Mentor scheme ensures new students a good start at Bioscience

The Department of Bioscience tested a mentor scheme the previous semester, where a team of older students guided students at the second semester about life as a biology student. The evaluations were very positive, and the arrangement is repeated in the spring. Here four students talk about what they got out of participating.

2018.10.24 | Lea Laursen Pasgaard

[Translate to English:] This spring Karen La Cour Jørgensen, Oliver Hansen, Trine Henriksen and Lasse Jensen participated in the mentor scheme. Photo: Lea Laursen Pasgaard

[Translate to English:] This spring Karen La Cour Jørgensen, Oliver Hansen, Trine Henriksen and Lasse Jensen participated in the mentor scheme. Photo: Lea Laursen Pasgaard

What is it like to take an exam? How do you prepare for the teaching? And how do you know which direction you should design your education? These are just some of the many questions that a new mentor scheme at the biology programme in the spring gave 2nd semester students an opportunity to talk to some of the older fellow students about.

Good advice from peers

Karen La Cour Jørgensen and Oliver Hansen are biology students at the Department of Bioscience and participated in the scheme in the spring.

"The mentors are familiar with life at Biology. They have been through the same things as us, and it just makes it easier to relate to. If we had sat together with a lecturer, I don't think we had talked about it  in the same way. You could put into words what you think might be frustrating," Karen La Cour Jørgensen says.

Oliver Hansen adds:

"You hear that they also felt this way, and then you think that when they could make it, then we can also handle the studies. It has given peace and an overview of the study to participate."

The mentor scheme is also rewarding for the older students, Lasse Jensen and Trine Henriksen believe, who are both Master's degree students and participated in the scheme as mentors.

"I think that the first year of Biology was hard, and it is good that we can help the new students get started during a little longer period. When they talk with older students, they can get rid of their frustrations, and perhaps in this way we can get some to stay at the Biology programme. In addition, of course, it also looks good on your CV and as a mentor, you learn how to communicate, "Lasse Jensen explains.

We help each other at Biology

Both he and Trine Henriksen point out the opportunity to help others as their main motivation for participating in the scheme.

"We are good at helping each other at Biology. We are not ego trippers who save the pearls of wisdom to ourselves. I think it is important to humanise the Biology programme a bit. Many students worry about the same problems: Is what I do good enough? Am I dumb if I don't understand it all? "Trine Henriksen adds.

The aim is to retain more students

The Department's Education Committee has taken the initiative to introduce the mentor scheme. The primary purpose behind the scheme is without doubt to reduce drop-out rates, associate professor and mentor scheme coordinator, Hans Røy explains:

"The way we address the drop-out rate is to help students to become competent university students much quicker. We will help them to a committed and efficient study from the beginning of the degree programme, and to use their study environment and their professional network. Hopefully the result is less frustration and drop-out rates and competent and committed students."

The evaluation of the plan shows that the participating students from the second semester have been very pleased with the scheme. 78% state that they "agree" or "strongly agree" that the overall scheme has provided relevant sparring on study strategies and integration at the University, while 86% would recommend future biology students to participate in the mentor scheme.

Breaking the University's reading code

"We had a really positive feedback from both mentors and mentees, and I have a clear feeling that the process has helped many students to crack the University's reading code. In addition, the scheme has given us a unique feedback from our first-year students with whom we do not have a close contact with like those we meet at the small courses and projects later in the study , "Hans Røy says.

The Education Committee and the Department Management have decided that the mentorship programme should continue. In the 2019 spring semester students at their second semester will therefore have  the possibility to draw on good advice and experience from their older fellow students.

Information about the spring's mentor scheme will be available on the Study Portal together with the second semester courses.

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Facts: The mentorship programme at Biology

  • The basic idea behind the Biology mentorship programme is that older students (mentors) should guide second semester students (mentees) about life as a student. The mentors will thus supplement the efforts of student advisers, student instructors and the student counselling in ensuring a good study environment.

  • In other words, the mentorship programme should be seen as part of the wide range of initiatives to ensure a good study environment and to retain and motivate the students. 

  • Mentors and mentees at Biology meet to talk in groups four to five times during the semester. Each group consists of two mentors and approximately five students. The meetings are confidential.

  • Each meeting is based on different themes, such as study habits, preparation and study techniques, degree programme structure, motivation, choices during the degree programme, career and exams.

  • The first is compulsory for all second semester students.  Subsequently, the students decide whether he or she wants to participate in the scheme.

  • The mentors are paid for their efforts and must participate in a preparatory course, so that they are well equipped to help the younger students to find their footing in the studies. 

Translated by Sissel Rønning. 

Department of Bioscience, Public / media, Staff, Students