Pasifika Students: supporting academic success through the provision of mentoring
This project identifies the success factors that help promote Pasifika student academic success from the perspectives of those most directly involved in the mentoring process - Pasifika students and their lecturers, and the Pasifika mentors themselves.
Diane Mara & Maryanne Marsters, Eastern Institute of Technology
This small scale research project over six months focused on the provision of academic mentoring for first year Pasifika students in the School of Education and Social Sciences within the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT). It set out to identify the success factors that help promote Pasifika student academic success from the perspectives of those most directly involved in the mentoring process- Pasifika students and their lecturers, and the Pasifika mentor herself. Data was gathered through interviews and focus groups with lecturers and students. Students self-assessed their academic skills and confidence at the beginning and end of the mentoring research project. A database was developed to track and monitor the mentoring process for these students. It was used to record academic information relating to the participant students, the numbers of meetings with the mentor, the type of assistance received and the ways used to maintain contact with students
This research identified four success factors which are then described in more detail with reference to the research data and a small-scale literature review. The findings are that success is determined by the quality and nature of: the Pasifika student mentor’s role and tasks; the skills, experience and qualities of the Pasifika student mentor; the mentoring relationships established and maintained between the mentor, the students and the lecturers, and lastly, the need to include more culturally appropriate learning and teaching resources and tools for Pasifika students.
The key outcomes of this study do not rest with demonstrating direct and provable links between the Pasifika student mentoring process and academic success. This is impossible to do within a six month period. However, what this study has contributed to at the institutional level is a review of the institution’s policy focus on Pasifika students and communities and the development of a Pasifika Strategy that links to the overall EIT Strategic Plan (2010-2014). Another set of immediate outcomes for the students and the staff in the School of Education and Social Sciences is that it has provided a focus and an opportunity to document and then analyse practice in relation to teaching Pasifika students. With these essential platforms combined with the student database and several robust research and monitoring instruments from this study the way is clear so that potentially, such direct cause and effect relationships between the nature of mentoring and academic success for Pasifika students can be demonstrated in future research. As such, this study has provided the essential first-steps to achieving an integrated approach to encouraging Pasifika students to enrol in tertiary study and to then support them through a programme of study in order to achieve academic success.
Importantly, this study has also provided an opportunity to build Pasifika research capability and capacity within EIT.
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