Swimming in the deep-end: an e-mentoring approach to help mature students' transition to higher education

Palitha Edirisingha, University of Leicester [http://www.le.ac.uk], Leicester, UK.


This paper reports findings from research into the benefits of e-mentoring for mature students (21 years old and above) preparing for university study through taking Access courses. The research was carried out at Kingston University in the UK in the context of current policies of widening participation in higher education (HE). It was aimed at adding to student satisfaction and retention in university, particularly for those from families without a background in HE. Previous studies suggested that good pre-entry preparation and support improves students' chances of success in HE. This paper describes how an e-mentoring scheme, called eAccess, was developed to prepare students taking Access courses for learning at undergraduate level. The research showed that eAccess supported students in three ways: learning about university life, helping with the HE application process and developing confidence and effective learning strategies. The paper identifies the potential of e-mentoring schemes to enable students to prepare better for HE through the development of social capital which enables them to tap into 'hot knowledge' – an un-codified and un-institutionalised form of knowledge available amongst mature undergraduates at university.

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e-learning, distance learning, distance education, online learning, higher education, DE, blended learning, MOOCs, ICT, information and communication technology, collaborative learning, internet, interaction, learning management system, LMS,

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