Design of the Program

There are many decisions that need to be made when forming and running a peer mentoring group, and this perhaps becomes more complex when you consider all members to be of equal importance. The question and corresponding decisions that we came up with when forming the group are shown in Table 15.1.

It was decided at the very beginning that we would be as adaptive and responsive as we could to students’ changing needs. This means that, before each semester, we discuss the current issues that students are having and re-evaluate what we have previously done. We consider the time needed to implement an activity, skill sets available to run it, peer mentors’ passion for the topic, university protocols, school or discipline strategies, finance and many more. Our most successful and ongoing activities include sketching evenings/afternoons w'here students gathered together to sketch and render. Different mentors have tried different strategies in these sessions to encourage attendance and engagement, including themed sketching topics; running through tutorials or sketch-what-you-like days; providing pizza or baked goods; various forms of advertising; and trying out various locations, times and frequencies and online participation options for these events. Students felt that the biggest benefit of these was the sense of community and the opportunity for advice and learning feedback, with students valuing the discussions about design and sketching skills in both digital and analogue formats, and just socialising and networking.

First-year information sessions are also one of our most popular ongoing events. This event is hosted annually by staff and the ID Pilots to help first-year students transition into second year. Students in our Bachelor’s degree are able to make more informed decisions about customising their learning through the selection of study tours, internships, electives, second majors/minors/specialisation units, exchange and opportunities for entering design competitions. For many students, making these decisions and navigating the university process in order to do so can be quite challenging. This event covers general course progression information, followed by ID Pilots presenting information about the study decisions that they have made and showing examples of the assessments and/or outcomes, and discussing the benefits

TABLE 15.1

Basic Decision Making When Forming a Peer Mentoring Group

Questions That Needed Answering

ID Pilot Solutions

What mode of support would we provide?

Both face-to-face and virtual

What platforms for support would we use?

Mixture of organised events, drop-in collaborative learning opportunities, written, visual and video content delivered through social media

What would be our optimum ratio of Mentors to Peers during the activities?

One peer mentor to a group of eight student peers at maximum when face to face, while online content such as infographics or videos would be widely distributed

What are the timeframes for our deliverables?

These are dependent on the activity within the program - some are pre-semester, others focussed on particular weeks during the semester and others are to be carried out all year, or on just one day of the year

Who is responsible for which activities?

This is volunteer dependent, as each mentor would like to select their own areas of involvement based on their areas of skills, interests and availability

Sendee role of peer mentors?

This was decided by the coordinator. As there was no immediate and ongoing funding for the group, the role of the peer mentors had to be completely voluntary. All volunteers are required to sign a legal document prepared by the university to acknowledge that no financial remuneration, or remuneration of any kind, will be provided

How many hours would each volunteer need to contribute each year?

Initially we identified 30 hours as the preferable amount, but this has dropped to 10 hours to accommodate the students’ workload, particularly those in their final year of study. At a bare minimum, the following activities were identified as being essential for all peer mentors to participate in:

  • • Check in regularly with the ID Pilots Facebook Group
  • • Select at least two activities to participate in each year (e.g., sketching evenings, compiling infographic content. Design Development Record feedback sessions. World Industrial Design Day event, etc.)
  • • Encourage student participation and collaboration
  • • Attend meetings with the coordinator and other ID Pilots to reflect, discuss and develop the program at least twice a year

What resources would be available to the group?

Resourcing included the following:

Ongoing funding: NIL

Support from the Industrial Design Discipline in managing the program: Shayne Beaver

Materials: from Faculty, providing physical spaces and resources such as printing of handouts and advertising fliers if required In-kind support: QUT Peer Leader Support programs provides online and face-to-face training for the mentors

Ad hoc funding: there are occasionally funds made available for events to supply catering or prizes for the attendees. This is given on a case-by-case basis by our School



Basic Decision Making When Forming a Peer Mentoring Group

Questions That Needed Answering

ID Pilot Solutions

What is the role of the Program Coordinator (Discussed with the Mentors but also a workload decision made by my supervisor)

Responsibilities of the Program Coordinator include :

  • • Recruit ID pilots
  • • Arrange training
  • • Provide ongoing support for ID Pilots
  • • Promote the program to students and staff
  • • Evaluate and report on the program
  • • Record participation and hours of ID Pilots
  • • Rewards and recognition of ID Pilots, especially through the organisation of volunteered hour certificates given by the QUT Peer Leader Support program
  • • Organising regular meetings and managing/overseeing the ID Pilot social media accounts

of this knowledge to their skills as an Industrial Designer. This is followed by a very informal opportunity for students to approach the staff and ID Pilots over pizza and drinks with further questions they would like answered. The result is that many first- year students can more accurately understand the opportunities available and weigh up what they are most interested in based on other students’ advice, not just staff, and this is seen as being incredibly valuable.

The other activities that have consistently encouraged engagement from students are the Facebook groups run by the ID Pilots. There are 2 groups. One focusses on visualisation, where staff, alumni and students post anything to do with digital or analogue sketching and rendering. This can include design work from university or personal projects, artwork, tutorials on sketching or rendering, designers to follow on social media and other relevant articles, as well as queries about supplies, techniques or software, for example. October in particular is a very active month on this Facebook group as some members participate in Inktober (Inktober, 2019). The second Facebook group is focussed on 3D design modelling and includes posts related to Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Modelling, as well as physical model prototyping. Again, this group encourages university and personal projects, as well as knowledge from articles, other designers and tutorials, information about technology, programs, suppliers or conferences, amongst other topics. ID Pilots are the administrators of these groups and are regular posters of content, feedback or advice in order to foster a sense of community in this online environment. These Facebook groups are also great for advertising and encouraging participation in relevant face-to-face events that the ID Pilots run, particularly the sketching events, which are photographed and shared to the visualisation group. We have tried other social media platforms and strategies, such as Instagram and Pinterest, but these Facebook groups have by far been the most engaged in and supportive environment.

Other activities or events that happen perhaps once or twice a year, or to suit the needs of specific cohorts, are diverse. We have run many successful World Industrial Design Day events, which have included industry panels, design competitions and social events. Skills workshops on various software for CAD or visualisations, Arduino, portfolios and resumes, time management, prototype modelling with cardboard and foam, laser cutting and 3D printing assistance have also been popular. Online resources including “Quick Tips” infographics posted to social media to help with skills like the design process, getting used to university life, group work, project management and time or stress management have also been regularly implemented. We have curated online resources into PDFs or Pinterest boards to help develop skills and inspiration - these have included book recommendations, sketching videos, model-making tips, famous designs and designers. We have also held “Co-Pilot” weekly drop-in sessions for students to work collaboratively on assessments and get advice when needed.

Setting Limits

For some of these ID Pilot activities, we have developed very particular strategies or resources for the peer mentors and/or the students. For example, based on the online and face-to-face leadership training that the ID Pilots received, they have come up with an outline of what a drop-in session or one-on-one peer mentoring session might look like:

  • • Set a time limit on the discussion
  • • Identify the question or problem to be addressed - sometimes it take a few minutes to truly identify what the real question or problem actually is
  • • Outline habits and lifestyle (what motivates and rewards the student)
  • • Provide a strategy (perhaps using unit information such as handouts and lecture notes, ID Pilot or university resources, or online resources)
  • • List personal skills and weaknesses
  • • Prioritise how to move forward based on personal skills and assessment requirements
  • • Planning of timing of tasks - allowing for contingency, efficiency and effectiveness
  • • Get them to reiterate this process (write it dowrn if necessary)

ID Pilots also have rules they developed about what they will and will not do when supporting students in particular settings or situations (Table 15.2).

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