Student experience


A student’s transition into higher education or a new learning environment can set the foundation for the remainder of their study, both in perception and academic ability. Mentoring is a transition intervention strategy and most types of these interventions are student peer to peer. However, there is a growing interest in academic involvement in mentoring and consequently this paper is an investigation into the effective implementation of assigning students with an academic staff buddy or mentor in the transition period of their first year of higher education i.e. the Staff Student Buddy System (SSBS). The analysis focusses on using two measures to inform the results by qualitatively analysing the feedback from the students, and quantitatively measuring the difference in academic performance of both student participants and non-participants. The sample of the students come from the University of South Australia, and the qualitative analysis indicated that students enjoyed SSBS, particularly with the ability to ask questions to those that would be teaching them. The quantitative statistical evidence indicated that SSBS could be a positive factor on a student’s Grade Point Average. Overall, the conclusion was that that the combination of the SSBS and these students produced improved academic performance while providing a positive student experience.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Most mentoring and buddy interventions focus on student peer to peer relationships however, given academics curricula knowledge, having an academic to student version could be advantageous for students both from a social and academic engagement perspective.
  2. The qualitative findings indicated that students enjoyed the SSBS sessions especially with the ability to ask question to those that would be teaching then during the year. The quantitative suggested that the average GPA of participating students performed higher overall throughout their program than the students who did not participate in SSBS.
  3. To maximise an SSBS uptake by students, academics need to be aligned with student interests and ensure communications are received and acted upon by students.