eMentoring Pilot a Success

By June 27, 2016News

To read about eMentoring from a mentor’s perspective, click here.

In2science recently completed a successful trial of its new eMentoring program, which aims to connect students from regional schools with university mentors. In March, In2science received funding from the Victorian Government to support the online mentoring program, which pairs eMentors with regional school students based on their interests, aspirations or competencies in science and mathematics. The completion of this pilot marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for In2science, extending the program’s reach into regional areas of Victoria.

The pilot program started in April this year with three schools participating in the trial. A total of 27 students connected with 9 mentors in weekly audio and screen-sharing sessions. Two of the trial schools were in the Shepparton region, an area that In2science mentors would not normally be able to reach. The students benefitted from being in small groups of two to four during sessions with their mentors, gaining insights into STEM pathways they would not normally have. 

Using the screen sharing function, one mentor took students through her university course selection for semester 2, giving students a ‘real life’ sense of what uni is like and the possibilities open to them if they go onto study science after completing year 12.  Other mentors and student groups had far reaching discussions as to why soft drink cans burst in the freezer, and how it could be possible for a planet to be made from diamonds.

 

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Over the trial spanning 10 weeks, eMentors also worked with students on their classwork, study skills and supported students to consider science outside the science classroom. The trial also gave mentors and coordinators valuable insights into some of the practical challenges of communicating with students over the online platform, and ways to overcome these challenges.


During the semester one pilot, eMentors submitted weekly reflective tasks.  Use the tabs below to get a snapshot on how sessions changed over time.

“Students were shy. Gave some info about uni, hopefully there will be more questions next week”

“Introduction to uni life, what I am studying (including what I will be doing honours in). What the students are interested, what they like doing for hobbies. Then went to talk about cells, the general structure of cells and the difference between plant and animal cells. Drew diagrams on white board. General ‘getting to know you talk’”


“Students had lots of questions, chatted for 45 mins!”

“Talked about different types of energy, and why soft drink cans burst in the freezer. Why sound can’t travel in space.”

“Discussed the heart and what it’s going to look like on Friday when they do a dissection. Talked about how diamonds are formed, and how it could be possible for a planet to be made from diamonds.”

“We went over the heart dissection, the different parts and the direction of blood flow. Then moved on to talking about university and the possibility of having to relocate to study and if that put them off.”

“Talked about how their test went and both students were very happy with their test outcomes. We then went to start talking about digestion and more progressed into some general talk about biology and different living organisms and their structures and overall design. One student particularly liked that we went ‘off topic’ and ‘off schedule’ . It was a relaxed session, talked about one of the student’s footy playing and who they would be battling in the next few weeks.”


“Finished up digestion and did a review, getting both Students to relay me what they had learnt and what they found interesting. I was impressed by the wealth of knowledge both students had collected over the few short weeks and have no doubts that they will be great when the test comes around. We then started talking about circulation and the heart and the different sections of the heart, as they have a heart dissection coming up. I also mentioned that the ementoring classes were coming to an end as we were in week 9 of the 10 week period…. Both Students seemed sad to see the program coming to an end but when I asked them had they enjoyed themselves and learnt new things they both said that they were very happy to participate in the program and enjoyed chatting to me about uni and various other science topics.”


Next semester the program is set to double in size, lead by our new eMentoring coordinator Ana Garcia Melgar.  If you are interested in the program and would like further information, please get in touch via in2science-ementoring@latrobe.edu.au.

To read about eMentoring from a mentor’s perspective, click here.