The Physics Mentoring Project has worked with schools across Wales since 2019 delivering an in-person six-week mentoring programme. In Spring 2021, the delivery of the mentoring programme was moved online. The project’s external evaluators, Ondata Research, have produced two case studies on the impact of the project on participating mentees and mentors, including insight into the progress of the new online format of the project.

Impact on mentors

Participation in the project as a mentor leads to a range of benefits with respect to skills, confidence, and employability. Mentors will develop key skills such as time management, communication, and organisational skills; some mentors even comment that the training has given them more confidence when participating in online group work or assignments requiring a presentation. The opportunity also provides valuable experience which can be included in a CV, particularly important for mentors who are interested in a career in teaching.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a difficult time for many students. Mentors have commented that being a part of the Physics Mentoring Project has made them feel less isolated as they are part of a wider community with a common purpose and amongst people they can relate to – and we are glad to hear they have built new friendships as a result. The project team and colleagues from Creo Skills involved in the training focussed on developing a supportive community, which one mentor described as a safe, friendly and inclusive environment (read more on this in Hanna’s blog it all starts with training).

Impact on mentees

Previous evaluation reports have shown that participation in mentoring leads to an increase in the numbers of mentees intending to take Physics A-level and go into STEM-related careers. This impact extends to girls who participated in the project, who are broadly underrepresented in Physics A-level classrooms. It has also been shown that the project leads to an improvement in all mentees’ impressions of physics, regardless of whether they go on to choose the subject. Other benefits to mentees include the opportunity to work in smaller groups, improved communication and problem-solving skills and increased awareness of the opportunities available to them in terms of future study and careers. Teachers and mentees have also reported an increase in the mentees’ confidence, which develops as they discover how relevant physics is to them.

The positive impacts on the mentees are, of course, important for the schools and teachers taking part but there are other wider benefits including increased profile of physics within the school community, opportunity for professional development of teachers supporting the project and the development of a relationship with a university.

Online mentoring sessions

Online sessions with mentors have only been running for a short time but the feedback so far from teachers and mentees has been very positive, with mentors delivering fun and engaging sessions. Mentees have enjoyed being able to talk to the mentors and have managed to build relationships with mentors in a short space of time.

Read the full case studies

The project team is grateful to Ondata Research for their work toward producing these case studies, which are available to read in full, here: