In this paper, we analyse the introduction of peer mentors into timetabled classes to understand how in-class mentoring supports students’ learning. The peer mentors in this study are high-achieving students who previously completed the same course and who were hired and trained to facilitate Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS). PASS gives students the opportunity to deepen their understanding through revision and active learning and are typically held outside of class time. In contrast, our trial embedded peer mentors into classes for a large (~250 students) first-year workshop-based course. We employed a participatory action research methodology to facilitate the peer mentors’ co-creation of the research process. Data sources include peer mentors’ journal entries, student cohort data, and a focus group with teaching staff. We found that during face-to-face workshops, peer mentors role-modelled ideal student behaviour (e.g., asking questions) rather than acting as additional teachers, and this helped students to better understand how to interact effectively in class. The identity of embedded peer mentors is neither that of teachers nor of students, and it instead spans aspects of both as described using a three-part schema comprising (i) identity, (ii) associated roles, and (iii) associated practices. As we moved classes online mid-semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, mentors’ identities remained stable, but mentors adjusted their associated roles and practices, including through the technical aspects of their engagement with students. This study highlights the benefits of embedding mentors in classrooms on campus and online.
Recommended CitationPhelan, Liam; Baker, Sophie; Cooper, Georgie; Horton, Tess; Whitling, Samantha; Hodge, Paul; Cutts, Karen; Bugir, Cassandra K.; Howell, Lachlan G.; Latham, Kenneth G.; Stevens, Heather R.; Witt, Ryan R.; and McBain, Bonnie, Putting the PASS in Class: Peer Mentors’ Identities in Science Workshops on Campus and Online, Journal of Peer Learning, 14, 2022, 21-36.