to generate tailored support for students with cross-disabilities. Finally, the UpLift model could be expanded and developed to assist students with mental health difficulties in their transition to employment. Collaborative partnerships between employers, students and support staff could be forged to enhance the studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s employability and encourage a smooth transition from education to employment.

52


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MENTAL HEALTH: Uplift to Positive Mental Health University College Cork Peer Mentor Programme

Biographical Information Aimie Brennan is a final year PhD candidate and researcher in the Department of Sociology, UCC. Aimie’s contribution to the ‘Students with Disabilities Tracking Report – 2005 Intake’ led her to become involved in the UCC peer mentoring programme in 2010. In conjunction with Dr. Denis Staunton, Aimie has designed and implemented a three year evaluation of the UpLift to Mental Health Programme (2010-2013). The evaluation report is currently underway and a final report will be available in September 2013. Diarmaid Ring is a mental health service user/activist with extensive experience in peer advocacy. Diarmaid has spent twelve years working with the Disability Support Service in University College Cork providing peer academic mentoring to students with mental health difficulties. Diarmaid was the first service user to be ministerially appointed to the inaugural Mental Health Commission in 2001 and has lectured extensively on mental health issues and recovery orientated practices worldwide. Claire Dunne is a Counselling Psychologist and Coordinator of the Peer Assisted Student Support (PASS) programme in University College Cork run through Student Counselling and Development. The PASS programme includes the studentto-student support services, uLink Peer Support and Niteline. Claire works with the rest of the Uplift to Positive Mental Health Team to deliver the Uplift programme. Dr Denis Staunton has been involved in the field of education for the past thirty years at community level, in the informal learning community-based setting and in the formal third-level education sector. Denis has worked in University College Cork in a number of different roles including teaching in the Department of Applied Social Studies; designing and developing adult education programmes through the Centre for Adult Continuing Education and as Director of Access with responsibility for widening participation for previously excluded groups – socio-economically disadvantaged school leavers, mature students and people with disabilities. Dr Staunton has carried out research and written about youth and community, adult education and social policy. He has just written a new book: Going to College as a Mature Student: the next step in your Academic Journey, published in 2012 by the Centre for Adult Continuing Education, UCC.

Bibliography Clulow, V. and Brennan, L. (1996) ‘It’s not what you know it’s who you know: Student relationship constellations and their impact on study success and persistence’. In: James, R. and McInnes, C. eds. Transition to Active Learning: Proceedings of the 2nd Pacific Rim conference on the first year in higher education. Melbourne: University of Melbourne. Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. Oxford: Further Educational Unit, Oxford Polytechnic. Krause, K. (2005) Serious thoughts about dropping out in first year: Trends, patterns and implications for higher education. Studies in Learning, Evaluation Innovation and Development. Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne, 2(3), pp. 55–68. http://sleid.cqu.edu.au Krause, K. (2007) Beyond the classroom walls: Students out-of-class peer experiences and implications for teaching and learning. Griffith University, Australia. McKavanagh, M., Connor, J., and West, J. (1996) ‘It’s moments like these you need mentors’. In James, R. and McInnes, C. eds. Transition to active learning: Proceedings of the 2 and Pacific Rim conference on the first year in higher education. Melbourne: University of Melbourne, Centre for the Study of Higher Education. Mead, S., Hilton, D., and Curtis, L. (2001) Peer Support: A Theoretical Perspective. The Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Rodger, S., and Tremblay, P. F. (2003) The effects of a peer mentoring program on academic success among first year university students. Canadian Journal of Higher Education. Vol 33, pp. 1-18. Twomey, O., Amberson, J., and Brennan, A. (2010) Students with Disabilities Tracking Report – 2005 Intake. Cork: Pathways to Education.

53


COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY Does coaching help adult learners realise their potential? 55 Tom Hennessy, Educational Coach & Mary O’Sullivan, Mature Student Officer, University College Cork

Enhancing students’ employability through extra and co-curricular activities DBS model 65 Denise McMorrow, Michael Kielty, Danielle Kerrins & Ian McGlynn, Dublin Business School

Taking the LEAD: Reflections on enhancing employability skills development? 75 Dr Jen Harvey and Dr Rachel O’Connor, Dublin Institute of Technology

Working From The Inside Out: From touchy feely to optimum human functioning? 81 Dr Michael Ryan, Martin Fitzgerald, Bridget Kirwan & Marie Walsh, LIT Tipperary

54


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential? Tom Hennessy, Educational Coach & Mary O’Sullivan, Mature Student Officer, University College Cork

Abstract Does coaching help adult learners realise their potential? The coaching industry which continues to grow, claims that it helps people to clarify their goals, realise their potential and help people succeed in life. Research indicates that coaching helps people to perform better by enhancing their awareness, self-confidence and self-reliance. While coaching has it’s contemporary origins in sport, it is now well established in industry with coaching being employed by the majority of Fortune 500 companies. The move of coaching from sport through industry to education has occurred. Coaching is employed as a support in some third level institutions, colleges and universities in Ireland. The Mature Student Office, UCC designed and developed an educational coaching programme in recognition of the significant life skills that the adult learners hold with the aim to build on these skills to help the adult learner establish a firm foothold in university life. Modules were delivered in the class room which were supported with 1-2-1 coaching sessions. The programme was delivered in a series of blocks throughout the academic year and the study presented here explores the impact of the educational coaching programme on the adult learners in realising their potential. One hundred and eighty eight mature students took part in the study, 38 of whom availed of educational coaching. The impact of the coaching programme called “Student Life sUCCess” will now be put forward.

The foundations of coaching Coaching has many elements in its foundation, “Coaching draws its influences from and stands on the shoulders of a wide range of disciplines, including counselling, management consultancy, personal development and psychology.” (Passmore, 2007, pg 21). Coaching focuses on people, the coachee (person being coached) and the coach (person coaching) are central to the discipline. Coaching can be seen as a way of enabling human development. It has relevance in the interaction for both coach and coachee and the establishment of awareness and connection with a distinct results focus. “...All coaches have one thing in common. It’s that they are ruthlessly results-orientated” (Horn, Elliott, Forbringer, 2010, pg 51). Taie (2011) acknowledges that coaching helps the coachee unlock their true potential through raising awareness, inspiring new ideas and encouraging creativity. “Coaching is defined as the art and practice of inspiring, energising and facilitating performance, learning and development of the coachee”. (Taie, 2011, pg 34).

Coaching definitions There are many definitions of coaching, all of which describe a similar principle and have many terms in common. “There is still no universally agreed definition of coaching in business contexts, or indeed a clear consensus on how it should be labelled.” (Bond, Seneque, 2013, pg 57). There are even some that question whether coaching is an art or a science. To help our understanding of coaching the term is defined below: • “Unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teach them.” (Whitmore, 2012, pg 10). •

“A professional partnership between a qualified coach and an individual or team that supports the achievement of extraordinary results, based on goals set by the individual or team.” (International Coaching Federation, 2013).

• “The art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another” (Downey, 2003, pg. 21). For the purposes of this paper, coaching is defined by the researcher as: • A confidential relationship based on trust, focused on the coachees’ ability, and their desire to achieve the goals they describe, document and action.

55


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

Central to the definitions are the relationships that arise between coach and coachee, the factors of confidentiality, trust and the desire to achieve goals or what some definitions describe as the “unlocking of the persons full potential” (Bono et al, 2009, pg 2).

Who are adult learners? Adult Education is defined as “systematic learning undertaken by adults who return to learning having concluded initial education or training” (Ireland, Department of Education and Science, July 2000). Aontas (The National Adult Learning Organisation) believes that people learn continuously throughout their lives in formal or informal settings; at home, in the workplace, in the community, in learning centres, universities and institutions. “Adult learners are people who are over 23 years, returning to higher education to undertake educational programmes.” (Aontas, 2013). As outlined by Aontas adult learners may not need to hold a Leaving Certificate Qualification and return to education after a number of years away from formal education. For the purposes of the study presented here the students were on full-time undergraduate degree programmes (level 8).

Adult learners and the barriers that adult learners experience in higher education The adult learner has many responsibilities that must be balanced against the demands of learning. Because of these responsibilities, adults may encounter barriers while participating in learning. Some of these barriers include (a) lack of time, (b) lack of confidence, (c) lack of information about opportunities to learn, (d) scheduling problems, (e) lack of motivation, (f) red tape. (Russell, 2006, pg 352). Adult learners display certain characteristics first identified by Malcolm Knowles in 1970 as follows: “..automated and self-directed; accumulated a foundation of experience and knowledge, goal oriented, relevancy oriented, practical, need to be shown respect.” (Russell, 2006, pg 350). The barriers and characteristics of adult learners are central to the learning experience. Coaching specifically addresses both the barriers and the characteristics. Central to the characteristic is the achievement of goals, while central to the barriers is the lack of time, opportunity and information. “Coaching could potentially be undertaken in any area of higher education to improve skill, performance and confidence of students and of course, staff.” (Wisker et al, 2008 pg 23).

Coaching and its application to adult learners Coaching focuses on moving the coachee towards the achievement of their goals. (Passmore, 2007) In essence it is thinking about what people desire and the ways in which they can go about achieving it. Coaching is one of the ways people can identify what they wish to change, and get support to identify the ways in which they can make that change and base it in their authentic desire. This is what Frankl (1955) described as, “Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary”. (Frankl, 1955, pg 133). When it comes to education and adult learners coaching now has a place, this is secured due to the results that coaching has brought about through student retention, academic results and development of awareness. “Adult learners in higher education can be coached to reflect on their internal thought processes and develop metacognitive skills that can be used to consciously manage their own learning” (Mokhtari, Sheorey, 2002, pg 2). One of the clear arguments for the inclusion of coaching in higher education is the support this would provide for students’ learning more generally. “In offering students an ‘applied’ focus utilising the development principles of coaching psychology, students would be enabled to learn about planning, review and goal setting processes and apply this to their own learning aspirations...” (Burns, Gillon, 2011 pg, 90). Student success is often measured by the attainment of a degree or an academic accreditation. Seen in this light it would indicate that the learning and time spent in university or institution is not of relevance unless the student achieves the parchment. There is of course a counter argument as outlined by Flint (2005) “. . . it is also believed that an adult student is successful when he or she reaches an individual goal, even if that is just the completion of a course or certificate, well short of a full degree”. (Flint, 2005, pg 8). Coaching is about enabling people secure their goals and potential, this is why it has been adopted within higher education to enable adult learners and students to achieve their goals, better academic results and greater awareness.

56


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

Contrasting coaching, counselling and mentoring Coaching is different to counselling and mentoring. While all are based on the person, they have different roles in people’s lives. “While therapy may be about damage and counselling about distress, coaching is about desire” (Passmore, 2007, pg 21), or as Whitmore describes it “Coaching focuses on future possibilities, not past mistakes” (Whitmore, 2012, pg 9). As people seek to understand their desires, goals and meaning, some reach out for coaching, to help them achieve results. There are various coaching approaches that span the remit of sports, life, executive, educational, career, parenting and ability. Coaching is a relationship where the coach through empathic understanding, the quality of the relationship, the giving of unconditional positive regard, and active listening seeks to foster an environment that will be constructive and positive. By the very nature of coaching both the coach and the coachee are in an open and learning environment. The coach is not required to be expert in the subject matter of the coachee, “... coaching is more about asking the right questions than telling people what to do, and it is not necessarily concerned with the subject-matter expertise or advice giving.” (Rettinger, 2011, pg 429). It is considered that coaching can be seen as an umbrella term for a variety of methodological approaches and techniques in the area of human development, the topic of competence and the expertise can be seen as made relevant by both the coach and the coachee in their interaction.

What is the impact of coaching on adult learners to realise their potential? Human beings have an innate ability to grow, develop and actualise. Adult learners are sometimes referred to as mature students, but the term defined by Aontas (The National Association for Adult Education) defines an adult learner as someone over the age of 23 and taking a full-time higher course of education for the first time. (Aontas, May, 2012). The coaching approach utilised in the UCC sUCCess programme was Solution-Focused Coaching. Hicks and McCracken (2010) outline that the role of the coach is to help the coachee find their own path forward. They state you can do this by “Identify the goal or outcome they want to move toward.” (Hicks, McCracken, 2010, pg 62). However coaching is more about asking the right question in the right way at the right time. Mertel (2010) concludes that; “By developing an ear for hearing your client’s values, you have the opportunity to deliver coaching that may not only support your their goals but also enhance the meaning of their world around themselves”. (Mertel, 2010, pg 190). The evidence is stacked that coaching helps people focus on themselves and their goals. The realisation of the goals is not done only through the coaching, it is through the ‘act’ or ‘will’ or ‘commitment’ of the coachee. “A series of ‘will’ questions are applicable to the majority of coaching situations.” (Whitemore, 2012, pg 85). The establishment of a goal is one element, but it is only by the actions of the coachee’s that the goal is realised. Coaching enables coaches and adult learners to develop action plans through different models. The model used with the Student sUCCess Programmed is called the GROW model: Goal, Reality, Options & Will. (Passmore, 2007, pg 47). The GROW model helps the adult learner establish their goal, look at the reality of the goal, view the options and obstacles and finally identify if they have the will necessary to attend to the path forward to secure same. With Solution-Focused Coaching the coach does not need to have a detailed understanding of the problem to find a solution. Focus on the future creates more useful outcomes than focusing on the past. Change is more likely to occur through small steps rather than large ones. “It places the responsibility for a desirable outcome right where it belongs – in the hands of the person being coached.” (Hicks, McCracken, 2010, pg 64). Solution focused coaching was developed as a brief intervention. Solution focused coaching does not seek to resolve past injuries, uncover and reduce defence mechanisms, rebuild cognitive schemas, or effect change. But instead “it seeks to uncover with the client his/her own resourcefulness and bring this to bear in the service of the client’s goal.” (Cox, Bachkirova, Clutterbuck, 2010, pg 56). The objective of the work is to establish if coaching adult learners can assist in the realisation of potential.

The results of the primary research undertaken in UCC At the Transition to University workshops for mature students prior to the start of term 1 in 2012, all participants were informed about the “Student Life sUCCess Programme” and were invited to sign up for group coaching. Initially 172 first year students expressed an interest. One hundred and ten mature students in total availed of the class delivered programme and 49 attended for 1-2-1 coaching sessions. To establish if the educational coaching helped those who participated to realise their potential versus those who did not avail of the service it was decided to contact all 393 first year adult learners in UCC. They were issued with an online survey through the survey tool, Survey Monkey. They were asked to answer 15 questions. The survey stayed open for 7 days and had a response rate of 47.8 % or 188 completed surveys. Of the 188 mature students took part in the study, 38 had actually availed of 1-2-1 educational coaching which is a 77% response rate for the participants of the 1-2-1 support provided. 57


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

Demographical Information Age range of students who responded to the study (Total respondents: 188)

Figure 1. Respondents age

What was your level of education prior to entering University? This question was answered by 170 adult learners

Figure 2. Level of education prior to entering university

58


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

When did you last study? The respondents were asked how many years is it since you last studied (prior to UCC). This yielded 187 responses with 1 person skipping the question.

Figure 3. When last did you study?

What was your employment status prior to entering UCC? The respondents were asked what their employment status was prior to entering UCC. This yielded 182 responses with 6 persons skipping the question.

Figure 4. Employment status prior to entering UCC?

Most notably 32% were unemployed, while almost 50% were employed (24% in full-time employment and 26% in parttime employment). 59


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

Why did you return to university? This yielded 183 responses with 5 persons skipping the question. This question gave eight options and an option to complete â&#x20AC;&#x153;otherâ&#x20AC;?.

Figure 5. Why did you return to university?

Almost 70% returned to achieve a degree. Over 55% felt that it would help them establish a career. Almost 50% indicated that they returned to fulfil a lifelong ambition / goal.

Did you avail of coaching provided by UCC? This yielded 118 responses with 70 persons skipping the question. Of the 118 responses, 38 (32%) had availed of coaching, while 80 (68%) had not availed of coaching.

How many coaching sessions did you attend? The 38 students who availed of coaching, indicated that they presented for a series of coaching sessions.

Figure 6. How many coaching sessions did you attend?

60


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

Almost 80% of respondents availed of more than one session. Almost 65% of respondents had three or more sessions. The vast majority of respondents 76% had between one and four sessions. While the adult learners were not curtailed on the number of sessions that they could attend, there were just over 20% that had five sessions or more.

If offered 1-2-1 coaching would you avail of it? All respondents were asked this question. The question was answered by 157 respondents. Of those that did respond 85% would avail of coaching with just 15% preferring not to. It is important to note that all of the first years were actually offered the coaching at the start of the year and 172 expressed an interest. It was advertised in the mature Student Common Room and via emails but again not all of the students were aware of the availability of the coaching programme.

Would you recommend coaching to other students? The question was answered by 40 respondents with 148 people skipping the question. Of those that did respond 97.5% would recommend coaching with 2.5% of people saying no.

Did coaching impact on you positively or negatively? The respondents who availed of coaching were asked to clarify if the coaching experience had an impact in any way, either positively or negatively? Of those asked,100% indicated that the impact was positive. The responses to these questions included 11 comments on the experience. Some of these included the following statements: “I found it gave me confidence and direction”; “I was expecting something different”; “It provides a focus for self assessment and future planning”; “It gave me focus, direction and confidence in myself”; “It helped me realise some obvious facts about my life”; “Always felt more positive and in control of things after the session”; “The coaching experience set me up to be who I am meant to be.. thanks”. Note that 37 responses were received but 38 people availed of coaching. One person skipped this question.

Did coaching help you in the realisation of your goals? The respondents who availed of coaching were asked to clarify if the coaching experience had an impact and helped in the realisation of their goals? Almost 90% answered yes. Just over 10% felt that the coaching experience didn’t help them with their goals. Some of the additional comments received on this question include: “I have been able to realise my goals, by focusing on what I need to do”; “I created a plan for the next year”; “It helped me to focus realistic goals and also to look outside the box”; “It helped me see through the ‘fog’ and be more proactive in my choices”; “It is still helping me and I find it an invaluable aid”; “It made me focus on the here and now and enjoy the experience of university”; “I am not sure since I had just a few meetings but it clarified some issues for me regarding my path”. One of the respondents had a negative impact, outlining that she felt that the coach was not suitable.

61


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

What other student supports did you availed of? The question was answered by 166 respondents. All bar two respondents availed of at least one support. There were 11 support options to choose from and respondents could also insert other supports that they availed of.

Figure 7. Other student supports that were availed of by adult learners

It is obvious that adult learners use the supports that the university provides for all students registered. The usage by adult learners against all students will be recommended to be examined further. All these supports play an important part of the adult learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; experience of university life.

Conclusions & Recommendations This section is designed to bring together the conclusions and recommendations in addition to highlighting the findings, the limitation of the research and the suggestions as to what further research should be undertaken to bring more rigor to the central question of the study.

Findings The research found that 89% of adult learners that were coached found that a coaching intervention did help in the realisation of their goals. The participants of the programme were all mature students, who varied in age, previous educational and life experience. The students that presented for the class-based modules were mainly in the 23 to 35yr cohort; however the students that presented for the 1-2-1 coaching were mainly in the cohort of 36 to 49 year bracket. In reviewing the highest level of educational attainment 55.7% held Leaving Certificate qualifications, however the people that presented for the 1-2-1 coaching were drawn from the cohort whose educational attainment did not include a Leaving Certificate qualification, which is significant. It means that people that were more challenged by academic setting were more inclined to present for support. The research found that almost 65% of participants had been outside the educational sphere for greater than one year, and that almost 30% were outside for greater than 5 years. Again these are the people that identified with the programme and sought support.

62


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

Ultimately the firm findings are based in the recognition that students presented to the Mature Student Office with ‘anxiety’, ‘worry’ and concerns. They truly were the ‘worried well’. Prior to the life coaching model, these students would have been referred on to other conventional supports available in the university, such as counselling, medical centre, peer support or back to their academic tutors. Therefore, it could be argued that these students would have been pathologised and labelled. The educational coaching programme focused on providing the students with practical skills to help them place their anxiety and worry within the context of the academic culture thus enabling them to put in place strategies to move forward. The students’ reflections post the Student Life sUCCess programme or the 1-2-1 coaching has given us the following information: • Academic Success: Several students mentioned that the “can do” attitude they picked up in the programme or the confidence to “just do it”. It has reassured them that they have the ability to succeed and has resulted in assignments getting submitted on time with marks they never dreamed possible. • Student Retention: Several students have credited the programme with helping them to remain in university when they had wanted to drop out. • Sense of community: Undertaking the programme people helped students to meet like-minded people that have become firm friends and allies. A sense of a community of learners is important for mature students as they can feel alienated within the majority of school leaving students who make up 90% of the undergraduate student population. • Sense of self: The programme-enabled people to be the very best versions of themselves. • Permission to be vulnerable: The programme gave students ‘permission’ to be vulnerable and honest and to ‘feel the pain and do it anyway’. Feeling the pain and not having a place to put that experience into perspective can lead to mature students dropping out of their degree programme. Many students who called to the Mature Student Office expressing a desire to drop out of university were referred to the Student Life sUCCess programme in the 1st instance (if it was evident that they were not presenting with emotional or health problems). These students have remained on their degree programme to date.

Limitations There are several limitations to this work. The online survey was only issued to adult learners in one university, and only to 1st year students. The sample size of 393 adult learners was significant and representative of adult learners within UCC, however only 48% of adult learners completed the survey. In addition to this the greatest limitation was in the exposure of the adult learners to coaching. Only 38 students that completed the survey had actively been coached. The suggestion would be to revisit this once a more representative sample had actively participated in the coaching. The limitations of time also meant that while peer reviewed literature was reviewed there would need to be a more extensive search and review of the literature particularly in relation to cited articles on adult learners and coaching. While some literature was found in this space it was not by any means extensive and further analysis would be necessary.

Further research It has been suggested that further research should be undertaken in a range of other areas, including: the importance of the role of coaching of all students not just adult learners; the impact of coaching into the ongoing success of the achievement of goals achieved as a result of coaching; how the role of coaching can be adopted to further support adult learners in the completion of their degrees and what role coaching can play in the context of adult learners in the use of their degrees to secure jobs.

Conclusions The impact that coaching had on adult learners who availed of it in this study on the realisation of their goals is emphatic. The students who stated that they would have left the university if they had not received the coaching is significant. These students had experienced a sense of ‘culture shock’ when they began their degree programme. The ‘culture shock’ resulted in them becoming overwhelmed and feeling that they did not belong in the academic environment. They were not unwell and did not require medical or counselling support; however they did need reassurance and direction on how to ‘survive’ within the academy. Educational coaching provided that support. The research indicates that coaching has a positive impact on adult learners realising their goals & potential and that has benefits not only for the higher institutions, but the adult learners, their families and communities and that is something to be championed.

63


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Does Coaching help adult learners realise their potential?

Biographies Mary O’Sullivan is the Mature Student Office in UCC. She has worked in the area of mature student access to higher education for over eleven years. Tom Hennessy is an educational coach in UCC. He submitted a masters of business thesis on “What is the impact of coaching on adult learners to realise their goals” to UCC/IMI, in May 2013. He previously worked in the corporate sector for over 25 years.

Bibliography Aontas.(2013). Aontas: The national adult learning organisation. Available at: http://www.aontas.com/ (Accessed: 9 January 2013). Bond. C, Seneque, M. (2013) ‘Conceptualizing coaching as an approach to management and organizational development’, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 32. No 1, pp 57-72 Bono, J.E., Purvanova, R.K., Towler, A.J. and Peterson, D.B. (2009) ‘A survey of executive coaching practices’, Personnel Psychology, 62(2), pp. 361-404. Burns, L. Gillon, E. (2011) ‘Developing a teaching agenda for coaching psychology in undergraduate programmes’ The Coaching Psychologist, Vol, 7. No. 2. The British Psychological Society Cox, E. Bachkirova, T. and Clutterbuck. D. (2010). ‘The Complete Handbook of Coaching.’ Sage, London Downey, M (2003) Effective Coaching, Thomson, New York Flint, T. (2005) ‘How well are we serving our adult learners’ Investigating the impact of institutions on success & retention. Council for adult and experiential learning. Cael, Chicago. Frankl, V.E. (1959) Man’s search for Meaning, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY. Hicks, R. and McCracken, J. (2010) ‘Solution-focused coaching’, Physician Executive, 36(1), pp. 62-64 Horn, M., Elliott, L. and Forbringer, L.R. (2010) ‘Making a case for coaching’, Physician Executive, 36(6), pp. 50-53. International Coaching Federation (2013) Available at: http://www.coachfederation.org/need/landing. cfm?ItemNumber=978&navItemNumber=567 (Accessed 01 March 2013) Mertel, Tina (2010) ‘Using meaningful coaching for maximum results.’ Industrial and commercial Training, 42 (4), pp. 186-191. Mokhari, K. Sheorey, R. (2002) ‘Measuring ESL Students Awareness of Reading Strategies’ Journal of Developmental Education 25, no 3. pp. 2-10 Passmore, Jonathan. (2007) Excellence in coaching, The Industry Guide. Kogan Page. London Rettinger, S. (2011) ‘Construction and display of competence and (professional) identity in coaching interactions’, Journal of Business Communication, 48(4), pp. 426-445. Russell, S (2006). ‘An overview of Adult-Learning Processes’ Urologic Nursing. Vol 26. No 5. pp 349-352 Taie, E.S. (2011) ‘Coaching as an approach to enhance performance’, Journal for Quality & Participation, 34(1), pp. 34-38. Whitmore, J (2012) Coaching for performance, 4th edn, Nicholas Brealey, London Wisker, G, Exley, K, Antoniou, M, Ridley, P (2008) Working One-to-One With Students, Routledge, New York, NY

64


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement

Enhancing Students’ Employability through Extra & Co-Curricular Activities. The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement Caitriona McGrattan, Denise McMorrow, Michael Kielty, Danielle Kerrins & Ian McGlynn, Dublin Business School

Abstract The combination of extracurricular engagement and an active employability strategy is key to the success of students gaining relevant work experience and a set of employability skills to succeed in today’s marketplace. This paper focuses on a new employability model which has been devised at Dublin Business School and responds to cutting edge research findings on best practice and various employability and extracurricular models in the UK and internationally. At Dublin Business School, we have recently succeeded in gaining academic recognition through QQI (Quality & Qualifications Ireland) for undergraduate students who engage in co-curricular activities and encourage participation in all aspects of college life, employer engagement at all stages of their academic undergraduate programmes with two five ECT modules at first year, second year and final year of their undergraduate programmes. These have been vastly welcomed by key employers and students alike and set about creating graduate attributes to reflect the unique learning experience for each of the students. Faced with a competitive job market, undergraduates are teaching themselves the skills they need for work through active participation in Clubs and Societies and a greater awareness of transferrable skills.

Introduction Many third-level institutions have approached student employability in different ways. More and more institutes are conscious of placing employability at the heart of their programmes for the benefit of learners. This can be accomplished through a series of level appropriate building blocks of learning suitable for our full-time and part-time learners. The two transitions – (a) to college and (b) to the workplace – are the focus of these modules. This is both a reflection of our own findings and re-stated goals for our learners but also reflects the HEA report1 ‘which charges higher education institutions to ‘Reinforce the issue of foundational skills and the first-year experience as priorities for concerted action across Irish higher education institutions.’ Employability Defined: “a set of attributes, skills and knowledge that all labour market participants should possess to ensure they have the capability of being effective in the workplace – to the benefit of themselves, their employers and the wider economy” (Working towards your future, 2011).

1

HEA: From Transaction to Transition: Outcomes of the Conference on the Transition from Second to Third-Level Education in Ireland, December 2011

65


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement

Benchmarks In designing these modules, DBS engaged with both academic and industry experts, for consultation and review of the suite of modules. The following list of companies was consulted: A & L Goodbody

Ferdia Fine Foods

Marriott

Accenture

First Derivatives

Matheson

Accounts Maintenance.ie

Fleishman Hilliard

Microsoft

AIB

French Connection (FCUK)

Morgan McKinley

Airtricity

GBW – Chartered Certified Accounts

Next Steps HR

Aldi

Google

Nexus451

Allianz

Grant Thornton

NHR consultancy

Amazon

Hayes

Oracle

Arthur Cox

HD Global

OSG

Baker Tilly Ryan

Healthcomms.com

Paddy Power

Bank of Ireland

Hertz

Pernod Ricard

Bank of New York Mellon

Hewlett Packard

Pet Master

BDO Simpson Xavier

Hopkins Merchandising

Proctor and Gamble

Brightwater Recruitment

HSBC

PWC

Bruce Betting

IBM

Reputation Inc

Byrne Looby Partners

ICAN

Salesforce.com

CarTrawler

Inpute

Sanofi Pasteur MSD

Category Solutions

Intel

Service Source

Certus

Irish Development Authority – IDA

Sigmar Recruitment

Citi

Joe.ie

Sremium

Cloud Strong

KBC Bank Plc

St. Patrick’s Festival

Cregg Group

Kerry Group

State Street International

Deloitte

KPMG

Stelfox

Digital Insights

Ksi Faulkner Orr

Tax Assist Accountants

DIT Hothouse

Laya Healthcare (Formerly Bupa)

Verios Solutions

Dublin City Council

Lidl

VHI

Ebay

LinkedIn

Vodafone

Eircom (Meteor)

LiveOnEveryScreen

William Fry

Ernst & Young

LMH Casey McGrath

Yahoo

ESB Electric Ireland

L’Oreal

Zenith PR

*Companies highlighted in Bold responded and provided valuable feedback

Sample Testimonials “I am very impressed by the decision of Dublin Business School to place employability at the centre of its programmes. I feel such an approach is both modern, forward thinking and innovative. It embraces, in a very effective way, the needs of the learner as well as the potential employer. It does so in a manner that is collaborative and also aligned to the needs of both the individual and the business in this challenging environment. I feel that such a considered and pragmatic focus will deliver impressive results in the time ahead.” Donie Wiley, Head of Customer Management, AIB Bank Mortgage Business “I think the employability module is a very good selling point for DBS. I particularly like the idea of psychometric testing and personality indicators. The Careers Team in DBS are very pro-active and a step ahead of other college in this regard.” Barbara Mangan, HR Manager, LHM Casey McGrath

66


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement

“As an employer, it is paramount that students understand the basics in relation to communication and the skills needed to achieve goals in the chosen sector. With these skills intact upon completion of the DBS Employability Skills Development Programme, students will gain the confidence to achieve their full potential and have a positive attitude towards job-hunting. I fully believe that these skills are crucial to secure employment in all types of organisations.” Declan Hopkins, Managing Director, Hopkins Merchandising “From our experience of working with DBS students as interns, we have found that the ESD programme produces well-rounded individuals that are very practical and capable of adjusting to a workplace environment” Eoin Costello, Programme Manager, DIT Hothouse “The DBS Employability Skills Development Programme is excellent. It is a really good element to have on any course and something that will be of huge benefit to students, in particular the Employability Skills Module and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Module.” Nessa Kiely, HR Specialist, Formerly Ernst and Young The Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation (IBEC) were consulted as reviewers through Mr. Tony Donohoe (Head of Education, Social & Innovation Policy). A meeting was held to discuss the proposed programme and provided valuable suggestions for the content and relevance of the modules. The meeting achieved the following: • Informed IBEC of the DBS Employability Skills Development Programme content to ensure that DBS students reach their full potential to meet the skills needs of respective industries. • Aligned the Employability Skills Development programme with the skills needs in both SMEs and Multinationals in order to follow best practice in skills development as has been researched extensively by IBEC and other agencies. • Provided a business perspective on the integration of DBS Employability Skills Development Programme. • Encouraged dialogue and promoted coordination between IBEC and DBS to enhance links between DBS and industry partners.

DBS Student Consultations A group of students were also consulted for their feedback on their experience to date of extra and co-curricular engagement and how this has assisted them to develop their employability skills.

Student Testimonials ‘For the last two years, I have been involved with Radio DBS. Not only has it enriched my social life through the events we run, the team have become a family. On top of this, the fact we produce podcast radio shows every week on professional equipment, to an award winning standard means that all of us who wish to pursue a career within the industry have an amazing knowledge base from which to work from. Currently there are four members working for radio broadcasters and many others seeking placements. The future is bright for Radio DBS, The Sound of College Life!’ Louise Bermingham, Radio DBS ‘Being involved in college life within DBS really feels like you are a part of something special. Every way you turn there is someone else there to make the experience the best that they can possibly make it and lend a helping hand to any query or problem. Working with one another has helped us succeed both as individuals and together as a team. ’  Jamie McDermott, DBS Rugby Team Member ‘Extracurricular activities have helped me in many aspects of college life; not only in the educational sense but also in my personal life. The lessons I have learnt through these activities have helped improve my dedication and focus on what I want to achieve during my degree and beyond.” Anita Okonkwo, DBS African Society

67


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement

Central to the discussions was the positive step being taken by DBS in integrating and embedding the personal and professional employability skills programme into the curriculum. The importance of students developing ‘flexibility and adaptability’ in their education was also highlighted. The six proposed attributes were discussed in detail along with the module descriptors. The progressive development aspect of the modules at each stage of the participants’ academic journey was welcomed. The DBS Employability Skills Development Programme enhances our education and training system to develop skills and nurture talent in our student population and this is a key policy concern for business. IBEC is represented on extensive education and training bodies and agencies in Ireland. The consultation process with IBEC was very constructive and worthwhile in order to ensure that the DBS Employability Skills Development Programme effectively develops students’ skills sets which are most relevant to industry.

Similar initiatives The process was further strengthened by a review of similar programmes and initiatives in Ireland, which fostered the creation and design of the suite of modules. Especially of relevance to our design is the work of the Association of Higher Education Career Services2. Finally, the HEA (Higher Education Authority) 2009 submission to Graduate Careers Ireland identified the roadmap and benchmarking in the DBS design of our suite of modules within the School of Business & Law programmes. Career development learning and personal development training are closely linked. Career development learning is a personal management tool to maximise the opportunities. This can be done through work in a number of areas; 1.

Self-awareness is a critical element of career development learning. It is essential that students are assisted to identify skills that have been developed by a degree; identify their personal skills that can be deployed in a career environment, identify how interests, personality, values and skills can play a role in life planning; identify their own strengths and weaknesses and have a clear and rounded view of themselves; identify the effect of influences on their sense of self and consequent career decisions.

2.

The ability to identify relevant and potential opportunities in the job market. Identify opportunities for further personal development through a proactive approach to lifelong learning.

3.

Improving career decision making skills, thinking strategically about one’s career and reacting to changing circumstances.

4. Understanding the transition into employment (and further employments) such as understanding recruitment/ selection methods, identifying job vacancies, identifying challenges to successfully obtaining suitable opportunities and devising strategies for addressing them, presenting oneself effectively at interviews, etc. (Higher Education Authority, Submission to Graduate Careers Ireland, 2009, p3)3 The range of skills required has remained largely unchanged over recent periods as highlighted by the Careers and Placement Service (CPS) research and employer feedback. How and why learner’s access and evidence learning, however, is changing radically: the use of technology, more diverse cohorts and new requirements from employers. It has long been recognised in the School of Business & Law that our core mission is not simply to impart knowledge but train learners for the skills for the competitive economy and also to play a valuable part in the holistic development of the person. Examples of such skills are communication skills, planning skills, participation in sporting and volunteering activities, multi-tasking etc. – skills that are essential not just in learning or work situations, but in all areas of life. Indeed, the Future Skills Needs report in 2007 stated that ‘Employees in all jobs will be increasingly required to acquire a range of generic and transferable skills including people-related and conceptual/thinking skills. Work will be less routine, with a requirement for flexibility, continuous learning, and individual initiative and judgment’.4 However, the term “transferable skills” is interchangeable with the terms “key skills”, “generic skills”, “core skills”, “soft skills” and so on. The words that are used vary from institution to institution, but the meaning remains the same. One definition describes key skills as being “… intimately bound up with notions of skill transfer; possession of these skills should enable individuals to perform more effectively in new, unfamiliar settings or contexts…essential to personal development, and therefore to the individual’s capacity to manage his or her own learning now and in the future.”5Transferrable skills6 also include ‘critical thinking, problem solving, written and other communication skills, time-management, team-working, and leadership’. In today’s knowledge-based society, people are expected to be more adaptable and more fluid in their transfer from one situation to another, be it from learning to work to leisure, and their personal skills play a huge role in their ability to handle these transitions with ease and confidence. 2 3 4 5

Association of Higher Education Career Services http://www.ahecs.ie/ HEA: www.hea.ie/.../HEASubmissionGraduateCareersIrelandFinal.doc Tomorrow’s Skills Towards a National Skills Strategy 5th Report Expert Group on Future Skills Needs 2007 Brown, G., “Higher Education: An International Perspective”, address to Colloquium on University Teaching and Learning: Policy and Practice, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, 1st – 2nd Dec 1998. 6 HETAC General Programme Validation Manual 2010 p28

68


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement

Recent trends in graduate employment in Ireland indicate that ‘traditional’ positions for graduates are becoming fewer and fewer in a more competitive and ever-changing employment market. As a consequence, the range and variety of jobs and types of organisations into which graduates are now entering is becoming increasingly diverse. Organisational structures are flatter, the number of SMEs is growing and the idea of a “portfolio career” is no longer a new concept. In addition, the numbers of graduates entering jobs that are directly related to their chosen discipline is falling. In these instances graduates are expected to be able to perform efficiently on the job almost as soon as they enter a position, utilizing the many skills they have gained while in third level education. Students partaking in college sport can help their future career, but only if we highlight the skills they have developed on their CV. Joining a Club or committee, being the Sports Rep on a committee or volunteer will provide students with experience of leadership, management of others and decision making skills. Employers are looking for candidates who stand out and have developed skills, abilities and ambitions – a degree is no longer enough to compete for limited opportunities. It is well known that: “Making yourself employable through extracurricular activities is a big part of getting the job you want – good qualifications are only half the answer.” Taking part in sport (particularly sports club activities) provides ideal opportunities for students to demonstrate to employers their skills in: • The ability to work as a team. • Time management. • Responsibility. • Interpersonal skills. • Goal setting. • Communication. • Leadership. • Management. • Decision-making.

3. Methodology The development of a DBS Employability Skills Programme through this suite of modules, is a way of formally acknowledging and adding value to various academic modules, student-led and support service-led activities and events already taking place outside the formal curriculum within the School of Business. In this respect the initiative is a programme within the programmes and designed to extend to all undergraduate students within the School of Business & Law. Furthermore, this suite of modules is intended to produce graduates with the following attributes: Independent and Continuous Learning, Communication Skills, I.T Proficiency, Problem Solving Skills, Teamwork and Leadership & Innovation and Enterprise. As a result of the DBS Graduate Attributes initiative, learners will demonstrate an awareness of transferable skills and their applicability in ‘real-life’ situations, projects undertaken and how they are applied in different circumstances so that they can take ownership of their own career management. They can develop realistic career plans and initiate and sustain professional networks and relationships to encourage opportunities for employment and internships. They will present themselves and their skills, attributes, experiences and qualifications, through effective job applications, CVs, interviews and voluntary activities. This will enable learners to develop the necessary skills to compete effectively for a broad range of employment, postgraduate study options and innovative opportunities available to them and further develop lifelong learning and continuous professional development. For e-portfolios to be effective, recording and using them has to take place over time. Hartnell-Young et al (2007) describe a set of e-portfolio processes that support learning. These processes imply a time component to learning with e-portfolios. Capturing evidence or reflecting are examples of such processes that occur over time. 69


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement

For students completing portfolios, some of the benefits of the e-portfolios included: • The importance of looking back, • The importance of emotion and emotional engagement, • A sense of achievement and • Reflective writing.

1.

Independent and Continuous Learning Learners will gain an understanding of independent learning, the ability to assess the work of oneself and others, and to identify one’s strengths and weaknesses. Learners will be able to organise oneself and perform as an autonomous, effective and independent learner. They will have the ability to relate to other people and function collaboratively in groups, including the development of appropriate interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence and adaptive expertise. They will develop an in-depth knowledge in their chosen field of study and the ability to apply that knowledge in practice. They will be prepared for lifelong learning in pursuit of personal and professional development. They will operate in an independent and self-directed manner, showing initiative to accomplish clearly defined goals including how to persuade others, demonstrating and communicating credible suggestions to achieve one’s aims and appreciate the importance of initiating new projects. Being able to handle difficult situations, develop resilience in the workplace and in other professional activities.; evaluating and critically reflecting on experiences.

2.

Communication Skills Learners will be able to communicate effectively across a range of contexts and develop an awareness that knowledge is not fixed or static, and that insights and skills can always be deepened and developed through inquiry, evaluation and reflection. Successful learners demonstrate effective writing and publishing skills, and can decide on appropriate forms and levels of communication. They also develop strong communication skills with which to explain ideas clearly to diverse audiences in a clear and succinct manner.

3.

I.T Proficiency The functional access, skills and practices necessary to become a confident, agile adopter of a range of technologies for personal, academic and professional use. To be able to use appropriate technology to search for high-quality information; critically to evaluate and engage with the information obtained; reflect on and record learning, and professional and personal development; and engage productively in relevant online communities. They will have developed competencies in information literacy.

4.

Problem Solving Skills Learners will be effective problem-solvers, capable of applying logical, critical and creative thinking to a range of problems. Solving problems effectively requires learners to identify, define and solve problems using logic, as well as lateral and creative thinking. In the process, learners arrive at a deep understanding of the topic area and construct new knowledge and understanding on which they are able to make decisions.

5.

Teamwork and Leadership Learners will develop and maintain effective relationships with colleagues and work in a collaborative environment. They will have an awareness of their own working style and that of others, and how they interact, understand and acknowledge others’ views, with a willingness to reflect on and critically appraise them. They will develop a deep understanding of leadership in team environments and recognise the strengths of team members and work effectively to achieve mutual goals in projects undertaken.

6.

Innovation and Enterprise for the Global Marketplace Learners will understand the role of innovation and creativity in the workplace. They will contribute to knowledge exchange and an awareness of the skills required for the development of entrepreneurial enterprises in the public and private sectors as well as understanding different cultural environments, including the business world. Learners will be able to demonstrate a global perspective and inter-cultural competence in their professional lives.

70


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement

To achieve these attributes the DBS Graduate should have the following transferrable skills: Team Working & Interpersonal Skills, Written Communication, Oral Communication, Analysing & Problem Solving, Personal Planning & Organising, Initiative & Creativity, Numerical Reasoning, Digital Literacy and a Foreign Language.

4. Preliminary Analysis The DBS Careers and Placement Service (CPS) team have conducted both external and internal research as part of the development of the ESP (Employability Skills Programme). The following provides a summary of findings derived from recent national industry reports and employer organisation representatives. From an internal perspective, CPS have engaged in programmatic reviews and supported the integration of the module into the School of Business and Law. CPS aims to create stronger links between academic staff, employers, students and student support teams. The following diagram provides us with a suggested shared vision for the School of Business & Law.

Commercially Aware

Effective Communication Skills

Business Development and Customer Focus

Confident Team Builders

Understanding and maximising the effectiveness of learning Needs Analysis

Innovation and Creativity

Project Management Leading People and Building Productive Relationships

Entrepeneurial Thinkers

Results Driven Managers / Leaders

4.1 IBEC Report The IBEC Education and Skills Survey Report (2010) provides us with the following direct feedback – ‘employers are now expecting higher education institutions to embed generic or employability skills more fully into their curricula. Findings also indicated the following information in relation to third level graduate skills: • Employers were less satisfied with graduates’ ‘ability to work autonomously’ expecting them to be better able to work on their own initiative, manage their time effectively and be responsible for themselves and their tasks. • Attitudinal skills and an approach to work that suggests enthusiasm and willingness to learn and develop were also highlighted as areas for improvement.

71


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement

4.2 Cut-e Employer Survey Results The following graph presents results from the Cut-e employer survey, undertaken in conjuction with DBS.

Key Graduate Competencies desired by Employers

4.3 Grad Ireland (2012) Hard Skills Hard Skills are those that are more readily accessible, observable, and technical

01

02

03

04

05

0

Research by GradIreland

Soft Skills Soft Skills are those that are more concerned with interpersonal skills and thus harder to measure

Research by GradIreland 01

72

02

03

04

05

0


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement

5. Conclusions The findings of this research conclude that the content, range of learning outcomes broadly meet the needs of DBS graduates and this is supported by the research available and is illustrated in figure 2 below. The modules are aligned at each level and provide a vertical development flow between levels. The comparative study of other offerings in Ireland and overseas would indicate that this suite of programmes is at least commensurate in content, focus and ambition. Our research highlighted a number of key points for tutors to bear in mind when introducing e-portfolios. Like all good educational practice, tutors need to be explicit in the ‘over time’ element of portfolio work; many students do not have this diachronic view of their learning. Encouraging longitudinal engagement with e-portfolio processes through formative activity is important. Students need to look back at events recorded in the first place. Also linked to this is the need for an activity that encourages the ‘looking back’ element such as a summative reflective statement. It needs to be personal and involve emotions. This means that our assessment practices and learning outcomes need to be aligned. This could be achieved by assessing criteria such as reflection or creativity. E-portfolios should be holistic in order to capture the mind, body and spirit students’ experiences which encompass the whole curriculum and beyond and relate to personal and professional real-life experiences. Dublin Business School Transferable Skills Programme Audit Tool Course Title: Employability Skills Modules

Course Code:

Employability Skill

Specified in learning outcomes (LO)

Sub-skills (if appropriate)

Oral communication

M1.2 LO4

Written Communication

ML1.1 LO2

Lecturers: various Taught

Practiced

Assessed

Level of proficiency aimed for

Examples of teaching and learning methods and/or tasks employed to develop skill

Level 6

Presentation, Role-Play meeting

Level 6

Academic Essay and Business Report

Level 6

Team presentation & project

Digital Literacy Team work

M1.2 LO4

Managing one’s own learning

Planning

M1 LO1 M3.1 LO1 M3.2 LO1

Level 6, 7 & 8

Decision making

Multi-tasking Time management Initiative & Creativity

M1.1 LO4

M1 LO6

Level 6, 7 & 8

M3.2 LO3

Level 8

Poster Presentation, E-Portfolio

Numerical Reasoning Analysing & Solving Problems Foreign Languages Personal Planning & Organisation

M1.1 LO5

Level 6

Employability in Action

Lifelong Learning: Learning for Life

Level 6

Level 7

M3.1

M3.2

Employability Skills

Innovation

M2.1 Learning to Learn

M2.2   Communication For Personal Success

M1.1  

M1.2

Financial Reporting Personal & Professional Progression

Level 8

Figure 2: Graduate Transferrable Skills

M3.3 Financial Accounting M2.3 Accounting

M1.3

Performance Management

M3.4 Cost Management M2.4 Maths and Statistics for Finance

  Advanced Financial Management (E)  

Exploring Strategy (E)

M3.5

M3.6

  Financial Management

Management

 

M2.5 Economic Perspectives

M1.4

Figure 3: Sample of Programme Architecture for BA (Hons) Accounting & Finance

M1.5

M2.6 Business for Accountants

M1.6

Taxation Systems

M3.7 Business Information Systems (E) M2.7

Auditing

M3.8 Business & Company Law (E) M2.8

Digital Computing

M1.7

73


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: The DBS Model of Employability and Student Engagement

References AHECS (Association of Higher Education Careers Services) Association of Higher Education Career Services http://www.ahecs.ie/ Australian Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (2000): ―Employer Satisfaction with Graduate Skills: Research Report Brown, G., “Higher Education: An International Perspective”, address to Colloquium on University Teaching and Learning: Policy and Practice, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, 1st – 2nd Dec 1998. CBI (2011), ―Education and Skills Survey 2011, Building for growth: business priorities for education and skills. Cut-e: http://www.cut-e.com/about-us/publications/ European Commission (2010), Flash Eurobarometer (No. 304), ―Employers‘ perceptions of graduate employability. GradIreland Sector Reports www.gradireland.com GradIreland (2011), Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey 2011 Hartnell-Young et al (2007) Impact study of e-portfolios on learning, Becta [online] http://partners.becta.org.uk/index. php?section=rh&catcode=_re_rp_02&rid=14007 HEA: From Transaction to Transition: Outcomes of the Conference on the Transition from Second to Third-Level Education in Ireland, December 2011 HEA: www.hea.ie/.../HEASubmissionGraduateCareersIrelandFinal.doc HETAC General Programme Validation Manual 2010 p28 IBEC (2010), Education and Skills Survey Tomorrow’s Skills towards a National Skills Strategy 5th Report Expert Group on Future Skills Needs 2007 Survey of Selected Multi-National Employers‘ Perceptions of Certain Graduates from Irish Higher Education - A Study for the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, the Higher Education Authority and Forfás December 2007 The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the Society for Human Resource Management: ―Are They Really Ready to Work? Employers’ perspectives on the basic knowledge and applied skills of new entrants to the 21st century U.S. workforce http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/education/latest-news/employers-say-graduates-cant-write-well-enough-2373669. html - John Walshe. Education Editor http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2013/0114/1224328802779.html - Sean Flynn Education to Employment - Designing a System that Works http://www.mckinsey.com/features/education_to_employment

74


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Taking the LEAD: Reflections on enhancing employability skills development?

Taking the LEAD: Reflections on enhancing employability skills development? Dr Jen Harvey and Dr Rachel O’Connor, Dublin Institute of Technology www.dit.ie/LEAD

Abstract The Hunt report (2010) emphasises the importance of undergraduate education providing students with the generic skills needed for effective engagement in society and in the workplace. In 2010, DIT established The Lead, Engage, Achieve, Develop (LEAD) module. The LEAD Module aims to recognise and award academic credit to the important learning that takes place outside the confines of formal academic study. Following an application and short-listing process, 21 students were selected from across the Institute for the pilot module. Three to four students were each assigned a module tutor and negotiated a personal action plan related to the development of their selected employability skills. Students were asked to maintain an online personal reflective blog. The module was assessed through the completion of a 2000 word Portfolio and associated evidence of their engagement in activities. An extensive evaluation was conducted as part of the module pilot and subsequently in 2012 further evaluation has taken place. The Module was felt by students to be both rewarding and challenging. In the data from the pilot evaluation several students reported difficulties in maintaining their reflective blog while others felt this aspect of the module had been more useful to them. This trend has continued, while some students enjoy the blogging process, some remain reticent to engage with the blogging medium. This presentation will report back on the evaluation study data from the pilot and the subsequent module rollout. It will also make recommendations from this work that are likely to be of interest to any staff exploring strategies to better support employability skills development across a diverse student cohort, and develop in students the skill of reflective learning.

Background The Hunt report (2010) emphasises the importance of undergraduate education in providing students with the generic skills needed for effective engagement in society and in the workplace. A recent FÁS study (Condon and McNaboe, 2011) on behalf of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) reported that an increasing number of learners are gaining education and training awards. While 85% of young (aged 25-34) third level graduates (NFQ 8 and above) in Ireland have been able to find employment, the decreasing job market has resulted in a greater competition for posts and a greater need for individuals to demonstrate that they possess the prerequisite skills that the employer seeks. It is generally recognised that the modern economy needs graduate skills to prosper and that those with Education qualifications (NFQ 8 and above) are most likely to be in employment (from the report, 92% were at work). However, the reality is that many new graduates will not gain employment that directly links to the academic content of their HE curriculum (see for example Bates et al.2006) It is interesting to note in a study, conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU, 2006), that the three key skills/abilities employers felt were most important in recent graduates were related to their possession of effective teamworking, critical thinking/reasoning and oral/written communication skills. Many HE institutions have begun to respond to the Hunt report’s (2010) recommendations by making the development of key skills/graduate attributes more explicit within programmes. For example, Dublin City University’s Generation 21 plan launched in September 2011, by President Prof Brian MacCraith, aims to ‘change the way the university prepares and shapes graduates for life and work in the 21st century’. All modules have been reviewed to map the outcomes from each programme and identify gaps: ‘It’s our responsibility to ensure we’ve done all we can to make sure they are developing the attributes that we know employers want today’. Whether there is need for institutional models of skills implementation or development through targeted initiatives depends to certain extent upon the institutional context. Fallows and Steven (2000) provide a useful set of case studies outlining different models. Yorke and Knight, (2006:2) point out that ‘There is a need to recognise that the co- and extra curricular achievements of students contribute to a graduate’s employability’ The Hunt report (2010) suggests that Higher Education institutes where appropriate ‘Recognise civic engagement of their students through programme accreditation’

75


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Taking the LEAD: Reflections on enhancing employability skills development?

Developing graduate attributes within the DIT: the foundation of LEAD For DIT, a better student experience equals a better graduate. With over 80 active Societies, 40 Clubs, a vibrant Studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Union as well as a growing culture of volunteering and involvement, DIT students are clearly very heavily engaged in a myriad of activities beyond the confines of the lecture hall, lab, or studio in their college community and beyond. One in three current DIT undergraduates is involved in volunteering activities. The LEAD module was developed as a collaborative enterprise to help recognise the high level of commitment demonstrated by students who take a leadership role within these extra-curricular and co-curricular activities as well as the personal and professional development skills that they gain through this engagement. The importance of providing an effective balance of the right learning outcomes is the key not only to successful graduates and the spirit of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;DIT Graduatenessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; but to the development of successful and fulfilled citizens. Our aim is to assist our students in realising their full potential and guide them to become exemplar DIT graduates: committed, connected and honoured to count themselves as DIT Alumni.

How does LEAD work? The module is designed to encourage, promote and support student development of a range of employability skills through taking a leadership role within extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. These activities could involve leadership roles in coordinating volunteering, peer mentoring, and participation in student societies, clubs and other organisations. In designing the LEAD module great care was taken over the type and number of employability skills that would be developed. The module asks students to chart the development of three core skills from a range of key employability skills. Through the assessment they have to demonstrate an understanding of these skills and provide evidence how they have developed them through their extra curricular activity in DIT and or their communities. The skills they choose from are: 1. Communication Skills 2. Teamwork/Working with others 3. Problem Solving 4. Initiative/Enterprise 5. Planning and Organising 6. Learning 7. Self Management 8. Technology These skills were adopted and agreed after careful consideration of UK and Australian models of best practice in the areas of Employability and graduate attribute policy (Australian DOEST (2006), ESECT (2005)).

How was the LEAD Pilot taught and the Learning outcomes achieved? The module learning outcomes were achieved through participation in three one-day workshops and three tutorials as part of a negotiated programme of extra-curricular, co-curricular and independent learning activities. The class was divided into 7 small groups of 3-4 students and each group assigned a tutor mentor. The module was completed over a four-month period. Each participant negotiated a personal development plan of activities with their tutor. This plan was reviewed during the module and then submitted as part of the module assessment. Students were also asked to gather evidence of their skills development and to reflect on their experiences as they progressed through the module by maintaining a personal blog. The module was assessed through the completion of a 2000 word reflective portfolio.

LEAD Pilot evaluation At the final session of the pilot module, students were asked to complete a short questionnaire. This was followed by a short focus group session. As this was a pilot initiative, one the main aims of the evaluation was to get feedback from students regarding their module experience and to make modifications for any future module runs. The questionnaire was designed around the module content order, structure, workshop delivery and support. We were particularly interested in exploring aspects related to the tutor /student mentoring process, blogging and the portfolio assessment.

76


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Taking the LEAD: Reflections on enhancing employability skills development?

General feedback Out of the total of 19 students who completed the module, sixteen completed the questionnaire. Over half of these students indicated that the main reason for taking the course had been to get recognition of their extra-curricular activities work over the years they had been a student. The opportunity the module provided to further develop their employability skills was also recognised. Interestingly, 50% commented that they felt the module experience was different to what they had expected. However, this was generally in relation to the amount of work involved and, more positively perhaps, the level of support provided. All respondents felt that the module was relevant to their needs and that adequate support was provided during the module. The majority felt that it was useful to have the notes and handouts available to them online, although two people admitted to never accessing the LEAD website. Twelve out of the sixteen respondents felt that there should continue to be a limit on the number of students who were able to take the module.

Feedback on the Module content and structure The allocation of a mentor and associated small group mentoring sessions were felt to have contributed substantially to the overall positive experience of the module. These sessions were described as being motivational and a useful way for everyone to check progress. The majority opinion was that next year the module should run from October to June. This ‘would give people time to settle into the year and finishing in April exams wouldn’t interfere with the blogging’ and it was ‘a period when clubs and societies do more activities’ The format of three workshops and two mentor meetings appeared to have worked well for the students as did the assessment method. During the focus group discussion there was a general feeling from the group that maintaining their blog was an onerous task, time consuming and not useful. However, over half the respondents in the survey questionnaire felt that maintaining a blog, although additional work, was helpful ‘in capturing events they may have forgotten details on otherwise’ ‘a great opportunity to think back and reflect on the whole year’ and ‘useful for capturing events’ ‘it really helped me to vent and evaluate things’ By way of contrast, some students commented that they ‘didn’t feel comfortable sharing thoughts online’ feeling ‘it was hard to motivate myself to sit down and do it’ ‘it was an extra thing to do, there is no need for it’ The selected Blogging software (Blogger www.blogger.com) seemed to cause additional concern. It was not seen to be ‘particularly user friendly’ ’It left me reluctant to log on’.

Most and least useful aspects of the module When asked which aspects of the module they felt were most and least useful, blogging was the most frequently mentioned in both categories (one third of respondents in each). Ten out of 16 students felt that taking the module had changed the way in which they undertook society and club activities. ‘yes it made me reflect more on events that happened hence changing the way I would do things’ ‘makes you think about the work you’ve done and what went well and what didn’t + improvements’ Predominantly the most enjoyable aspect of the module (mentioned by 9) was the interaction with others involved in the module ‘seeing how other people run societies/clubs and learning from their experience’, ‘developing my skills with a great bunch of people’. All the students responded both in the focus group and the questionnaire that they would recommend the module to someone else. ‘it’s a good way to develop your leadership skills + employability skills’ ‘yes you learn how to represent yourself which is an important skill’ ‘it’s a great to be acknowledged and to make contacts with the other society leaders’ ‘its going to be helpful when going to interview’ ‘definitely, it’s a great learning method’.

How was the LEAD 2011/12 taught and the Learning outcomes achieved? Of of the twenty-one, nineteen students who began the Pilot LEAD module received their LEAD award on September 23rd, 2011. The pilot provided a clear template for LEAD 2011/12. What was clear from the evaluation data is that aspects of the module needed to change to ensure the success and longevity of the award. Key areas were;

Student recruitment onto to LEAD including the number of places From discussions with students it was clear that demand for LEAD 2011/12 would far exceed the 20 limited fee-supported places on the LEAD award. To provide a fair selection process, an on-line application and interview process was agreed. The application process aimed to capture their past and future student leadership role within their extra/co curricular activities, their motivation to complete the module and whether they would have the opportunities to develop their selected three skills. It was hoped that this method would provide a clear picture of the student’s potential to get the most out of the module and, ultimately who should be enrolled. In the pilot, a number of students missed mandatory sessions and crucial training. This put pressure on the tutors, tutorials and the students to catch up on what was quite new material. The on-line application listed the dates of all mandatory sessions and students were asked if they could attend on those dates. Only students who indicated that they 77


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Taking the LEAD: Reflections on enhancing employability skills development?

could attend were invited for interview.

The number of one day workshops For the pilot the teaching was carried out over the course of three one-day workshops in half of one semester. This required a huge time commitment from both staff and students. Students found this problematic at times; there was no flexibility in the schedule. As a consequence of this feedback, it was agreed that LEAD 2011/12 would be a long thin module and the three full days be changed to two full days, and two half day sessions over a longer period of time e.g. October to June. This reduced the time pressures on both staff and students, and through the optional sessions students could focus their learning on their specific skills. The student’s different abilities for reflection The LEAD module has students from all colleges and all stages in their college careers. This does have an impact on the students’ experience of and ability to write reflectively. To help students achieve the required level of reflection necessary for professional development more emphasis had to go into the reflective skills training. LEAD 2011/2 has one and half full days training in reflection and writing reflectively. The one-day workshop is practical and needs based. For students who are still having difficulties an second optional reflective workshop is run.

The structure of the tutorials Both students and mentors agreed that the module would benefit from more structured tutorials. In the pilot the content of the tutorial was agreed between the mentors and the students. This meant a lot of tutorial time was spent negotiating content. In the 2011/12 the tutorials were structured to match the workshops. All tutorials were two hours long. 1. Tutorial one: reflection 2. Tutorial two: blogging and Portfolios’ 3. Tutorial three: Writing up

The need for greater continuous assessment As part of LEAD 2011 Students were asked to keep a weekly blog that would allow them to record their activities and reflect on their engagement. While some students really enjoyed blogging others found it difficult at times and felt a little awkward. As part of the assessment we need students to log their activities to demonstrate their independent learning and their Journey through the module. For LEAD 2011/12 we moved to Wordpress (see: www.wordpress.com) as recommended to us by the previous LEAD cohort. We also introduced associated work activities that were to be completed in tutorials. The purpose of which, was to help students assess their progress and for the mentors to provide additional support when required.

The development of SEAD and a greater emphasis on ‘Leadership’ in LEAD The success of the LEAD award left us with a conundrum! The students clearly articulated that they wanted the number of places on LEAD to be limited and that the emphasis of the module should be on Leadership. It was agreed that a further module was needed that would recognise the high level of commitment that many students put into extra-curricular and co-curricular activities as well as the personal development that can be gained through this engagement. However this module would emphasis not their Leadership but the programme specific employability skills they gain. The SEAD (Succeed, Engage, Achieve, Develop) module will be piloted through the College of Arts and Tourism. The SEAD module also aims to recognise and award credit to the important learning that takes place outside the confines of formal academic study and which contributes to an overall enhanced student experience. In addition, it aims to provide participants with the skills and knowledge to enable them to consider details and critically reflect on the ways in which they plan, develop and achieve a range of programme specific employability skills though engagement with extracurricular activities.

78


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Taking the LEAD: Reflections on enhancing employability skills development?

Lessons from LEAD 2011/2012 and LEAD 2012/13 A total of 21 Students started LEAD 2011/12, and 12 finished the Module. Due to the demand for places in the 2011/12 rollout, students had to attend mandatory sessions, if they did not attend they could not complete module. Unfortunately on a small number of occasions students did not attend and therefore could not continue. This has had an impact on retention and completion in 2011/12. 17 Students started LEAD 2012/13. 13 students are due to submit their assessments on the 31st of May 2013. Of the 4 students who have left this year 3 were due to illness or family commitments, and 1 student felt that the commitment was too big for them at the time. No student left for non-attendance. In the 2012 evaluation data the majority of students who completed the module, liked the current structure and format of LEAD and would recommend it to a friend. What was also clear is that the Students’ wanted further emphasis on ‘Leadership’ within the module. Therefore as part of LEAD 2012/13 a ‘Leadership’ session facilitated by an expert in the area was developed and this will continue for 2014.

Conclusions The pilot run of the LEAD module was planned and delivered within a very tight timeframe. The quality of the work produced by the students, the initial evaluative data and feedback from staff and the level of interest in LEAD 2011/12 provided a an invaluable template to work from. The pilot and the subsequent modules have been successful on a number of levels and various factors have contributed to this. Firstly, we were able to bring together a group of DIT staff with a shared interest in making the initiative work. Within the group there was a range of key skills, knowledge and expertise that we were able to draw upon. In addition, other DIT staff could provide train the trainer support for example related to reflective practice, eportfolio design and personal development planning. Secondly, we were able to convince various key individuals within the DIT that the initiative was both worthwhile and would work. These individuals ranged from a local College Dean to a local Head of school and to registration officer. All of these staff contributed in different ways in making sure that the module was integrated within existing core systems. Thirdly, we were able to identify and encourage a group of students with the relevant leadership skills and learning opportunities to enrol on the modules and to make it work well. One student commented on the evaluation form: ‘Thanks for the opportunity, I hope I don’t let you down! Finally, we have developed a scalable framework for a module that works effectively in supporting the attainment of our learning outcomes. The uniqueness of the DIT approach is the explicit link between the skills being developed and their chosen set of 3 Leadership skills combined with the way in which the skills are evidenced and assessed within their portfolio. We have been encouraged by the level of support we have had to continue this initiative into the future both internally and externally. Currently we have the financial support to run another module but in the long term we are hoping to secure sponsorship to cover fees. By way of one final endorsement: “Meaningful volunteering experience enables students to develop and demonstrate a range of core skills highly valued by employers: from problem solving to leadership to communication skills. Undertaking DIT’s LEAD module also demonstrates motivation and commitment to active citizenship and will certainly enhance your CV. I highly recommend it.” Turlough O’ Sullivan - former Director General of IBEC For more information on the LEAD module please check out www.dit.ie/LEAD

79


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Taking the LEAD: Reflections on enhancing employability skills development?

References Kubler, K and Forbes, P (2005) Health Sciences and Practice: Health Studies Student Employability Profile[Financed by the Enhancing Student Employability Coordination Team of the Higher Education Academy (ESECT), The Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) and 12 of the Subject Centres in the Higher Education Academy Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN)] DOEST, Australian Government (2006) Employability Skills from Framework to Practice Bates P, Tyers C, Loukas G (2006) The Labour Market for Graduates in Scotland SE1726, Futureskills Scotland, April http://www.employment-studies.co.uk/pubs/summary.php?id=se1726 Fallows, S. and Steven C. (2000) Integrating key skills in higher education: employability, transferable skills and learning for life. Kogan page. London Hunt, C. (2011) National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, Report of the Strategy Group, available from http://www. hea.ie/en/node/1303 Last accessed 18October Yorke, M. and Knight, P. (2006), Embedding employability into the curriculum, No. 3 of the ESECT/LTSN Generic Centre “Learning and Employability” series. York: Higher Education Academy MacCraith B. (2011) University plans to make its students model graduates, Irish Times, 8September 2011 http://www. irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2011/0908/1224303702056.html Condon N and McNaboe J (2011) Monitoring Ireland’s Skills Supply - Trends in Education and Training Outputs. annual report produced by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit of FÁS on behalf of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. Available from http://www.skillsireland.ie/publications/2011/title,8222,en.php

Biographies Dr. Jen Harvey is the Head of DIT’s Learning Teaching and Technology Centre (LTTC). She has many areas of interest and expertise, including ELearning Research and Development, E-Portfolios, Education and Technology and Training and Education Dr. Rachel O Connor is the Research and Project officer at DIT Campus Life. She has many areas of interest and expertise, including Student Engagement, The First Year Experience and Transition, Student Satisfaction/Engagement research.

80


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning? Dr Michael Ryan, Martin Fitzgerald, Bridget Kirwan & Marie Walsh, LIT Tipperary

Abstract Why did LIT-Tipperary (formerly Tipperary Institute) prioritise personal development as a mandatory module on all its full-time undergraduate programmes when it opened as a Higher Education Development Institute in Tipperary in 1999? How did this innovative departure in Higher Education subsequently lead to the development of degree programmes - which now contain an entire stream of human development modules? What is the psychological and philosophical rationale for such modules? Do the learning outcomes associated with these modules contribute to holistic growth for students and finally what challenges have emerged throughout this pedagogical journey? Responding to these questions will form the basis for this paper. The paper will integrate literature from: the broad field of human development including: Philosophy of Education, Adult Education and Human Psychology with a particular focus on the sub-discourse of care in educational environments. Findings from a recent student evaluation will be provided to support the claim that a curriculum in Human Development does contribute to holistic growth for students.

Introduction The rationale for the introduction of a mandatory module across all undergraduate programmes in Tipperary Institute (now-LIT-Tipperary) in 1999, was anchored in the declared mission of a unique development institute which espoused a core belief; that all development begins with the individual and ‘the enablement of one’s potential to be the best that one can be’. Personal development staff members were recruited to the Department of Sustainable Rural Development, thus reflecting an ecologically sound vision of education for sustainable development with human capacity building at its core. The sustainable development goal was one of balanced decision making for long term development across social, economic and environmental domains. Within this vision, human capacity building was intrinsic to wellbeing, within family, community, society and economy. In the initial years, a mandatory personal development module included three strands as outlined below and Personal Development staff developed and delivered this module to all department programmes across the institute.

Original Personal Development Module

Personal Effectiveness

Communication

Groupwork

Figure 1 Original Personal Development Module

In designing a programme such as this in the context of Level 6-8 full-time programmes the process was informed by: publications in relation to Future Skills Needs (Forfas), theoretical frameworks from Psychology (Adler and Jung) Group Work (Belbin, Tuckman and Jensen, Katzenbach & Smith and Adair) and Communication (DeVito & Hargie) which created a framework for programme development in the early years based on three strands. 81


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

However following the success of this module and an extensive period of programmatic review in 2004-2005, the then personal development team in collaboration with programme leaders across institute programmes, developed a further suite of modules to: • fulfil the needs of an expanded programme offering; • embed the associated learning outcomes across the duration of degree programmes and; • customise the content to suit the needs of specific cognate areas. This expanded suite of modules now includes: personal effectiveness, interpersonal communication, group dynamics & teamwork, facilitation skills & professional development. The learning outcomes for these modules (achieved in participative and constructivist style workshops) relate to knowledge and competency in: self-awareness, self–esteem, emotional intelligence, stress & conflict management, social psychology listening and feedback, leadership, creativity and problem solving, presentation skills, group-work skills, reflection & critical thinking. The sample flowchart below, demonstrates how these modules are now embedded in two quite different degree programmes. B.A. (Hons) Social and Community Studies

B.Sc. in Creative Multimedia

Year 1

Personal Effectiveness (10 credits)

Interpersonal Development (5 credit)

Year 2

Group Work Theory and Practice (10 Credits)

Teamwork (5 Credit)

Year 3

Facilitation Skills (10 Credits)

Professional Development (5 Credit)

Year 4

Professional Development (5 Credits)

Figure 2 Human Development Streams within two different degree programme

A critical factor throughout this period of expansion and programme development was the existence of a dedicated programme team. This team originally known as: the personal development team (nicknamed the touchy feely team by some colleagues; a metaphor we will return to), engaged with staff and students across three different departments. The team officially formed the Centre for Education and Developing Human Potential (CEDHP) in 2007. The design of the human development modules and the establishment of the CEDHP were informed by the team’s expertise from within: psychology, education, organisational behaviour, training, community development and applied human sciences. Currently two of the five-member team have doctorates in education and adult education while two other members are currently completing doctorates in social science and psychology. The CEDHP team continues to be a self-directed team (in the real meaning of that concept) and is a community of practice demonstrating commitment to: collective engagement, the co-creation of knowledge, negotiation of key learning outcomes for all modules, the development of shared learning resources and the harnessing of collegial support and expertise. The team has been relatively successful in promoting the human capacity building mission across LIT-Tipperary’s degree programmes and has championed both the social and economic goals of education in its advocacy for such modules.

Psychology & Philosophy of Our Teaching & Learning Teaching is a paradoxical profession (Hargreaves 2003). On the one hand teachers are expected to develop human skills and capacity among students to prepare them for the knowledge society. At the same time teachers are expected to “mitigate and counteract many of the immense problems that knowledge societies create, such as excessive consumerism, loss of community and widening gaps between rich and poor” (Hargreaves, 2003, p.1). In the context of the Human Development modules taught in LIT Tipperary, the complexities of this paradox emerge explicitly as part of the day to day classroom interaction and raises challenging questions for both teachers and students in the context of reconciling the social and economic goals of education. Currently the five full-time CEDHP staff collaborate to support a deep learning experience and to facilitate personal growth and development for participants. Centre members are committed to the importance of nurturing capital within educational environments (Lynch et al. 2007) and the centrality of inter-human relationship as a philosophy in education (Buber, 2004; Barnett 2007; McElhinney 2007 & Clouder 2009). The teaching and learning dynamic is strengthened by the twin pillars of rights and responsibilities within democratic learning spaces of mutual trust and interdependence. Associated visions of education have been explored in doctoral research studies by CEDHP members at LIT-Tipperary (see: Fitzgerald 2009; Ryan 2010, & Kirwan 2013).

Humanistic Psychology The overall rationale for the human development modules - is rooted in the work of Humanistic Psychologists such as: Adler, Jung, Maslow, Rogers and Fromm who recognized the human capacity for change, growth and flourishing throughout life (marking a departure from the more negative perspective of the Freudian perspective). These humanist psychologists believed that an individual’s ultimate goal is to reach their full potential. (See O’Brien 2013, p.30-32) The modules are 82


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

also influenced by more contemporary theorists from Positive Psychology (Seligman, Diener and Csikszentmihalyi) whose empirical research highlights optimum human functioning, wellbeing and the achievement of full human potential. The human development team members therefore seek in their teaching to embrace a psychological frame of optimism and encouragement toward student becoming; ‘of enabling students to be the best that they can be’ and of being enablers of holistic growth and development. Carl Roger’s ‘psychology of becoming a fully functioning person’ (as outlined by Gross 2009, p.745) is of central importance and provides the ontological basis for overall learning outcomes from a social perspective. According to Rogers, the fully functioning person includes: • being open to experience (able to accept reality and negotiate various feelings) • being able to embrace existential living (live in the here and now and not be a prisoner of the past or frightened by the future), • being able to trust oneself (doing what feels right and being connected with our self-actualizing potential) • being aware of our freedom to make rational choices and of taking responsibility for those choices • being creative: regenerating ourselves and contributing to the self-actualisation of others. The organisation of a conference entitled Celebrating Living – A journey of Discovery by the human development team over a decade ago (Ceiliuradh 2002) and the post conference publication (Ryan, Gleeson & Kirwan, 2003) gave deep expression to an active psychology of the fully functioning human person. Keynote speakers including: Dr. Michael D. Higgins, Dr. Tony Humphreys, Dr. John McKenna, Prof Aidan Moran, and others gave living voice to a psychology of hope and human agency in the search for meaning and connection during Celtic Tiger Ireland.

Teaching & Learning: a constructivist pedagogy of collaboration, care & reflection? Our teaching and learning is firmly positioned in the social constructivist school (Vygotsky & Sociocultural learning theory) but also embraces many of the values of adult education particularly those of: care, collaboration, being, becoming, authenticity, commitment and passion (Barnett 2007, p.168). There is also an emphasis on the collaborative nature of learning and recognition of cultural and social context. Class groupings are usually no larger than 25 and learning is facilitated as an active process, where knowledge is constructed and negotiated based on its fit with past experiences and cultural factors. The learning process in this context is more than the assimilation of new knowledge. The creation of a safe learning community is integral where a climate of trust is strengthened by group ground rules negotiated by participants. This provides what Joyce, Weil and Calhoun (2004) characterise as: family based models of education with safe democratic spaces of trial, error and exploration. It encourages participants to challenge their own assumptions and to interrogate new theories and frameworks for their fit with their personal reality. This vision of education challenges the teacher to cede space and authority to the student in the teaching and learning process and encourages a move from teacher focused teaching to learner focused learning and generative dialogue. (See: Isaccs 2008; Hodge et al 2011 & Kirwan 2013). There is also a mandatory 80% minimum attendance requirement demonstrating the commitment to a physically present, psychologically engaged and situated learning community (despite current temptations toward more blended learning options facilitated by virtual learning environments such as Moodle/Blackboard etc). The student profile for some modules includes a blend of mature and post Leaving Cert students. This creates a really interesting teaching and learning dynamic in relatively small group sizes, where levels of engagement, motivation and the process of learning itself are quite complex –a finding also noted by McCune et al (2010). In this diverse learning context, we seek to create what Freire (1998,p.3) called ‘a pedagogy of freedom’ creating affective and effective learning spaces, attended to with an ethic of care; “teaching that requires seriousness, ethical self-monitoring and discipline…a teacher always learning, who is both joyful and rigorous.” CEDHP staff members espouse and practice what O’ Brien (2013, p.235-236) profiles as the Person Centred Practice of: listening, assertiveness, being warm and caring, being non-judgemental, displaying tolerance, patience, empathy and acceptance. The departure point for all teaching and learning embraces Martin Buber’s, (1925 & 2004) ‘I-thou’ contract of mutual regard, openness, acceptance & holistic dialogue.

83


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

Reflective Practice & Life - long learning Another key component of the philosophical framework for the human development modules is based on that of the Reflective Practitioner influenced by the seminal work of Donald Schon (1987) and subsequently developed in educational pedagogy as reflected in the work of: Brookfield (1995), Moone (2003), Korthagen (2004), Parker (2007) & Fitzgerald (2010). This emerging model has at its heart the objective of continuous improvement through reflection in action. The desired outcome in this approach is to instil in students a commitment to a journey that may take them through incremental stages or cycles of personal and professional development. This focus on a life – long learning commitment, is fundamental to the realization of human becoming or optimum human functioning.

The Reflection and Improvement Dynamic practice Unconscious

refinement

Competence Conscious

awareness

Competence Conscious Incompetence

Unconscious Incompetence

Reflection Jump to first page

Figure 3 Cycles of Reflection and continuous improvement

Throughout the programme key frameworks for human development are explored with student participants whereby they are enabled to engage with practical models that can enhance their human wellbeing and personal capacity. These frameworks include: • Self-Awareness (Luft, Ingham 1955) & Myers Briggs Personality Type Inventory: 1962 • Emotional Intelligence Competency Frameworks – (Daniel Goleman & Reuven Barron: 1997) • Interpersonal Communication – Interpretive Model of Meaning – (Devito, Hargie and Johnson) • Conflict Management – (Kilmann: 1977 & Johnson models: 1993) • Teamwork/Group work – (Tuckman & Jensen:1977, John Adair: 2011, Belbin:1981, Dimmock and Kass, Katzenbach and Smith) • Personal Effectiveness - (Various frameworks for goal setting, problem solving, decision making, creativity, negotiation and cultural diversity) • Professionalism (Korthagen 2004)

Assessment For and Of Learning Throughout the programme, students are exposed to the theory and practice of best principles of assessment. The formative domain of on-going and continuous assessment contains a wide variety of assessment types reflecting multiple intelligence theories (Gardner 1983) and acknowledgement of different ways of learning, knowing and assessment. The modules are typically 100% continuous assessment. There is a wide variety of formative continuous assessment. These include: individual and group presentations, group projects, metaphor analysis, problem based learning (PBL), reflective portfolios and skill demonstrations. Assessment for learning facilitates the three Es’ – expansion, experimentation and embedding. The following best practice principles for assessment guide the overall approach. 1. Setting and sharing the learning outcomes for the class 2. Sharing the criteria for success 3. Providing feedback that captures current levels of learning; redefines the learning goals and offers guidance about closing the gap between learning objectives and achievement. 84


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

Students are also encouraged to find a balance between process and product assessment and to reflect on the possibilities for deep learning episodes where an overly zealous approach may be inappropriate; â&#x20AC;&#x153;Not everything that counts is countable and not everything that is countable counts.â&#x20AC;? (Einstein). Deep learning demands learner activity and interaction with others within a well-structured knowledge base - i.e. where content is taught in integrated wholes and where knowledge is required to be related to other knowledge (Gibbs, 1992). Longworth (2003) identifies characteristics of a learning society where learning is accepted as a continuing activity throughout life and learners take responsibility for their own progress; Assessment confirms progress rather than brands failure. The common ground between all of these perspectives is that they must lead to and inform effective learning (Race 2006) and promote critical perspectives, (Brookfield, 2007, p. 15). The assessment framework within the Human Development modules in LIT Tipperary is designed to allow students the reflective space to critically evaluate their own understanding. In particular, the balance between developing applied professional and vocational skills and academic knowledge has been carefully and rigorously maintained.

Student & Staff Perspectives: our modules & their potential for holistic growth. So do the above psychological and philosophical approaches which underpin our pedagogy, lead to positive holistic growth for students? The following themes emerged from a thematic analysis of the end of term module evaluations (2012-2013) for six human development type modules across three different departments namely; Business, Education and Social Science, School of Art & Design and Computing. The evaluations represent 200 student questionnaire responses. It is important to note here that these evaluations were the official end of semester module evaluations conducted without specific reference to this paper but nonetheless directly relevant. Ten important themes emerged when this qualitative data was collated and analysed (See Thematic Overview - Figure 4 & representative student response â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Figure 5). Themes 1-5 emerged as the major recurring themes and themes 6-9 were considered significant but less frequent in occurrence. Theme 10 presented in the narrative chart provides some insights into the overall learning environment as experienced by students.

9. Career Skills & Interviews

8. Meetings & Report Writing

1. Increased Self Awareness

2. Improved Group Capacity

The Student Perspective & Key Themes

3. Conflict Negotiation Stress & Emotional Int.

4. Leadership Listening Multiculturalism

7. Ethics & Values

6. Presentation Skills and Confidence

Figure 4 Emergent Themes from Student Evaluations

5. Self as a Professional & Reflective Practice

85


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

Sample Student Responses Demonstrating Evidence of Holistic Development? Increased Self Awareness

Presentation Skills & Confidence

“MBTI [Myers-Briggs Type Indicator] helped me understand who I am. Deeper levels of self-awareness are now happening.”

“It improved my presentation skills immensely. Being able to present in front of an audience. Getting such useful feedback from fellow students and lecturer. I know different styles of presenting. The thoughts of having to do oral presentations frightened the life out of me. Interpersonal Communication changed all that. I overcame a fear. Thanks to your advice, methods and encouragement – I managed to do two presentations in second semester. For this reason above all others my first year in LIT-Tipperary has been a success for me.”

“I understand my own strengths and weaknesses. I learned a lot about myself and how I can irritate others. I got in touch with my inner self. Assertiveness training was very useful. I learned about the impact of personality type on professional behaviour.” “Knowing and understanding different learning styles was great.”

Improved Group-work capacity “I understand better individual behaviour in groups and some of the stuff from social psychology about group influence. The Belbin team roles were very useful. I liked PBL as it furthered my understanding of strengths and weaknesses in a team. We got valuable experience for the future and the pressure of jobs after a degree. We learned how to communicate and interact with a real client. The group work module helps one work better in a group. There were real opportunities for group-work and useful sharing of ideas.”

Managing Conflict, Negotiating, Managing Stress & Emotional Intelligence “Conflict management/negotiation skills reaching win/ win solutions was really helpful.” “I loved the Kilmann and Johnson models – very useful.” “Being trained in emotional intelligence is very worthwhile especially recognising emotional hijack and what to do in those situations.” “The Stress management workshop was really useful” “The constant skills audit made me very aware of my own skills level” “Assertiveness training was very useful and has helped me with my personal life”

Leadership, Listening & Multiculturalism “The models of leadership were very useful. Understanding how we can have different leadership styles was helpful. Observing these styles in our group projects was very interesting. Listening and giving feedback and their importance was great. I have new skills there. I loved the session on Multiculturalism and how it changed my perception of travellers.”

Self As Professional

86

“Has given me so many useful tools for professionalism. Has equipped me with a lot of the insights I need to care for myself as a professional-so that I can be strong for others. I know what professionalism means and the importance of reflection. Brilliant knowledge of professionalism was achieved through the values exercises. I now understand professionalism as a key part of community work. Korthagen’s model is really useful and helped me make sense of my identity as a professional. It’s when you do this module that you realise how useful the whole stream has been.”

Ethics & Values “Helped me develop a sound ethical framework from my own values and those developed throughout the programme.” “ The ethics of care confirmed my alignment with feminist thinking.” “I loved the different models of professionalism and the ethics of each.” “Ethics and community development are very linked.”

Meetings & Report Writing “Everything about meetings and the fact that we all had to chair at least one meeting. I understood that the core message has to be spelt out and got from the meeting. I discovered more about myself and how I am at meetings.” “Writing reports and understanding formal report layouts was quite useful.” “Report writing was very useful for all my other modules.”

Career Skills “The career planning CVs and Interviews was all really good. Completing a professional CV was great. Interview feedback was very encouraging to me as a mature student as I never had a formal interview before. The interview experience was gruelling but fantastic for my skill development. Great insight into career pathways and the guest speakers were really helpful.”

The Overall Learning Environment “The learning environment created was very positive. Some of the exercises were really good like the toxic waste exercise and values exercises. Class was fun and interesting. Something different was brought to class each day. I loved this stream and this module was a great one to finish with. It was a good experience and always interesting. There was good course content and there were very good readings on Moodle. Nice pace and I liked the guest speakers from the youth and community development sector. The quality of student support available was very good. The lecturer-student relationship was very good.”

Figure 5 Representative Student Response


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

It is apparent that across a wide range of domains – student responses suggest that learning outcomes around holistic growth are being achieved. These outcomes range from: the profoundly ontological, where self - awareness & self – knowing are increasingly evident; to values development, skills enhancement and interpersonal capacity in a range of professional domains. It is also evident from an evaluation carried out during a 2010 programmatic review process, that the human development modules featured very highly with graduates who were asked to evaluate the strengths of the programme they had completed at Tipperary Institute from an employability point of view. Further external validation is also evident from placement supervisor reports which frequently cite our students’ soft skills and interpersonal capacity as a notable indicator of their adaptability in different workplace environments. There were also a very small number of less positive student observations regarding the modules. These included: a view that there was too much content, that some of the readings were too long or that the assessments took a lot of time and that some modules had too much theory. One student wrote that she did not enjoy group work and that she liked to work on her own. Another raised the perennial issue of group assessment and the unmotivated students (See Plastow et al, 2010). Others offered feedback that maybe three hour workshops were too long. The CEDHP Team also carried out a collaborative audit of their own perspectives gained from facilitation of these modules for over a decade. The scope of this paper does not allow for an extensive analysis of these themes but collectively – they suggest that learning outcomes of holistic growth are real and substantial. Staff collectively agreed that satisfaction was gained from: • embedding learning •

building on student lifework & enabling their development

building student relationships & improving their interpersonal capacity

knowing that our frameworks work and deliver on holistic development

the impact of powerful assessment in delivering and evaluating learning outcomes

discursive and critical thinking

positive feedback from external examiners and placement supervisors (See a more detailed account in Appendix 1)

Within these accounts there is a strong vocational register including: ‘metaphors of service, efficacy, inner calling and making a difference’ and ‘ecological post-modernism constructions of ‘holism’ where one’s identity – both personal and professional is forged in the rendering of service’ (Ryan, 2010, p.190-193).

Current Challenges & Concluding Perspectives Despite the positive outcomes reported in the previous section, staff have collectively also identified some significant challenges facing the human development agenda. For the purposes of this paper we will conclude with a focus on just three of these.

1.

Emerging Tension between Economic and Social Goals of Education Baker and Foote (2003) noted the challenges inherent in reconciling the social and economic goals of education and Pring (2005, p.196) feared the severance of education from moral discourse in what he calls “a theory of effectiveness which ignores the question – effective for what? We share the concerns of Noddings (2006), Lynch (2007), Grummel et al, (2009) & Fitzmaurice (2010), that the centrality of care and caring in educational environments at a systems level is increasingly indifferent to the affective domain. We strongly support the creation of nurturing capital in education and endorse Lynch’s contention (2007, p.3) that “this neoliberal self also needs “preparation for a relational life as an independent, caring and other centred human being with distinct capacity for love, care and solidarity work.” Similarly, Ball (2008, p.16-22) noted: the denial “of the primacy of human relationships in the production of value,” the business model and its associated lexicon of targets, productivity and training for economic advantage. He challenged the use of insidious policy technologies to produce a new set of roles, identities and relationships between educator and student (2008, p.4243) whereby the ecology of education is being changed and the social purposes of education are being sidelined. The current climate in Irish higher education characterised by massification and reduction in resources, challenges the viability of the broadly humanist approach rendering the human capital model for economic gain as the prevailing discourse (See Kirwan 2013). In this unfriendly policy climate it can be difficult to promote the human development agenda and in the context of the ongoing economic recession – there is currently a political and 87


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

economic discourse prioritising the hard skills of Science, Technology Education & Maths. Interestingly however, there has also been a substantial rationale from industry for soft skills to include: adaptability, critical thinking, problem solving & creativity. (See Grad Ireland Survey & Importance of Soft Skills for Graduate Employment, 2010; Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) 2011; IBEC Education & Skills Survey 2010 & Eurobarometer survey on Employers’ perception of graduate employability 2010). Therefore, human development modules which serve economic interests, can provide a pragmatic rationale for their inclusion within Higher Education.

2.

The Advocacy Dilemma It is likely, due to what Mortiboys (2005), called ‘emotionally intelligent teaching’ that members of the human development team frequently find themselves being advocates for students in a variety of socio-academic contexts. This advocacy role is increasingly apparent and challenging as more streamlined business models of education colonise the higher education landscape including reductions in student services. The collective vocational heart of CEDHP staff readily recognises the negative impact of many system wide efficiencies at a human level for students. Therefore our advocacy is continually challenged in what Freire (1998) called ‘limit situations’ requiring agency and courage. We must still continue however to ‘author our own words, our own actions, our own lives rather than playing a scripted role at great remove from our own hearts’ (Parker, 2007, p. 34- paraphrased). Korthagen (2004, p.15) reminds us of how our professional and vocational identity takes on the form of a gestalt; an unconscious body of needs, images, feelings, values and behavioural tendencies. This gestalt is not immune from the influences of the commodification discourse – so unless our agency and authorship are strongly anchored and validated in a counter discourse of vocational values with care at its centre, it too is susceptible to ongoing denudation. Currently we find ourselves with ever increasing teaching loads and a whole raft of administration duties. Maintaining the energy to consistently be an advocate is increasingly a real challenge.

3. Challenges posed by the subject matter and the self-reflective engagement required Many students who come to third level directly from secondary school bring with them certain expectations of anonymity, freedom to engage or disengage at a variety of levels and freedom to be left to oneself. In the human development modules, there is however an expectation of participation and engagement. Some students feel uncomfortable with this and require a lot of reassurance and psychological scaffolding. In some of the programmes the first module is just one semester in duration – so the practicality of being able to support and affirm such students in just twelve weeks is a difficult task. Similarly some mature students carry residual fears from their formal education experiences and seek reassurance and affirmation. The expectation of a commitment to selfreflection in initial modules remains challenging despite on-going attempts to improve our teaching capacity in this area and create effective models for so doing. There are therefore many human capacity competencies required from Human Development staff including: emotional intelligence, mindfulness in the learning environment and insightful observation and reflection throughout.

Conclusion In conclusion, the human development story of LIT-Tipperary is an interesting and complex one with many positive outcomes for staff and students alike. This paper has established that our modules do contribute to holistic growth for students including the development of many life skills. The expansion of these modules into programme streams also reflects a positive sign of adaptation, integration and expansion. So in the final analysis are we working from the inside out; from touchy feely to optimum human functioning? We collectively believe that the vast majority of students come to us with all the resources they need within themselves to be fully functioning human beings and that we enable them to release that potential. Writing and researching this paper has helped us take stock of our achievements and reflect more fully on the achievements and challenges that still prevail. In addition to the three challenges briefly outlined, others have been identified and require ongoing negotiation. These relate to: human psychology as a discipline and our positioning within it and; more pragmatic questions of timetabling, mandatory attendance and motivation for a small number of students. In conclusion, we are now rarely referred to as: the touchy feely team - possibly signifying a positive progression in ‘collegial consciousness.’ There now appears to be a broader validation of our work from: colleagues, students, graduates and externally from important stakeholders in industry and academia. Their feedback acknowledges a longer term process of holistic growth and development for our graduates, who hopefully continue the journey of becoming fully functional human beings.

88


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

Biographies Michael Ryan B.A, H.dip, M.Sc. (Education & Training), Ed.D. (Teacher Education). Lectures in Education, Human Development, Social & Community Studies, (Social Policy, Sociology & Professionalism) and Media Writing. His doctoral thesis explored the policy-practice navigation between: pedagogy, professionalism and vocationalism in Teacher Education. Research interests include: Pedagogy & Curriculum Development, Capacity Building & Leadership.

Bridget Kirwan B.A, B.Mgmt. Sc., M.Ed., & Training., Dip. Q. Mgmt. Lectures in: Human Development, Organisational Behaviour and Social and Community Studies. Her doctoral study explored the role of Trust for mature students in HE environments. Interested in the interface between individuals and organisations and on trust as an enabler of development and change.

Martin Fitzgerald B.A, H.dip, M.Ed. & PhD. Lectures in: Education, Human Development and Leadership. His doctoral study was an investigation into critical thinking and pedagogy among non-traditional learners. His background is grounded in education both at second and third level. Primary interests are in the area of teaching and learning and promoting best practice among teachers at all levels.

Marie Walsh B.A, MSc Lectures in Human Development, Social Psychology & Creative Multimedia. Interested in Group Dynamics, Group Process, Work Place Learning. Worked as Programme Leader for Inspire for three years. Currently studying for a Ph.D. in Social Science and investigating transitions from third level to the workplace.

Acknowledgements The above authors wish to acknowledge the wonderful contributions of their current colleague: Catherine Ann O’ Connell and former members of the CEDHP at LIT-Tipperary: Donal Crosse (R.I.P), Marian Gleeson, Kathleen Fanning, Colin Bergin, Ailbhe Harington and Niall Heenan.

References Adair, J. (2011). Effective teambuilding: How to make a winning team. Pan. Baker, M. & Foote, M. (2003). Teaching despite the knowledge society: The end of ingenuity. In Hargreaves, A., Teaching in the knowledge society: Education in the age of insecurity (pp.72-95). New York: Teachers College. Ball, S.J. (2008). The education debate. Bristol: The Policy Press. Barnett, R. (2007). A Will to Learn. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press. Barron, D. D. (1997). Keeping Current: Emotional Intelligence and the School Library Media Specialist. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 14(3), 48-50. Beard, C., Clegg, S. and Smith, K. (2007) Acknowledging the affective in higher education. British Educational Research Journal, 33(2): 235-252. Belbin, M. (1981). Management Teams, Why succeed or fail? MacMillan, London. Brookfield, S. (2005). Learning democratic reason: The adult education project of Jürgen Habermas. Teachers College Record, 107 (6), 1127-1168. Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Buber, M. (2004). I and Thou. London: Continuum. Clouder, L. (2009) Being responsible: Students’ perspectives on trust, risk and work-based learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(3): 289-301. Dunne, J. (2005). What’s the good of education? In W. Carr, Philosophy of Education (pp.145-160). The Routledge Falmer 89


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

Reader. London: Routledge. Devito, J. (2010). The Essentials of Human Communication. Pearson. Fitzgerald, M. (2010). Becoming Critical Beings: A Thematic Study Exploring The Development, Learning, and Teaching Of A Group Of Non Traditional Learners. Doctoral thesis submitted to Department of Humanities and Applied Social Sciences, University of Glamorgan, Wales. Fitzmaurice, M. (2010). Considering teaching in higher education as a practice. Teaching in Higher Education, 15: 45-55. Freire, P. (1998). Teachers as cultural workers: Letters to those who dare teach. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Freire, P. (1998). Pedagogy of freedom: Ethics, democracy and civic courage. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield publishers. Freire, P. (2005). Teachers as cultural workers: Letters to those who dare teach (expanded edition). Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Gardner, Howard (1983), Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, New York: Basic Books. Gibbs, G. (1992). Improving the Quality of Student Learning. Plymouth UK: Technical and Educational Services Ltd. Goodman, A. (2003). Now what? Developing our future. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Greene, M. (2005). Teaching in a moment of crisis: The spaces of imagination. The New Educator, 1(1), 77- 80. Gross, R. (2009). Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour (6th edition). London: Hodder Education. Grummell, B., Devine, D. & Lynch, K. (2009). The care-less manager: gender, care and new managerialism in higher education. Gender and Education, 21(2), 191-208. Hammerness, K. (2003). Learning to hope, or hoping to learn? The role of vision in the early professional lives of teachers. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(1), 43-56. Hargie, O. (2006). Third Ed, The Handbook of Communication Skills. London: Routledge. Hargreaves, A. (2002). Emotional geographies of teaching. In C. Sugrue, & C. Day, Developing teachers and teaching practice: International research perspecitves (pp.3-25). London: Falmer, Routledge. Hargreaves, A. (2003). Teaching in the knowledge society: Education in the age of insecurity. New York: Teachers College Press. Isaccs, W. (2008). Dialogue: The Art Of Thinking Together, Crown Publishers. Johnson RA, (1993) Negotiation Basics: Concepts, Skills and Exercises. New York: Sage Publications, Incorporated. Joyce, B., Weil, M. & Calhoun, E. (2004). Models of Teaching (7th. ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Kilmann, R. (1977). Developing a forced choice measure of conflict handling behaviour : The ‘Mode’ Instrument, Educational and Psychological Measurement July 1977 vol. 37 no. 2 309-325. Kirwan, B. (2013). The role of trust - in the experience of mature students, participating in learning in higher education in Ireland. Doctoral Thesis submitted to Centre For Labour Market Studies, School of Management, University of Leicester. Kitching, K. (2009). Teachers’ negative experiences and expressions of emotion: being true to yourself or keeping you in your place? Irish Educational Studies, 28(2), 141-154. Korthagen, F.A. (2004). In search of the essence of a good teacher: Towards a new holsitic approach in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20 (1), 77-97. Longworth, N (2003). Lifelong Learning in Action: Transforming Education in the 21st Century. Kogan Page, London.

90


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

Luft, J.; Ingham, H. (1955). “The Johari window, a graphic model of interpersonal awareness”. Proceedings of the western training laboratory in group development (Los Angeles: UCLA). Lynch, K., Lyons, M. & Cantiillon S. (2007). Breaking Silence: Educating citizens for love, care and solidarity. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 17(1-2), 1-19. McCune, V., Hounsell, J. Christie, H., Cree, V.E. and Tett, L. (2010). Mature and younger students’ reasons for making the transition from further education into higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 15(6): 691-702. McElhinney, K (2007). Teaching and Learning Issues from a Student Perspective. International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education - NAIRTL (National Academy for the Integration of Research in Teaching and Learning) Conference Proceedings, November 2007. Cork, Ireland: University College Cork. Mortiboys, A. (2005). Teaching with emotional intelligence: A step by step guide for higher and further education professionals. London: Routledge. Myers, I.B. (1962). The Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto CA Consulting Psychologists Press (pp1-5). Noddings, N. (2003). Caring: a feminine approach to ethics and moral education. (2nd ed.). Berkeley: University of Californian Press. Noddings, N. (2006). Educational leaders as caring teachers. School Leadership and Management, 26(4), 339-345. O’Brien, M. & Flynn, M. (2007). Emotions, inequalities and care in education. In P. Downes, & A.L. Gilligan, (Eds.). Beyond educational disadvantage (pp.70-88). Dublin: IPA. O’Brien, E.Z. (2013). Human Growth & Development: An Irish Perspective. 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan. Palmer, P.J. (2007). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Plastow, N. Spiliotopoulou, G. & Prior, S. (2010). Group Assessment at first year and final degree level: a comparitive evaluation, Innovations in: Education and Teaching International, 47:4, 393-403 Pring, R. (2005). Education as a moral practice. In Carr, W. Philosophy of education. The Routledge Falmer reader (pp195205). London: Routledge. Race, P (2006). The Lecturer’s Toolkit: 3rd Edition London: Routledge. Ryan, M. Gleeson, M. & Kirwan, B. (2003). Celebrating Living: A Journey of Discovery – Conference Proceedings from Ceiliuradh 2002. Tipperary Institute: Brosna Press. Ryan, M. (2010). A Constructivist Exploration of the Teacher’s Role: Understanding the policy practice navigation between: pedagogy, professionalism and vocationalism. Department of Education and Adult and Community Education – NUI Maynooth (Doctoral Thesis). Spretnak, C. (1999). The resurgence of the real: Body, nature and place in a hypermodern world. New York: Routledge. Tuckman (1977) Stages of small group development, Group Organization Management Vol 2: 4 (419-427).

91


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience COACHING AND EMPLOYABILITY: Working From The Inside Out: From Touchy Feely to Optimum Human Functioning?

Appendix 1 Perceptions of staff â&#x20AC;&#x201C; what they find positive in their work with human development modules 1. Building the relationships between the students. (Community of Learners) 2. Opportunity to engage with the students in a holistic manner and to embed their learning over a period of time. 3. Sharing the modules and being able to make linkages between and across modules. 4. Building on the life-work experience of the students. 5. Knowing that the frameworks and models we use are particularly useful (MBTI, EQ, Group Work, Killmann, Johnson, Belbin etc.) 6. The challenges and benefits of working with mature and younger students. 7. Vocational reward and helping the students to be human becomings 8. The assessments are very powerful in creating space and permission for the students to share their whole being. Assessments like the metaphor exercise & pieces of me project and the impact which they have in group contexts 9. The creation of a culture of discursive thinking and respectful engagement which is not exclusive to these modules but is particularly fostered in these modules 10. It offers a counterpoint in its design and process to the more instrumental experience of the other Programme modules 11. The size of the group has been an essential element in the process (25) not possible to design experiential learning in group sizes greater than this 12. The mandatory 80% attendance requirement has contributed to the success of the modules. 13. The positive feedback from the students about the relevance of the modules to their placement experiences.

92


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION: Holistic Approaches to Health Maintenance in the B.Sc. Pharmacy Degree at Trinity College

MATURE STUDENTS Mathematics as a barrier for mature students – initiatives developed within Cork 94 Institute of Technology as a response Sinéad O’Neill, Mature Student Officer, Cork Institute of Technology

Mature Students with family responsibilities: Misfits within the ‘rational economic 100 man’ model of student participation in higher education Mary O Sullivan, Mature Student Officer, University College Cork

93


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mathematics as a Barrier for Mature Students

Mathematics as a Barrier for Mature Students – Initiatives developed within Cork Institute of Technology as a response Sinéad O’Neill, Mature Student Officer, Cork Institute of Technology

Abstract The participation rate of mature students in higher education in Ireland has experienced a steady increase in the past decade accounting for 4.5% of new entrants in 1998 to 15% in 2010/11. The discipline choices of mature students are interesting with more mature students enrolling in science courses than non-matures and engineering proving popular among mature students as it is among non-matures (Carroll, 2012). In recent years concerns have been raised regarding the intake of students into these disciplines. It is feared that students entering higher education in Ireland are doing so without the necessary skills and knowledge to engage effectively with learning in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) (Dept of Education & Skills, 2011). Indeed, the field of mathematics in particular is one which tends to present challenges for a significant cohort of students. ‘More students than we would hope in higher education view mathematics as their nemesis and have an aversion to it in all forms’ (Taylor, 2006, p13). This can be particularly prevalent among mature students. A number of researchers working with adult students report observing high levels of mathematics anxiety (MacKenzie 2002, Perry 2004 in Taylor, 2006) when this is combined with poor preparedness, poor mathematical proficiency can have a negative effect on further education experiences (Benn & Burton 1993, Benn 1997, O’Donoghue 2000 in Taylor, 2006). This paper outlines the features of two mathematics initiatives developed in CIT through the Access Service to support mature students at a pre-entry and entry level. 1. Maths for Matures Programme 2. Preparatory Maths Programme The level of need for the programmes, details of the delivery of the programmes, the impact of their implementation and plans for their future development will be discussed throughout this paper.

Introduction Following the recent downturn in the Irish economy, an increasing number of unemployed adults seeking to re-train and up-skill have taken the step to avail of opportunities in higher education. Many of these would have had little or no engagement with the higher education system in previous years. Entering at this level for the first time or following a break can be a very daunting experience for mature students. Feelings of anxiety and fear can be common and can be exacerbated by the perception that the individual is the only one experiencing such feelings. It is also common that mature students in higher education present with feelings of self-doubt and generate high expectations of personal performance. This can sometimes lead to early disappointments if there is not an immediate sense of achievement after they enter this new environment (Staunton, 2012). Combined with the demands of personal life, the challenges faced by mature students entering higher education can lead to high stress levels. Even more concerning is that, when stress is perceived negatively or becomes excessive, students can experience physical and psychological impairment (Murphy & Archer, 1996 in Mirsa & McKean, 2000). The application system for entry into CIT acknowledges that mature students may not hold the minimum entry requirements necessary to gain entry into CIT but that the mature student brings with him/her life experience, experiential learning and other relevant qualifications that are conducive to successful learning. Conversely a certain level of competency in maths is required for many courses. The development of the Maths for Matures Programme was initiated following the identification of a need to provide prospective mature students with the opportunity to demonstrate their competency in maths when applying for a science or engineering course in CIT. Prior to the development of the programme, mature applicants without relevent qualications had no way of demonstrating their competency in maths. This combined with low levels of confidence among mature applicants regarding their ability in maths was creating a significant barrier to those considering the pursuit of a science/engineering programme in CIT. Almost 75% of incoming mature students surveyed in 2012 highlighted a low to average level of confidence in their competency in maths (Figure 1.0).

94


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mathematics as a Barrier for Mature Students

Mature Student Survey CIT

9 21

Low Average Strong Very Strong

72

Figure 1.0 Mature Student Survey CIT 2012 – Reported level of ‘Competency in Maths’ (Total respondents-N 102)

CIT Maths for Matures Programme The Access Officer and Mature Student Officer in collaboration with the Head of the Department of Mathematics developed a pilot programme in 2010 to respond to the issues being faced by prospective mature students. The programme would be offered to prospective mature students intending to apply for year one of a full-time undergraduate science/engineering programme in CIT. It would consist of a 14-hour elementary mathematics course, followed by an assessment of the work covered, and a feedback session and would aim to achieve the following: • Allow prospective mature students an opportunity to demonstrate their ability in maths when applying for science/engineering courses in CIT. • Familiarise prospective mature students with some of the maths that they would encounter in the first year of an engineering/science programme. • Provide an opportunity to prospective mature students to demonstrate their ability in and aptitude for maths. • Provide the Head of Department with a test result which would demonstrate if the prospective mature student had a suitable aptitude for maths in relation to the course(s) being applied for. Development of the programme took several key considerations into account: • Mature applicants applying to CIT may be working/studying during daytime hours therefore the programme would be delivered in the evenings. • A small classroom setting would be necessary in order to allow the lecturer to allocate sufficient time to each student, but would also allow them to become accustomed to a lecture setting. • Content of the programme would be based on elements of maths that the students would encounter in their first year of a science/engineering programme. • Content of the programme would be delivered in a manner that would aim to increase the confidence of the participants. • Participants of the programme would be given the opportunity to get to know each other and as a result provide peer support to each other.

95


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mathematics as a Barrier for Mature Students

Key features of the Programme • Interactive taught 18 hour programme. • 14.5 hours tuition, 1.5 hour assessment, 2 hour feedback session. • Online application process. • 2 hours x 3 evenings per week over a 3-week period. • In 2012, a €30 deposit was introduced as a requirement to secure a place due to the fact that in previous years, there were a number of applicants who had booked a place who did not present up for registration. The deposit is refundable on completion of the programme so as not to put a cost on the applicant. Places were offered to the first 25 applicants who paid the deposit. • Applicants must provide commitment to attend all sessions. • Applicants are advised that entry onto a course in CIT is not guaranteed on the basis of completion of this programme. Table 1.0 illustrates the increase in the level of interest in the programme from 2010 to 2012. The final exam average of participants indicates actual high levels of competency. Interestingly, this does not reflect the perceived low-average competency in maths highlighted in the survey results in Figure 1.0, suggesting that lack of confidence among mature students can stifle judgement regarding actual ability. This in turn can affect performance in the absence of the appropriate supports. Year

No Registered

No Attended

No Completed

Avg (%) Final Exam

2010

9

9

9

67.7

2011

20

13

11

77.1

2012

29

25

23

77.6

Table 1.0 Maths for Matures Programme Participation Numbers and Results

On application, all participants are required to outline their perceived competency in maths. Comments provided by participants prior to commencing the programme include: ‘I did maths in my L.C. but that was in 2005 so while I was fairly competent at the time I am now quite a bit rusty and would appreciate the chance to refresh and perhaps gain greater competency in maths’. ‘I completed the L.C. higher-level maths but unfortunately I only got an E in the final exam. I feel I am very capable of handling most maths problems but unfortunately have nothing in writing to show this, so this course would be a huge boost’. ‘I don’t really know how competent I am in maths. It doesn’t come easily to me but like most things once I put my mind to it I can grasp it. I failed my leaving cert maths exam at ordinary level which was 14 years ago. This was due to a number of factors. Mainly that I didn’t have an interest in the subject and had a very poor teacher who also didn’t really have an interest either’.

Evaluation Following completion of the programme each participant is requested to complete an evaluation form which provides the option of anonymity. As part of the evaluation, participants are asked what he/she benefited most from in the programme. Some of the responses from 2011/12 include: ‘It has given me belief in knowing that I can do something if I apply myself fully. It has also given me increased confidence in maths’. ‘My maths was not as poor as I expected’. ‘It refreshed my memory of maths since I haven’t used them in years’. ‘Got me familiar with the classroom situation and the importance of study, and the use of a scientific calculator’. ‘The ability to show that I have a better understanding of maths and ability to learn new topics relating to maths’. 96


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mathematics as a Barrier for Mature Students

There is a striking difference in the tone of the narrative before and after completion of the programme with the feedback indicating a significant increase in confidence among participants.

Preparatory Maths Programme The Preparatory Maths Programme was initiated in 2010 by the Mature Student Officer as part of the pre-entry support programme offered to incoming mature students and was developed in conjunction with the Department of Mathematics. The aim of the programme, which is offered to incoming mature students enrolling in a full-time undergraduate course, is to: • Provide participants with a gentle introduction to maths prior to the commencement of their programme of study. • To alleviate the apprehension and concerns that incoming students may have around studying maths. • Familiarise students with the Academic Learning Centre. Similar to the Maths for Matures Programme the Preparatory Maths Programme is an interactive taught programme which is designed to provide a solid foundation for mature students undertaking maths related modules in their first year and to alleviate some of the apprehension and concerns that they may have around maths. The programme is short (maximum 1 day) in order to avoid overloading students with information immediately prior to commencing their undergraduate course of study. See Table 1.1 below for the programme format and Table 1.2 for numbers of participants each year. Day 1 – 5th Sept

Business Studies

2 x 3 hours sessions (2 student groups - 1 x 3 hour session per group) 10.00am-1.00pm 2.00pm-5.00pm

Day 2 – 6th Sept

Science & Computing

6 hours (1 student group) 10.00am-5.00pm

Day 3 – 7th Sept

Engineering

6 hours (1 student group) 10.00am-5.00pm

Table 1.1 Preparatory Maths Programme format 2012

Year

No Completed

2010

38

2011

49

2012

65

Table 1.2 Preparatory Maths Programme Participation rates 2010-2012

Evaluation/Feedback Comments on the benefits of the programme from students who participated in it include: ‘To catch up on stuff forgotten since last in education’. ‘Sample of a lecture in classroom environment. Made me remember forgotten maths skills’. ‘Confidence in future study’. ‘Introduction to areas of maths I have not covered before’. Increased confidence and evidently better preparedness serves to decrease anxiety and stress levels among incoming mature students. As a result they are commencing the academic year with a greater awareness of their ability and a greater sense of determination.

97


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mathematics as a Barrier for Mature Students

Benefits of the programme Both maths initiatives have made a significant difference to the experience of prospective mature students and incoming students to CIT. The programmes have provided: • A means to facilitate access to CIT for prospective mature students. • A means to inform Departments of standards. • Increased confidence, self-efficacy, proficiency and responsibility among participants. • Reduced anxiety and stress among incoming students. • Social support between students which contributes to student success.

Review An annual review of the programmes is undertaken by the team involved. Amendments have been made each year to strive to improve the delivery of the programmes in accordance with their aims. Both programmes have seen an increase in participation numbers since inception (see Tables 1.0 and 1.2), highlighting the merits of such support. As the Maths for Matures Programme develops, changes to delivery and administration are planned. The application procedure will be reviewed for the next programme. Both programmes are to be extended due to increased demand. Plans are in place to increase the collection of qualitative and quantitative data in order to feed into the future development of the programmes and to determine the impact of the programmes. Students who participate in the Maths for Matures Programme could be tracked from commencement of a programme of study in CIT. It is difficult to rate the success of the Maths for Matures Programme based on the number of participants who enter CIT as there are several factors which can prevent participants reaching this stage i.e. some students who complete the programme may not actually apply for a course in CIT, some may not be offered a place on the course of their choice and some may not accept a place if offered. Consequently the number of participants who enter CIT having completed the Maths for Matures Programme is affected by a range of factors that are external to the programme. Work has been undertaken with the Faculty of Engineering and Science and the Admissions Office in raising awareness around the purpose of the programme and ensuring that it becomes recognised as an important element of the assessment process for mature applicants. As the programme has become more established within the Institute, Academic Departments are acknowledging the value of the programme and are increasing offers to participants where appropriate.

Conclusion The rise in mature new entrants into Institutes of Technology since the economic downturn has increased demand on Institutes to develop appropriate support programmes for incoming mature students. In recent years CIT has strengthened its capacity to be proactive in addressing the needs of both prospective and incoming mature students with the recruitment of a dedicated Mature Student Officer in 2009. Research suggests that mature students experience high levels of apprehension regarding entry into higher education and particularly regarding ability in mathematics. Firsthand experience of this for those working with mature students in CIT has prompted the development of two innovative programmes designed to alleviate stress and apprehension around maths. Qualitative data has highlighted the impact of these programmes on the mature student experience, and statistics show that the Maths for Matures Programme is providing prospective mature students with an attractive option to increase their chances of securing a place on a programme of study in CIT. The success of these initiatives is based on continuous review. Improvements are being made on an annual basis to ensure that both the Maths for Matures Programme and Preparatory Maths Programme are responding to the needs of prospective and incoming mature students. In an effort to highlight the effectiveness of these programmes and to ensure their future development, a strategy to generate relevant data is currently being developed. Support programmes such as those discussed in this paper are instrumental in increasing access to higher education for mature students and in negating mathematics as a nemesis for students.

98


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mathematics as a Barrier for Mature Students

Biography Sinéad O’Neill has held the position of the Mature Student Officer in CIT since 2009. Sinéad holds a 1st class Masters Degree in Youth and Community Work and prior to taking up the role of Mature Student Officer spent nine years undertaking community development work in Ireland and abroad.

Bibliography Carroll, D. and Patterson. V. (2012) A Profile of Undergraduate Mature New Entrants. Dublin: Higher Education Authority. Department of Education and Skills (2011) National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030. Dublin: Department of Education and Skills. Mirsa, R. & McKean, M., (2000) College Students’ Academic Stress and its Relation to their Anxiety, Time Management, and Leisure Satisfaction. American Journal of Health Studies 16(1) 41-61. Staunton, D. (2012) Going to College as a Mature Student. Dublin: Lettertec Irl. Ltd. Taylor, J. and Galligan, L., 2006. Mathematics for maths anxious tertiary students: intergrating the cognitive and affective domains using interactive multimedia. Teaching and Learning Centre papers, 126.

99


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mature Students with Family Responsibilities

Mature Students with Family Responsibilities: Misfits within the ‘Rational Economic Man’ Model of Student Participation in Higher Education Mary O Sullivan, Mature Student Officer, UCC

Abstract Much policy and debate has been geared toward mature student participation in higher education (Clancy and Wall, 2000; Department of Education and Science, 1998, 2001; Department Education and Skills, 2011; HEA, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2011, Universities Act, 1997). The Government efforts to widen participation and undertake welfare reform have led to an increase in the number of students with family responsibilities accessing higher education. However, the practical measures and imaginative thinking required to respond to the needs of such students have not necessarily accompanied the rise in participation rates. Students with family responsibilities are trying to make the most of the opportunities available; their determination to succeed is, however, constantly tested by a combination of obstructive policies, inaccessible institutional practices, and cultural assumptions about whom ‘students’ are (National Union of Students, 2009). The study presented here highlights how the prevalent student mode that underpins national and economic policy in Ireland, which I have termed the ‘rational economic man’ model, does not accommodate the diversity of the student population. The rational economic man approach to human behaviour has been revealed by feminist economics to be a deeply gendered construct that rests ultimately, as feminist philosophers have demonstrated, on a masculinist conceptualization of reason (González-Arnala, & Kilkeya, 2009:87). Cast in this way, it could be argued that concerns emerge around the degree to which the new higher education policy on access and student-funding in Ireland is truly compatible with the goal of increasing mature student participation to 20% of new entrants by 2013. In the study a feminist interpretation of the policy documents and the institutional practices in higher education highlighted the implicit ‘rational economic man’ model underpinning them. The mature students’ voice on how this model affects their participation in and experience of higher education will be put forward.

Mature Students with family responsibilities: Misfits within the ‘rational economic man’ model of student participation in higher education In this study the argument put forward is that underpinning the policy and discourse around higher education in Ireland is an assumption of the ‘rational economic man’ which is incongruent to the participation of mature students with family responsibilities in higher education. A key feature of ‘rational economic man’ is his individualism. This can be understood in a number of ways: as self-interest and selfishness being the main motive for action; as abstraction from social norms and structures, particularly when it comes to the development of ‘preferences’ and ‘tastes’; as well as abstraction from individual, familial, and social networks and relations. (Duncan and Edwards 1997:88). In the Irish context, according to a recent report carried out by the HEA on the profile of undergraduate mature entrants, ‘the educational attainment profile of older adults in Ireland is relatively poor by international standards and the scale of potential demand for higher education from adults in the population now and into the future is very substantial’ (HEA, 2012:28). Increasing the numbers of mature students is viewed as one important way of combating educational disadvantage (Murphy, 2000, OECD, 2011). With current funding supports being cut and the possible introduction of fees into the future how are the mature students going to fund their education? The HEA (2012) report highlighted (for the first time) that part-time provision suits mature students because: . . . 15% (5,944) of all full-time new entrants in 2010/11 were mature while 92% (1,484) of all part-time new entrants were mature. This more flexible mode of study is clearly a much more attractive mode of study for mature learners who may be juggling work and family commitments while trying to pursue a third level qualification’ (HEA, 2012:6) And . . . that mature full-time new entrants constitute 11% (2,189) of all full-time new entrants in the universities compared to 20% (3,755) in the Institutes of Technology (IoTs). In the case of part-time new entrants, mature students constitute 94% (837) of all part-time new entrants in universities compared 100


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mature Students with Family Responsibilities

to 89% (647) in the IoTs . . . The proximity of a higher education institution is more important to a mature student largely because of family commitments (HEA, 2012:8). The decision to open up Access to higher education to non-traditional groups is political and economic in origin. With this in mind I pose the questions: are higher education policies on Access based on the ‘rational economic man’ model of participation? How do mature students with family responsibilities fit into this model? How has the interplay of national and educational policy impacted on the affective experiences of this student cohort? This study draws upon the material from both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The quantitative method was a questionnaire sent to the students to elicit baseline information on which to develop the interview questions and the focus group themes. Fifty-eight (42 female and 16 male) mature students replied to the questionnaire and agreed to take part in the study. The data was collected between May and July 2012, to suit the availability of the participants. All of the students who participated in this study were registered on full-time undergraduate degree programmes at a university in the South of Ireland.

Findings on the study Age range Figure 1. 57% of females and 44% of males were in the 41 to 50 age bracket. 25% of males and 25% of females were in the 31 to 40 age bracket. 31% of males and 5% of females were in the 51 to 60 age bracket. 9.5% of females were in the 23 to 30 bracket and 2% of females were in the 61+ bracket

Marital Status and number of Children Figure 2. Four single mothers had one child each. One single male had one child and one single male had three children. Two married females had one child and three married males had one child. Ten married females and one married male had two children. Nine married females and three married males had three children. Four married females and one married male had four children. Four married females had five children. Three separated/divorced males had one child. Three separated/divorced females and one separated/divorced male had two children. One separated/divorced female and one separated/divorced male had three children. Two separated/divorced females had four children and one separated/divorced woman had five children. One cohabiting female had one child and three cohabiting males had four children

Mature students with family responsibilities v the rational economic man – Motivation for entering higher education In the study presented here the mature students with family responsibilities were motivated to enter higher education due to a number of factors that are inconsistent with the rational economic man model: Life changes such as separation/divorce, unemployment, the need to up-skill and to provide a better future for their children. The rational economic man is motivated by accreditation, social mobility and parental expectation. He does not have family responsibilities and entry into higher education is based on Leaving Certificate points. In contrast entry into higher education for mature students is not guaranteed through achieving the required points in the Leaving Certificate. Rather it is based on their work experience, life experience, other formal education accreditation, voluntary work, hobbies and interests and a capacity to benefit from higher education. Entry requirements can include admission tests, personal statements and interviews. The decision to enter higher education for the mature students in this study involved a conscious weighing up of the potential benefits and risks within the current economic crisis. In contrast to the findings in the literature reviewed the students in this study, both male and female mature students, cited ‘interest in the subject area’ rather than ‘unfulfilled potential’ or ‘self-transformation’ as the main reasons for returning to higher education. For all of the students the change in family roles meant that they had to work harder to keep the balance in all aspects of their lives, and were under pressure to achieve success in each of the two spheres by showing that neither suffered because of their participation in the other (Edwards, 1993). The requirement for them to prioritise their own needs as students came into conflict with the patriarchal division of labour (Britton & Baxter 1999). For all of the mature students in this study their decisions and experiences of higher education were embedded in the ‘emotional’ aspects of their lives, and it was through this ‘emotional’ lens that they made sense of higher education. Thus, the opportunities and risks associated with university were seen in terms of their identities as mothers, fathers, carers, husbands, wives, and daughters, and involved costs and benefits for resources, such as time, reproduction, and social 101


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mature Students with Family Responsibilities

standing. This suggests that the concept of rationality underpinning the government’s policy on higher education needs to be broadened to accommodate more than simply the economic dimensions of human behaviour (Gonza lez-Arnal, 2009:106). In accordance with Fleming (2010), discussions about finance, careers and the economic benefits of higher education was a feature of the focus groups and it was clear that a better job is not the most obvious benefit of higher education for them though it was their aspiration for the future. They were aware that a highly paid deeply satisfying job with major advances through the socio-economic ladder is not the reality in the current economic climate in Ireland. The students did see the family as the major beneficiary overall and they spoke about the degree affording them more time for their families and providing their children with the social and cultural capital dividends that students are well aware of as they graduate.

Mature students with family responsibilities v the rational economic man – national policy in perspective A feminist reading of the policy and debate that has been geared toward mature student participation in higher education shows an underlying assumption of the ‘rational economic man’ student model. In practice education policy is based on economic policy and the language used in these documents is androcentric in nature, using key performance indicators as measures of inclusion and success. The focus is on the economy and how human capital contributes to economic growth without addressing the component parts or the real life experiences of those people who are meant to make up this human capital. These policy documents are ‘rational’ and exclude the affective impact of policy decisions on the people. Taking for example the concept of ‘non-traditional’ which is much used to describe mature students in policy documents: Systemically the use of this language places the mature students within a deficit model when measured against the norm or ‘traditional’ student. It could be argued that the deficit model on which access for mature students is based provides the template for which they are viewed within the education system. Language and the use of language is very important as it is a tool that can open up or restrict opportunities for certain groups, depending on the political agenda being served. The concept of the ‘non-traditional’ student is so engrained in the mind-set of the policy makers and the higher education institutions that it serves to take the focus away from the issues of institutional practices and project it onto the ‘deficient’ student. Challenging the existing structures is undertaken at a rhetorical level, it could be argued, with reference to the need for institutional change and widening participation. In reality what is happening on the ground is that additional structures such as Access Offices, Mature Student Offices and Disability Offices are put in place to show the national and institutional commitment to change. However real meaningful change is needed within the existing structures, policies and processes which are steadfastly based on the ‘rational economic man’ model. Adding structures does not equate to meaningful change, rather it can mask the underlying oppressive patriarchal systems in operation. Education has been recognised as a force for social inclusion, better health among individuals, a better quality of life, better employment, and for national economic and social prosperity (Maxwell & Dorrity, Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, 2011, 2007; OECD, 2011). Yet there is no evidence within policy documents that the composition of the target groups has been taken into account . It appears that target groups are homogenous in nature from reading the documents. The rhetoric on access, widening participation and lifelong learning is therefore, arguably, based on the traditional student model or a masculinist rationality, of both the individual risks and benefits of higher education study, and are reducible to the ‘rational economic man’ model of human behaviour. Where do mature women with family responsibilities fit into this neo-liberal picture? In an individualistic and patriarchal society the high-achieving, productive person does not have family responsibilities. To contradict the rhetorical promises of the policy statements one has to dig beneath the surface into the policy on student funding. Bearing in mind that the HEA clearly stated ‘grant support plays an important role in student retention’ (HEA, 2010:6): In 2010, the government introduced a new budget, which radically changed the funding mechanisms that supported mature students in higher education. This change was brought about due to the budget deficit facing Ireland in the current economic recession. There are two main sources of financial support for mature students studying full-time undergraduate degree programmes: (1) Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) and (2) the Third Level Grant System. Prior to 2010 mature students were entitled to receive both the BTEA and The Third Level Grant simultaneously. This meant that students would receive €6000 in grant support plus have their student registration fee paid for by the third level grant and receive €188 per week BTEA. They also received €500 book allowance annually through the BTEA. After the 2010 budget mature students were no longer entitled to receive both payments. Government policy dictated that mature students could only apply for one payment. However, mature students were still entitled to apply to have their registration fee covered by the third level grant and also receive their weekly BTEA payment. The amount of the grant was substantially cut and many students were reduced by €3000 per year. The book allowance was reduced to €300. From the start of the academic year 2013/14 the book allowance has been withdrawn completely. 102


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mature Students with Family Responsibilities

This change in legislation affected students who were already in the system at different levels, leaving them with huge financial burdens on their families while they finished their studies. Means testing became more stringent and qualification for the BTEA became more difficult to obtain. This action crystallises the lack of understanding of the financial difficulties that mature students face when trying to access third level education. The national policies with their defined targets for mature student participation actively undermine the operationalization of meeting those targets with their own policies on student funding support. The approach to higher education seems to be based on Darwinian theory, that is to say, the survival of the fittest with only those who can independently afford to avail of the opportunities benefiting. Flemming (2010) argued correctly that national policy is removed from the reality of the impact of their decisions (Flemming et al 2010:6). The findings of the study presented here imply that mature students with family responsibilities are ‘misfits’ within the ‘rational economic man’ model of higher education policy and practice as their motivation and rationale for participation is based on family. Eleven per-cent of the national student body is now made up of mature students in the Irish university sector and is expected to grow substantially to 25% by the year 2030 (HEA, 2011). In the past government efforts to widen participation and undertake welfare reform have led to an increase in the number of mature students with family responsibilities entering university, many of whom are from workingclass backgrounds. However, recent policy changes in the student funding model have impacted negatively on mature students with family responsibilities in the system. The literature on mature students with family responsibilities participation in higher education is prolific; however national policy has not recognised this group specifically until recently (HEA, 2012). Mature students with family responsibilities go against the grain of the culture of higher education yet they survive within the system to achieve their potential against the odds (National Union of Students, 2009). It could be argued that the ‘odds’ they are fighting against are the implicit ‘rational economic man’ systemic perception of who a student should be. European and national economic policy with its masculinist outlook on future developments implicitly hold the ‘rational economic man’ as the ideal model with his individualistic outlook removed from familial and social networks. The rhetoric of social inclusion would appear as window-dressing to mask the reality of the model in practice. Merrill (1999) highlights the issue of the language used in policy documentation and advises caution in interpreting what is being put forward. The mature students in this study were not consciously aware of the Access Agenda yet they did recognise that their main access route to third level was through the mature student route. The concepts of access, widening participation and lifelong learning are part of the everyday discourse in education circles. However, these concepts are not clearly defined and appear rather fluid in interpretation at institution level. The students in this study highlighted this point. For them ‘access’ was interpreted differently depending on world view, if they were in receipt of a BTEA payment then they understood the term to mean a route to higher education put in place by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). For those who attended a Further Education College or who contacted the University directly prior to entry, it was understood as a specific route for non-traditional students; and for those who entered the University and were financing themselves, they understood Access as being their student card which allowed them to access the university IT systems. All of these interpretations of ‘access’ are valid within the student’s own experience and use of everyday language.

Mature students with family responsibilities v the rational economic man – institutional policy and practice in perspective It was not until the Universities Act of 1908 that women were admitted to all degrees and offices of the National University of Ireland (NUI), the newly established Federate University with UCC, NUIM, NUIG and UCD as constituent universities. Higher education was, therefore, a male preserve based on the ‘rational economic man’ model of who entered higher education until very recently. The patriarchal structures on which the Universities were built continue to underpin their functioning today. Traditional student is usually 18 years old, middle-class, white and supported by parents. In contrast mature students are over the age of 23 years and independent of their parents (for the most part). Mature students with family responsibilities are usually in their mid/late twenties upwards. They come from all class structures including working class and unemployed. In comparison to the ‘rational economic man’ mature students with family responsibilities have to take care of children, manage a home, manage the finances, pay household bills, run a car, purchase household shopping, undertake school runs, pay medical bills and they often work part-time outside of the home to supplement the family income. They do not have parents to fall back on when in difficulty and there are risks to relationships with family and friends because of their study commitments. Mature students are referred to as ‘non-traditional’ indicating that they are different to the ‘traditional’ or ‘rational economic man’. Students are the lifeblood of any university or educational establishment. However, higher education is being steered towards a business model where the focus is on sustainability and key performance indicators. Key performance indicators and targets are terms most commonly used in the business world; but, today they are part of the discourse in higher education. This focus changes the dynamics of the learning environment it could be argued, as the emphasis 103


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mature Students with Family Responsibilities

shifts from the student experience to student enrolment. Yet in recent years there has been a focus on the experience of the student within the higher education system, and a number of institutions created posts with the title of ‘student experience’. This was a policy indicator that the institutions were focusing on the affective impact on students’ lives. The system was looking beyond the key performance indicators into the welfare of their students. Despite the fact that students are the lifeblood in any education system, their voice is rarely considered in policy decision-making, especially around the issues that affect mature students. When the mature students talked about trying to balance student life and family life, students were passionate about the amount of effort and time that went into making it possible to be part of the student population. They talked about not ‘fitting in’ in that they couldn’t afford the time to go for coffee, or nights out, and they could not afford the time to take part in societies or clubs.

Conclusion In the study presented here the ratio of females to males with family responsibilities was 4:1. All of the students had family responsibilities which imposed additional economic and time demands on them. They all demonstrated good academic performance which is in line with the findings in the literature (Cantwell et al. 2001; Donaldson 1999; McGivney 1996; Richardson 1995). According to Richardson (1994), the superior academic performance of mature-aged students is attributable to their life experience. From the results of this study it could be said that the students were under financial and duty of care pressure to achieve in academia as they could not afford to repeat because it would compromise their family responsibilities. The affective impact of policy decisions and institutional practices on mature students with family responsibilities is often viewed as an individual problem rather than a systemic failure in duty of care. Taking the standpoint that educational institutions view the issues through the ‘rational economic man’ lens then the issues are indeed external to them and personal to the student. But the personal is political in the case of higher education as students in this study confirmed. The issues that they encountered were on an individual level; however, they were not alone in that as a group they were encountering the same issues. What masked the issues in individual terms was that each student had a personal journey in dealing with their issues both within the institution and external to the institution especially with regards the funding mechanisms. The mature students in this study were highly motivated and determined to succeed in their studies despite the challenges that they faced. These challenges were mainly around trying to adequately meet the demands of the two ‘greedy institutions’ of the family and the University (Edwards, 1993). The introduction of the concept of two ‘greedy institutions’ into the lexicon places equal weighting on each ‘institution’ with regards to the effect on the students. From the findings of this study the university was the ‘greediest’ institution as the family at least afforded flexibility to accommodate the student role, whereas the inflexibility of the institution placed obstacles on the road to progression. The students felt that they had to compromise in both spheres in order to achieve a sense of balance in their lives. There was a high emotional cost for the students as the sense of guilt that they felt about the role as being a student impacted on every aspect of their lived experience. Committing to full-time third level education is demanding but the rewards are high on a personal level. The policy on higher education access for mature student places the onus on the student at an individual level to provide childcare and to finance their education. The literature on mature students with family responsibilities highlight these but do not dig beneath the surface to the national policies that underlie the reality. In Ireland the national policy on childcare provision is piecemeal, which translates into the childcare provision for students who are also parents. National policy on funding for mature students has taken a regressive move and reduced or withdrawn essential funding to facilitate participation in third level education. This policy decision contradicts the policy of increasing the participation of mature students in education. Contradictions in policy affect students on the ground. It could be argued that national policy is consistently basing decisions on the ‘traditional economic man’ model which is not fit for purpose for the mature student cohorts.

104


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mature Students with Family Responsibilities

Biography Mary O Sullivan is the Mature Student Officer in UCC. She has worked in the area of mature student access to higher education for over eleven years.

Bibliography Baxter, A. & Britton, C. (2001), `Risk, identity and change: becoming a mature student’. International Studies in the Sociology of Education, Vol.11, (1), 87-102. Cantwell, R., Archer, J., and Bourke, S. (2001), ‘A comparison of the academic experiences and achievement of university students entering by traditional and non-traditional means’. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 26,(3), 221–234. Clancy, P. and Wall, J. (2000), Social Backgrounds in Higher Education Entrants,Dublin: HEA Department of Education and Science (2001), Report of the Action Group on Access to Third Level Education, Dublin: Stationary Office Department of Education and Science (1998), Adult education in an era of lifelong learning. Green Paper on adult education. Dublin: Stationary Office Department of Education and Skills (2011), National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, Dublin:Stationary Office. Department of Social Protection (2012), Back to Education Allowance Scheme http://www.welfare.ie/en/publications/sw70/pages/abacktoeducationallowancebtea.aspx#qualify Donaldson, J. F. (1999), A model of college outcomes for adults. Adult Education Quarterly, Vol. 50, (1), 24–40. Duncan, S. and Edwards, R. (1997), ‘‘Lone Mothers and Paid Work: RationalEconomic Man or Gendered Moral Rationalities?’’ Feminist EconomicsVol. 3,(2), 29–61. Edwards, R. (1993), Mature Women Students: separating or connecting family and education. London & Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (2011), Tomorrow’s Skills. Towards a National Skills Strategy, Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in FÁS on behalf of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN). Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (2007), Tomorrow’s Skills. Towards a National Skills Strategy, Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in FÁS on behalf of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN). Fleming, T. (2010), Retention and Progression in Irish Higher Education. NUI Maynooth Conference paper. González-Arnala, S. and Kilkeya, M. (2009), ‘Contextualizing rationality: Mature student carers and higher education in England’, Feminist Economics,Vol. 15, (1), 85-111 HEA (2012), A Profile of Undergraduate Mature New Entrants. Dublin: HEA HEA (2011), Higher Education Key facts and figures (2010/11). Dublin: HEA HEA (2010a), National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2008-2013. Mid-Term review December 2010 Published by the National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education,Dublin:HEA HEA (2010b), External Audit of HEA Equal Access Survey. Dublin: HEA. HEA (2010c), Maintaining progress on equality of access to higher education’ Memorandum to the National Strategy Steering Group. Dublin: www.education.ie. HEA (2010d), A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education. Dublin: HEA. HEA (2010e), Eurostudent Survey II:Irish Report on the Social and Living Conditions of Higher Education Students 2010/11. Dublin: HEA 105


Conference Proceedings, 14th Biennial CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience MATURE STUDENTS: Mature Students with Family Responsibilities

HEA (2009), Study on the Costs of Participation in Higher Education. Dublin:HEA HEA (2008a), Strategic Plan 2008-2010. Dublin: HEA HEA (2008b), National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2008-2013. Dublin: HEA. HEA (2007), National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education: Annual Report 2006 and Outline Plans 2007, Dublin: HEA. HEA (2006a), Annual Report 2006 and Outline Plans 2007, Dublin: HEA. HEA (2006b), Towards the Best Education for All, An Evaluation of Access Programmes in Higher Education in Ireland. HEA (2005), Achieving Equity of Access to higher education in Ireland: Setting the Agenda for Action in Ireland. Conference proceedings. Dublin:HEA McGivney, V. (1996). Staying or Leaving the Course: Non-Completion and Retention of Mature Students in Further and Higher Education. Leicester, England: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education and Higher Education. Maxwell, N, and Dorrity, C. (2009), ‘Access to third level education: challenges for equality of opportunity in post Celtic tiger Ireland’. Irish Journal of public Policy. Vol. 2. Merrill, B. (1999), Gender, Change and Identity: Mature Women Students in Universities, Aldershot: Ashgate. Murphy, M. (2000), How the other half lives: A case study of successful and unsuccessful mature applicants in Irish higher education. Paper presented at SCUTREA, 30th Annual Conference, 3-5 July 2000, University of Nottingham. National Union of Students (2009), Meet the Parents, the Experience of Students With Children in Further and Higher Education OECD (2011), Education at a Glance. Paris: OECD. Richardson, J. E. (1995), ‘Mature students in higher education: II. An investigation of approaches to studying and academic performance’. Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 20,(1), 5–17.

106


KEEPING IN-TOUCH www.cssireland.ie GROUPS Confederation of Student Services in Ireland


CSSI Conference 2013: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience