Rethinking personal development in the biosciences - a peer supported approach

Page, Nigel (2023) Rethinking personal development in the biosciences - a peer supported approach. In: Evolving molecular bioscience education; 25-26 May 2023, Manchester, U.K.. (Unpublished)


There may be strong correlation between graduate outcomes and personal development - yet personal development is often approached as a ‘bolt-on’ that students are expected to pick up naturally, and frequently viewed as a self-contained and individual activity. Nonetheless, for successful personal development, students need to develop not only their own self-awareness/identity, but an acute awareness of understanding others, and the context of their own environment. In the biosciences at Kingston University, I saw substantial value in connecting students in their own peer groups to discuss their professional development, work together in supporting each other on a range of employability activities and identifying opportunities and sharing ambitions. This was a move away from an inward-looking tutor-led self-evaluation log, where evidence between 2019-2021 indicated, 75% of the white student population engaged whilst only 51% and 53% of the Black or other mixed-race population engaged, respectively. This indicated a structural bias within our bioscience tutor scheme. This presentation will highlight the steps taken to design a more inclusive personal development experience and the positive impact observed through introducing a tutee peer support network with clear benefits beyond personal development to encompassing relationships, well-being, sense of belonging, and sharing of knowledge/experiences. In the first year of operation, we increased engagement by 23% for all students and closed a 25% awarding gap.

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