A PERSONALISED APPROACH IN THE GUIDANCE AND SUPPORT OF COLLEGE STUDENTS AT THE FACULTY OF SCIENCES IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CÁDIZ

Since the 1998/99 academic year, the Faculty of Sciences from University of Cádiz (UCA) has been developing an innovative project of personalised mentoring, initially called “Proyecto Brújula”. Since the implementation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) it is called Guidance and Support Project to the Student, commonly known in UCA as PROA. This initiative comes from the need to guide and support the students during their university life, with special emphasis on the first year. In this period, the student's life changes radically, not only regarding the educational aspect; as they evolve as students, they do so as adult citizens and human beings. Regarding the new educational setting, they will encounter doubts and problems, such as new categories of teachers or peers, unawareness of core courses within the degrees, English knowledge requirements, permanence regulations, the choice of the most appropriate itinerary, double curricular itineraries, terms in other universities, completion of Degree Final Project, company placements... For all this, the mentorship job is more intense in the freshman year, but it is still necessary throughout the following courses, although it is focused on more specific aspects.

In this work, we show the design of the orientation and support program for students at the Faculty of Sciences. We also present an evaluation about its effectiveness and the level of participation of students in each course within the same degree (1st to 4th), since the implementation of the EHEA. The Faculty of Sciences was the first centre of the University of Cádiz to implement a personalised mentoring project, more than 20 years ago. This project takes care of the students of the degrees taught at the Faculty: Biotechnology, Oenology, Mathematics, Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. It focuses on helping students during their higher education to achieve a better personal and professional development. From 1st year a Mentor-Teacher is assigned to each student who will act as a personal mentor during all courses. This continuity establishes a close connection between them. Taking advantage of this personal association, the Mentor-Teacher can detect some difficulties such as integration issues during the first months, learning or organisation problems and decision-making. In some cases, the relationship between the Mentor-Teacher and the student is not very smooth, so it is not possible to share doubts or academic problems for the students. For this reason, in the last three years, and in collaboration with the University's Psychological and Psychopedagogical Attention Service, a complementary system of "peer mentoring" has been implemented, where students from higher courses also act as mentors.

The organisation chart of PROA includes:
a) the Dean’s office team;
b) the PROA coordinator of the Faculty;
c) the PROA coordinators of each degree;
d) Mentor-teachers;
e) Mentor-students;
f) New students (1st year students, freshmen);
g) Students of higher courses (senior).

This program designs and carries out the following activities or resources:
- Recruitment and training of mentor-teacher and mentor-students
- Planning of the annual mentoring activities
- Coordination meetings and follow-up of the activities
- Mentor's Guide, questionnaires, course on the virtual campus…
- "ConnectCiencia" app with information for students
- Orientation sessions: Reception Day in July; Welcome Days in September; others…