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Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning

 
Three women having a discussion over coffee

Research question

To what extent are Black British students adequately supported by mentors or mentoring networks at Cambridge?

 

Project team

  • Freya Lewis, undergraduate student reading History
  • Anaya Guleid, undergraduate student reading Human, Social and Political Sciences

 

Project report

Report: Mentoring Project (PDF)

 

Abstract

The aim of this research project was to investigate whether Black British students at Cambridge are provided with adequate academic mentors, and whether mentors were considered by students to be a useful educational strategy to narrow the awarding gap.

We conducted interviews with our co-researchers and disseminated a survey to members of the Cambridge University African Caribbean Society asking about the formal and informal mentoring currently experienced by other Black British students, and their perceptions of their value at Cambridge, where there are a range of other support and mentoring schemes not specific to Black students, such as College 'families'.

We found that most Black students in our sample had not been mentored by another Black student, nor had engaged as a mentor themselves, though the majority recognised that Black student-student menroting could be very valuable for a range of academic, peer support and social reasons. However, there were some concerns about the undue burden this mentoring would place on students.

Regarding staff-student mentoring, students believed that staff were generally supportive but that Faculties were not always equipped to deal with the specific academic or welfare needs of Black students, which could have an impact on their academic performance; for instance where students were not supported to follow their research interests, particularly where these touched on topics related to race.