One size does not fit all: Tailoring Peer Support Programmes for optimal student engagement
Peer Support Programmes (PSPs) have long been a feature of student engagement activity at the University of Exeter. Peer Support at Exeter started over eight years ago, with just two discipline-specific programmes. Since then, the number of programmes has increased significantly, but throughout this period of growth the bespoke nature of the programmes has been retained. All PSPs are student-led and, crucially, they are tailored to meet the specific needs of the student group involved. We, the authors, are firmly of the opinion that ‘one size does not fit all’ and that tailoring every programme to the specific needs of each student group is vital if it is to be successful. It is now recognised that engagement in interventions such as PSPs can play an important role in improving student retention and success (Thomas, 2012) and that an understanding of ‘local contexts’ can enhance the efficacy of such programmes (Thomas et al, 2017). However, this was not as well understood when PSPs were first introduced at Exeter. This short paper seeks to present an overview of the evolution of PSPs at the University of Exeter, which may provide others with a useful insight into the development of tailored PSPs for optimal student engagement.
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