Alexandra Wilson (contributions from Ann Parker and Carolyn Bruce) (UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences)

Asynchronous Submission

(You can reach Alex Wilson via twitter; this talk was originally submitted for the 2020 conference, which was cancelled). The project we describe was conducted prior to the pandemic, and the intervention used has now been successfully adapted, including online delivery.

This talk presents the results of a student project investigating the use of peer-delivered support for first-year undergraduate students. GROW, a framework for structured goal-setting and planning of related actions, has been used in diverse contexts, including teaching and coaching, though empirical evidence to support claims of its success is limited.

There is a growing awareness that additional support systems are needed for university students. Rising numbers of overseas students, possibly facing additional linguistic and cultural challenges, provide further reasons to explore new methods of support. Peer support has become an accepted way of supporting students in higher education. Introducing explicit frameworks and practices, such as GROW, to enable students to support each other might ensure more effective use of existing resources.

All four volunteers for the project were from China. A five-week intervention was provided by one student peer, involving individual weekly GROW sessions. Outcomes across a range of measurements were positive. All participants achieved the majority of their goals and experienced a noticeable but non-significant improvement in well-being and quality of life. Gains were maintained for a minimum of ten weeks. Thematic analysis revealed that the most important benefits of the intervention were perceived as new approaches to goal-setting and goal-attainment, positive feelings about self and self-reflection.

These results highlight the benefits of peer support based on the GROW model and suggest the need for greater support for international students. For the wider education community, the evidence indicates that this is a valuable area for further development.

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