"STUDENTS HELPING STUDENTS TO ACHIEVE". THIS UNIQUE STUDENT LEARNING ADVISER MENTORS (SLAMS) PROGRAM PROVIDES FIRST YEAR HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS WITH A STRONG FOUNDATION SUPPORTING ACADEMIC SUCCESS
A plethora of research exists exploring models of peer support for student learning in Higher Education. This paper reports on a unique student-led, student-run academic mentoring program conducted in the College of Business, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. The Student Learning Adviser Mentors (SLAMs) program has approximately 100 volunteer Business students who have achieved a High Distinction (HD) or Distinction (DI) in any of 14 first and second year subjects. They support new and commencing students with their academic studies. Each SLAM offers two hours a week for eight weeks each semester. Students access SLAM support by attending the ‘home room’ which is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. SLAMS is coordinated by two students, employed by the University during their intern year (3rd year of their degree), thereby gaining valuable work experience while ensuring a high quality mentoring service.
One of the University’s key mission statements ‘Global in outlook and action, offering our students and staff a global passport to learning and work’ aligns with the SLAM’s mission statement students helping students to achieve. SLAMS crosses cultural barriers by providing opportunities for the development of a partnership-based learning environment between local and international students. This program is now in its sixth year and evidence indicates that this form of mentoring actively integrates international and local students in a common cause: assisting students in ‘learning how to learn’. Nearly 1000 students used the SLAMs service in Semester 1, 2010. This paper demonstrates that SLAMs is a sustainable, quality support program, valued by both academic teaching staff and the student community. Mentors and mentees have an enhanced engagement with the university community, increasing motivation and desire to succeed with their academic programs. We believe that this unique model of academic peer assistance provides an example of ‘best practice’ in the provision of student support services.