Enhancing Student learning and development in cooperation with our alumni.
Keywords:Alumni, employability, mentoring, action research
The hospitality subject team have had a long and fruitful relationship with our alumni, however this has developed in a very ad-hoc way. The development of an alumni strategy at University level was the catalyst to reflect on the relationship we have with our alumni and how this could be developed further for the mutual benefit of all. Adopting Lewin's (1958) approach of proceeding " in a spiral of steps, each of which is composed of a circle of planning, action, and fact-finding about the result of action" we have explored the relationship we have with our alumni starting with an audit of that relationship which found that the alumni were involved with 39 areas. The results of the audit were used to develop a number of action points to enhance student learning and development by the subject team in conjunction with our alumni and identifies areas of best practice for further action. One of the key areas of transformation has been the use of alumni mentors, in particular the development of a mentoring system that offers benefits to mentors and mentees. The research also raised the interesting concept, which we are currently investigating, of (the benefits) of intra-generational mentoring, something that appears to be absent from the literature. A google search for intragenerational mentoring finds no hits for intragenerational mentoring but 221,000 hits for intergenerational mentoring reflecting the traditional concept of an older and more experienced person offering guidance to a younger person. The importance of age and experiental difference in the mentor relationship is something we are currently investigating. Some of the key outputs of the research on student learning were found to be in terms of staff development and student work experience this is being fed back into a more coherent strategy to improve the student experience.
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