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Title: Mechanical engineering students’ perceptions of workplace mentoring: A case study at a South African University of Technology
Authors: Ngonda, Tiyamike 
Shaw, Corrinne 
Kloot, Bruce 
Keywords: Workplace mentoring;work placement;students’ perceptions
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Australasian Association for Engineering Education
Source: Ngonda, T., Shaw, C. & Kloot, B. 2017. Mechanical engineering students’ perceptions of workplace mentoring: A case study at a South African University of Technology. (In: Proceedings, AAEE2017 Conference Manly, Sydney, Australia, 10-13 December 2017. p. 1-8). []
Conference: Proceedings, AAEE2017 Conference Manly, Sydney, Australia, 10-13 December 2017 
Abstract: CONTEXT Work placement, a form of work Integrated learning (WIL), is a planned period of learning in industry that is intended to give students practical experience of their field as well as meet specified learning objectives. Researchers claim that effective mentoring is one of the antecedents of successful student learning during placement. In South Africa, the National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering has a prescribed work placement duration of twelve months. From 2019, the work placement duration will be reduced to six months. The reduced duration demands accelerated workplace learning, that can be achieved through adoption of strategies such as effective mentoring, to offset the WIL benefit tempering effect of the shortened duration PURPOSE The research question for the study as follows: How do various conceptions and elements of workplace mentoring influence mechanical engineering students’ perceptions of its effectiveness? APPROACH This paper reports on a qualitative study that is based on 21 cases of mechanical engineering students from a single university of technology in South Africa. Qualitative data was collected through interviews, and from student work placement logbooks. The data was analysed using the Miles and Huberman’s approach to develop patterns, themes, and clusters which were then compared with the core concepts of traditional and cognitive apprenticeship frameworks. RESULTS It emerged from the study that the efficacy of mentoring during work placement depends on the interaction of pre-placement expectations versus work practicalities, perceived mentor qualities, mentoring functions, mentor-protégé relationship and the learning environment. Pre-placement expectations clouded the students’ judgement of the quality of mentoring that they received during their placement. Unrealised expectations affected how they perceived their mentor, how they participated in the mentor-protégé relationship and their response to the industry mentors’ mentoring functions. The learning environment during placement provided an opportunity for students to recognise limitations in their own knowledge and afforded them the opportunity to develop learning strategies that they can use to acquire industry specific heuristic tactics that are essential for competent performance. CONCLUSIONS The study found that pre-placement expectations vs work practicalities-, mentoring functions, mentor-protégé relationship and the learning environment are the key drivers of the mentoring process and the resulting workplace learning. The study also found that most WIL mentoring is ad hoc. Industry mentors adopt mentoring functions that are not aligned with a particular apprenticeship approach. The adopted techniques fit in-between traditional and cognitive apprenticeships
Description: Conference Paper
Appears in Collections:Eng - Conference Papers

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