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Training for Peer Mentoring

Advantages of Peer Mentoring

It is important for engagement reasons to highlight the potential benefits of peer mentoring to both mentors and mentees.



· An essential yet less frequently mentioned advantage that students forget about mentorship schemes, is the opportunity to be a part of a wider cultural change – the chance of impacting positively on someone else’s experience of university. As mentees are often freshers, this has an important significance. This responsibility offers plenty of chances in self-development and of establishing an environment that encourages openness and facilitates problem solving.

· Mentors are actively developing core skills and understanding of self-development, time-management, active-listening, empathy, etc during their experience. These skills are challenging to learn and actively use as students; therefore, the environment of mentoring is perfect to gain skills which are also ranked highly in lists that rank the most sought-after skills by employers. Participating in the mentorship scheme offer students future career development & professional competencies.

· Improved reasoning skills

· Improved communication and interpersonal skills

· Greater feeling of connection to university; increased self-esteem; increased empathy

· Improved conflict resolution skills; greater patience; improved organisational skills

· Increased “cultural capital” which helps mentors to understand their own experiences and challenges

· Enhanced employability skills

· Sense of fulfilment and personal growth

· Through participating in the mentorship scheme, mentees also gain a sense of belonging and identity which can be crucial in a first-year undergraduates as well as post-graduates. This identity has many layers, including academic, social and career

· Gain practical advice, encouragement and support​

· Combat isolation and imposter syndrome, promoting a sense of belonging​

· Share knowledge and skills, learning from the experiences of a peer​

· Increased social and academic confidence​

· Empowerment to make decisions​

· Develop communication, study and personal skills​

· Develop strategies for dealing with both personal and academic issues​

· Identify goals and establish a sense of direction​

· Gain valuable insight into the next stage of their university career


Conversation Starters

Mentors and mentees often suggest the usefulness of conversation starter questions to lift off some of the nervousness and anxiety that builds in people before meeting their mentor/mentee.



· Ask about mentee’s familiarity with mentorship schemes. It is important to be aware if they had any previous experience with mentoring or if this is their first time trying it out as this could explain some possible future problems/achievements.

o “Is this your first time in a mentoring relationship?”

o If applicable: “What was your previous experience like?”

· Asking about the mentor’s background and previous experience can be the icebreaker between the mentor and mentee. It helps building trust and the mentee has the opportunity to understand the background of the mentor better.

o “Why did you choose to become a mentor? What’s the best advice that you received when you were in my situation?”


· Helping to understand and reach the mentee’s goals is one of the main tasks of the mentor; however, not every mentee applies to the mentorship scheme with a clear goal in mind. In this case, identifying a challenge might the mentor’s first task, and overcoming it together with the mentee the second.

o “Is there any specific goals you want to accomplish within the next x months? Is there a specific challenge you’re currently facing (maybe regarding academic help or future career aspects)?”

· Finding out details about their experiences and failures/successes could also enhance the first session and get more comfortable around each other.

o “What do you wish you had known before starting university as a first year/master’s/postgraduate student?”

o “How would you have done things differently?”

· A few questions about the mentee’s values and mindset can reveal a lot about their personality and could help easing them into the conversation. It also helps the mentor understand them better which is useful for a successful mentoring relationship.

o “What inspires and motivates you?”

o “What quality do you value and admire in other people?”


· Assisting in the mentee’s skill-building is one of the most important job of the mentor. Therefore, if there is any specific skill that the mentee would like to put the emphasis on, or has any questions about it, it ensures a swift starting point for the meetings.

o “Do you have any tips for dealing with (e.g.) nervousness when speaking to new people?”

o “Do you have templates you use to help plan and organize your tasks?”


Tools for Mentors: Communication

  • Open-ended questions

It might be a little tough to get conversation started when mentors are first getting to know their mentee. Using open-ended questions can help to get the ball rolling.

A close-ended question is a question that can be answered very simply - generally with just one word, such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This type of questions can limit the depth of the conversation.

Open-ended questions, on the other hand, tend to elicit lengthier response and help mentors ask others about their opinions and feelings and they can often lead the way to deeper conversation.

Example: “Why did you choose to study Chemistry at Warwick?”

  • Active Listening

Active listening is a way of listening that affirms the speaker and lets them know that you are interested and that you understand. Try out the following tips to practice active listening:

  • Paraphrase what the mentee has said to make sure you understand. Say, “What I’m hearing is… Do I understand you correctly?”
  • Signal to your mentee that they have your attention. If possible, try not to become distracted, or if distraction unavoidably occur, suggest a solution to the distraction before continuing the conversation (e.g., “It’s a little noisy inside this café, isn’t it? Shall we try sitting at the tables outside?”)
  • While the mentee is speaking, don’t think about your response or the next question you want to ask. Just listen.
  • Encourage further reflection on the topic of discussion without imposing solutions, e.g., “And what do you think about that?”, “And how did that make you feel?”
  • Body language

Body language refers to all of the ways that we communicate with others without using words. According to research, nonverbal language accounts for up to 70% of all communication. Therefore, it is very important, if possible, to make sure mentors are sending the right messages to their mentees with their body language.

Traditional good tips for good body language include leaning forward and maintaining eye contact. Considering paying attention to your posture when interacting with your mentee, which might send them signals about your mood, your interest in them, and your trustworthiness. Try to keep your body open and relaxed, with arms loose and uncrossed. Most importantly, act naturally!

It should of course be noted that a lot of assumptions are made about body language, and it is often only a superficial guide for what someone is feeling or trying to communicate (e.g., maintaining eye contact or remaining still is not a simple matter for everyone, and they may find stimulating activity soothing in social settings).

  • “I” Statements

“I” statements are sentences that start with an expression of your personal opinion or experience. You can only be sure of your own experiences and feelings – never those of others. Using an “I” statement to clarify where your opinions come from ensures that you don’t offend anyone by speaking for them. Example: Instead of saying “You hate essay writing!” try saying something like “I noticed that you seemed frustrated while talking about your most recent assignment the other day, could you tell me about that?”

Using “I” statements can be particularly useful during a difference of opinions. Instead of sounding accusatory, which could make things worse, it will help you understand your mentee’s perspectives. Example: Instead of saying “You’re so irresponsible! You let me down,” try saying “I was looking forward to spending time with you the other day and I was worried when I didn’t see you. I’d like to know why you weren’t you able to make it – can you tell me?”

As you can see, “I” statements enable you to learn about your mentee. The first “you” statement in each example only shows the mentor’s assumptions about the mentee.

  • Giving Feedback

Feedback is an observation or opinion communicated from one person to another. Feedback can be positive or negative, and when done appropriate both types can be constructive and useful.

When providing feedback to your mentee, try to follow these guidelines:

  • Be honest and respectful. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to hear negative feedback.
  • Make observations, not evaluations. Provide examples of what you have observed when you give feedback - don’t evaluate or provide personal judgment. Observations will help your mentee replicate good behaviours and recognize behaviours that aren’t constructive.
  • Provide empathy. Try your best to put yourself in their shoes to understand their perspectives.
  • Be timely. Give feedback privately when you won’t be disturbed or distracted and your mentee won’t be embarrassed. Make it forward-looking so that the mentee can apply it in future scenarios.

Tools for Mentors: Effective Questioning Techniques

This section was taken from

Start, Continue, Finish Model (The SCF Model)


Conversation starters and questions


Start the conversation

What would you like to talk about today?

How have things been going since we last met? How are you today?

What have you achieved since we last met? What shall we focus on today in this meeting? What’s going well for you at present?

Where would you like to start today?

How about we start reviewing your goals? What’s been happening since we last met? What do you want to get out of this meeting? What would you like to discuss today?

What do you want to achieve from today’s meeting?

How about we have a look at…..

Tell me a bit more about what’s going on…..


Keep the conversation going

So, what would happen if….?

What are your thoughts about this?

What could your next step be?

How can I help?

Tell me more about this….

How important is it for you to…..

Who else can help you with this?

How will you know when you have succeeded/achieved what you set out to do? How do you feel about what we have discussed so far?


Finish the Meeting

What are you going to do before our next meeting?

How do you feel about what we have discussed today?

What can you do before we next meet?

What do you want to work on next?

What questions do you still have?

What is the next step for you?

Let’s make a date and time for our next meeting

Describe, Evaluate, Value, Action Model (D.E.V.A Model)





The Mentee describes their current situation – roles, responsibilities, successes, issues, professional and personal development needs. The Mentor encourages and helps the Mentee identify what they want to use the mentoring support for. This is an opportunity for the Mentee to explore what they would like to change and identify their goals. Agreement is reached between the Mentee and Mentor as to the purpose and process of the mentoring partnership.

o Current situation

o Identify goals

o Clarify purpose of the mentoring support

o Agree on mentoring partnership focus and process

What are your career aspirations?

What would you like to achieve during your degree?

When are you most motivated?


The Mentee is encouraged to reflect on their current situation, skills and capabilities and evaluate how well they are managing, what internal or external factors are influencing them and identify their strengths and areas for development. The Mentee analyses how much each of these factors will impact on their goal achievement and their engagement in the mentoring partnership.

o Reflect on self and current situation

o Identify what is going well/not so well

o Complete a skill/knowledge check

o Evaluate strengths and areas for development

o Identify influences of internal and external factors

How important are your current goals?

Is there anything stopping your from achieving your goals?


The Mentee spends some time focusing on the things they value about themselves and the value they place on certain aspects of their personal and professional lives. The Mentee identifies what is important, who is important and the value placed on each of these factors. The Mentor encourages the Mentee to explore how the things of value could influence the success and outcomes of the mentoring support they receive.

o Identify who is important in personal and professional lives

o Identify what is important

o Determine the value placed on work/job role/career/expectations/work-life balance

o Explore how the key values could influence the mentoring outcomes

What are you passionate about?

How do you measure your success?



This is the stage when the Mentee determines the actions they will take and activities they will engage in that will contribute to the achievement of their goal/s. This stage also involves the Mentee actively engaging in the identified activities, the Mentor supporting them throughout this process via the mentoring partnership meetings. The Action stage also involves the Mentee regularly measuring the outcomes of their goal achievement. This may result in a re-evaluation and/or re-configuration of their original goals or the identification of new goals.

o Identification of actions and activities to support achievement of goals

o Active engagement in goal achievement

o Active engagement in activities to achieve goal/s

o Measurement of goal achievement outcomes

o Mentor support throughout the whole process

What two or three actions could you take right now that would have the most impact on your skill development, knowledge gain, career enhancement, job satisfaction?