Mentoring encourages individuals to manage their own learning, develop their skills and maximise their potential through the experience and guidance of others (Parsloe & Wray, 2000). It is an important professional development tool, contributing to both objective and subjective career benefits associated with salary, promotion, success, and satisfaction (Allen, 2004). One of the ways PhD students in specific discipline areas in Australia can engage in mentoring is through the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) scheme, which has attracted 14 member universities from across Australia since its launch in 2015. Through a year-long program, IMNIS aims to provide PhD candidates with the opportunity to increase their understanding of the industry sector, learn the skills they need to develop to be successful within the STEM sector and extend their professional network (IMNIS, 2017). To date, the IMNIS evaluation at a national level has measured the relationship processes (e.g. number of meetings), program processes (e.g. attendance at networking events) and relationship outputs (e.g. goals achieved between mentor and mentee). The mentoring measurement matrix (Clutterbuck, 2001) suggests a fourth type of evaluation not currently captured – program outcomes. This type of assessment can help determine the extent to which mentoring affects the competence of mentees in critical areas, such as the skills most requested by employers. Industry submissions to the ACOLA review (ACOLA, 2016) reinforced the sought-after employability skills and knowledge in the job market, including competence in project management, commercial awareness, understanding industry sectors and networking. Additionally, these skills were highlighted by the 2016 pilot University of South Australia (UniSA) IMNIS alumni as being those which mentees focussed on in their mentoring experience. But to what extent does mentoring support the development of these critical career-oriented skills and knowledge? The South Australian university members of IMNIS have established a collaborative research project to pilot an evaluation framework that assesses program outcomes through an employability lens. The purpose of the evaluation is to introduce a progressive approach to evaluation that provides evidence of impact on employability developed as a result of a mentoring experience. This is achieved through a longitudinal evaluation of mentee skills and knowledge over the course of the mentoring scheme. Designed using primary and secondary data, the evaluation measures the importance, understanding, and competence of participants in areas that the program could support at pre, during, and post experience. This paper presents the interim results of the pre and during evaluation with the 47 IMNIS mentees, six months into the 2017/18 program. The session will also provide insights into how the findings will be used to inform tailored interventions at the three South Australian Universities, which will maximise the positive impact on mentee employability.
|Quality in Postgraduate Research, 2018
|17/04/18 → 19/04/18
- skills development
- PhD students