Why volunteer? What stimulates involvement in a stem peer learning facilitation program?

Christine A. Devine, James Brady, Hayley Moody, Therese Wilson, Yulin Liu, Richard Medland, Sharmila Gamlath, Dulip Herath, Eleanor Dyson, Jennifer Tredinnick, Ian Lightbody

Abstract


There is an acknowledged need for strategies to enhance participation, learning and graduate capabilities for students engaged in STEM disciplines given the central importance of these skills to the future economy. The STIMulate program provides support for learning across maths, science and IT to all QUT coursework students regardless of course of study or campus. Central to the success of the program is the provision of face-to-face peer support by a team of high-achieving, experienced student volunteers; the Peer Learning Facilitators (PLFs). Understanding the motivations and expectations of the diverse team of STIMulate student volunteers is necessary to appropriately manage the program. A survey instrument was adapted from the Volunteer Functions Inventory (Clary, Snyder, Ridge, Copeland, Stukas, Haugen & Meine, 1998) to assess three drivers of participation - autonomy, mastery and purpose, and provided to all commencing PLFs at the initial 2016 training session. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) identified three classifications of motivators for beginning PLFs: relationships and experiences (most important criteria), intrinsic motivators and extrinsic motivators (least important criteria). The findings of this work represent an important first step towards enhancing evidence-based practice for the management, reward and recognition of student volunteers engaged in academic support programs.

Keywords


support-for-learning, volunteers, recruitment, intrinsic motivators

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