Mentoring and Academic Advising Needs of Institutional Based Students in Kenyatta University
Githinji, Felicity Wanjiru
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Mentoring and Academic Advising (MAA) are interventions used in Education Institutions to improve the quality of students‘ academic life and learning outcomes. In higher education institutions, MAA services target improving learning processes and outcomes for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and non-traditional students. Given the rising enrolments of these group of students in Kenya public universities, this study was designed to explore the nature of MAA needs that the students have and what the institutions were doing to provide such services. This was a case study of Institutional Based Students (IBS) of Kenyatta University (KU). The objectives of the study were to explore the MAA needs of IBS; challenges they encountered in accessing MAA services, suggestions on how MAA could be expanded to incorporate the academic and welfare needs of IBS and propose interventions that KU can undertake to meet the MAA needs of IBS and improve the quality of IBPs. Kenyatta University was purposively sampled because it was the only public university which had an established directorate for student mentoring services at the time of study. The respondents were the sampled IBS enrolled in School of Education (SoE), Dean, SoE, Dean of Students, Director of Mentoring Programme and fourteen lecturers identified as student academic mentors. Stratified and systematic random sampling was used to identify the sample size according to year of study and gender. A total of three hundred and twenty students from the SoE were sampled. Data were collected using questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions. The data were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. The findings of the study show that despite KU having a directorate of mentoring, MAA services had not been designed to focus on the needs of IBS. Indeed, 77.2% of the IBS reported that they were unaware of such services. Despite this, 95.9% of the IBS indicated that they considered MAA to be critical in terms of advising them on non-academic and academic related issues that they encountered in the institution. In the absence of formal MAA services for the IBS, they indicated that they only relied on information provided during lecture sessions, some university student documents, and informal contact with lecturers. Respondents to the study all affirmed the urgency of expanding the services of the mentoring directorate to incorporate the needs of IBS along the operational lines that the services for regular undergraduate students are offered. The findings concluded that IBS at KU required MAA services and the lack of the services affected the quality of their academic life. The study recommends that the mentoring directorate be expanded to incorporate the MAA needs of IBS, students be allocated mentors and academic advisors on admission; institutionalize mentorship by broadening and strengthening the existing mentoring programme to target students in other modes of learning, to developed virtual mentoring platforms where the students can interact with mentors either individually or at the open learning centres, on-line. Mentors to receive training in MAA to improve on their mentoring skills and students‘ in-service training be organized for regular and IBS.