International Education Journal

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Inspired Learning: Creating engaged teaching and learning environments for university and school students through university to school mentor programs 


Catherine Koerner 
Flinders University, School of Education 
catherine.koerner@flinders.edu.au 

John Harris 
Flinders University, School of Education 
john.harris@flinders.edu.au 

 

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Abstract

The Inspire Peer Mentor Program (Inspire) operates of Flinders University in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, and has received funding from the Department of Family and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA). The experience gained during the past three years has indicated that a mentoring program between the University and schools located in its local region, which includes key areas of low socio-economic status, can be a major form of community engagement for Higher Education. Inspire received a commendation in the recent Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) Report (2006) as a strategy for community engagement. This article is written in two sections. The first will use the experience gained from Inspire to discuss the Higher Education sector's involvement in school-based mentoring programs as a strategy for community engagement. Catherine Koerner's analysis of the literature on mentoring, finds that mentoring programs can be an effective intervention with communities to increase school retention rates and engagement with formal learning if they are adequately resourced. She argues that the implication of this finding for the tertiary sector is that mentoring programs can be a strategic form of community engagement. In the second section, John Harris provides a case study of the adoption of the school-based mentoring model by the Teaching Experience Office of the School of Education at Flinders University as one example of how mentoring is being embedded within faculty programs. Anecdotal evidence suggests that those preservice teachers who had participated, as Inspire mentors were better prepared for their teaching practicums. As a result, second year education students are placed on 20 days of school experience over two semesters to better prepare them for their teaching practicums in their third and fourth years of their Education Degree. 

University to school mentoring, engaged teaching and learning environments, Higher Education community engagement

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Koerner, C. and Harris, J. (2007) Inspired Learning: Creating engaged teaching and learning environments for university and school students through university to school mentor programs. International Education Journal, 8 (2), 354-364.
http://iej.com.au

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