The accelerating pace of change in HE and the learner experience present ongoing challenges for universities in providing targeted peer2peer support designed to meet the needs and expectations of both the institution and those of the learner. While strong connections with peers is recognised as central to student engagement and success, the challenge is how to enable these interactions to happen in ways that meet the learner needs in an environment characterised by diversification, massification and an increasingly online presence of students. Aligned with these challenges is a tightening of resources where universities seek accountability, quality assurance, and strategic alignment directing funds to initiatives that demonstrate high impact and resource efficiencies. Addressing these issues is central to sustainability of peer 2 peer programs and initiatives.
This Peer2Peer Network seeks to create a community of practise for people to share, collaborate and mature our thinking and understanding around best practice in p2p learning engagement.

  • Some of the areas that this network can collaboratively explore include:
  • Micro programs: Just-in-time and Just-enough peer2peer initiatives
  • Evaluation: evidencing impact
  • Integrated institutional systems e.g. training, reward & recognition
  • Online platforms
  • Scalable and sustainable models
  • Access, inclusivity and meeting the learner needs
  • Peer leader reward & recognition
  • Developing the capabilities of peer leaders
  • Quality assurance & program design
  • Volunteering & the Fair Work Act
  • Building staff/institutional capacity for student leadership development and support
  • Nexus between Students as Partners & Peer Programs
  • Student designed & led programs
  • Curriculum aligned and integrated approaches e.g. threshold concepts, academic skills, career considerations

If you are interested in joining the community or have suggestions about what this community needs to be, please contact Victoria Menzies at v.menzies@qut.edu.au

 

Victoria Menzies
Senior Lecturer and the Coordinator – Peer Programs Strategy,
Queensland University of Technology

Situated within Student Success & Retention, her work focuses on supporting student engagement and learning success through establishing structures and systems that support best practice and sustainability in peer program design and leader development.  Key institutional strategic initiatives include: a university-wide integrated approach to peer leader training and development (online and face-to-face); a central system for promotion and communication of student leadership opportunities; guidelines for volunteer management; a peer leader reward and recognition framework; and, an evaluation framework. The Strategy applies a distributed leadership model that focuses on developing the capabilities of staff and students to independently design and implement initiatives.  To ensure peer-to-peer initiatives meet the learner’s needs, a partnerships model is applied with staff and students co-designing and leading initiatives. Since instigating the strategy in 2011, QUT has seen a significant expansion in the reach, scale and sustainability of peer programs. This has ensured students now have access to a range of peer support and leadership opportunities that meet their needs and expectations.

Applying a student-staff partnership model, Victoria is particularly interested in exploring high impact ‘bespoke’ peer-to-peer learning alliances designed to meet the particular needs of the learners while being manageable for both the program coordinator and the peer leaders.  She has extensive experience as both an educator and researcher in schools and Higher Education. Her research interests centre on learning environments and strategies that promote inclusivity and student engagement through collaborative learning networks.

 

Jane Skalicky

As Director, Student Retention and Success, Jane leads a team of academic and professional staff, including student leaders, working across all UTAS campuses to provide language and academic skill development, academic transition programs, career development, student advice and support, as well as a range of peer learning and engagement programs. Jane also contributes to strategic initiatives and policy development that advance student learning, engagement and experience within the context of faculties, centres, and institutes and at the institutional level. Jane has held management positions in both education and industry. Jane’s teaching and coordination experience spans thirty years and at a tertiary level includes mathematics education for pre-service teachers, academic staff development, and training and supporting student peer leaders.

Peer programs play a key strategic role at the University of Tasmania, forming part of the university’s whole of institution Retention and Success strategy; and Jane has led the expansion of peer programs across learning, career, engagement, advice and mentoring spaces. Jane also led the national OLT-funded Developing and Supporting Student Leadership grant with open resources available atwww.dassl.edu.au

 

Jacques van der Meer

Jacques van der Meer (PhD) is Associate Dean (Academic & Research) at the University of Otago College of Education. He has worked in many sectors of education (including secondary and community education). His research interests are related to the first-year experience, student retention, equitable access and participation in higher education, peer-learning and student leadership approaches to enhancing student engagement.

 

Melissa Zaccagnini

Melissa leads the Peer Learning team, within the Learning, Teaching & Curriculum Division of the University of Wollongong, which includes 130 peer leaders and engages over 4000 students per year across 8 campuses. With over 10 years’ of experience in the design, implementation, management and evaluation of peer led programs (academic, cultural, social and wellbeing),  Melissa has great enthusiasm for the value of peer programs in higher education,  especially advocating for the strategic inclusion of peer to peer opportunities to complement and enhance traditional teaching and learning environments and support student transition and success.

As Head of the National Centre for PASS and an International Certified Trainer, Melissa has had the privilege of delivering accredited PASS Supervisor training to hundreds of colleagues from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Fiji, Singapore and China. The international success of the PASS model has inspired Melissa to identify key transferable elements which can be utilised to continuously evolve and operationalise peer based offerings to meet institutional and student needs. Melissa enjoys working collaboratively with colleagues to support innovation and sharing of best practice around peer programs, both at UOW and across the Australasia region/ Internationally.

 

References

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Esplin, P., Seabold, J. & Pinnegar, F. (2012). The architecture of a high-impact and sustainable peer leader program: A blueprint for success. New Directions in Higher Education. Special Issue: Peer Leadership in Higher Education, 157, 85-100.

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