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Alumni mentors reduce the feeling of “distance” in distance learning


Students often report feeling isolated when studying via distance learning. Alumni also want to remain connected to LSHTM after their graduation. These feelings of isolation and a yearning for connection resonate with staff supporting distance learning as well.       

In a recent journal article, Dr Anna Foss reports on the findings from an evaluation of an alumni group mentorship scheme introduced to support students undertaking a research project on the Distance Learning Public Health MSc at LSHTM.

Using a ‘students as partners’ approach, researchers observed the emergence of ‘triadic partnerships’ through the mentorship scheme in creating strong links between former students, current students and staff. 

The wealth of complementary skills across these three subteams led to the successful co-creation of the scheme, working as co-researchers in the evaluation and co-production of the published paper. Confidence grew among all subteams.

Alumni mentors add value by offering credible and relatable authenticity in supporting students beyond what staff alone are able to provide. 

Since the scheme’s launch in 2018, student engagement has increased, with high levels of reported satisfaction and positive feedback.

The project was funded through the Centre for Online and Distance Education Teaching and Research Award scheme.