Doctor of Philosophy
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Kinsella, Elizabeth Anne
Student peer mentorship, in which a more senior student mentors a more junior student for at least one term, is on the rise in health professions education programs. The research presented adopts an embodied hermeneutic phenomenological approach to investigate student peer mentors’ perceptions of teaching, learning and relationships within peer mentorship interactions in the context of one collaborative nursing program in Ontario, Canada.
This dissertation is composed of five integrated manuscripts, in addition to introductory, body-map findings, and conclusion chapters. The first manuscript describes the theoretical foundations of the doctoral research, drawing on phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concepts of embodiment, intersubjectivity and intercorporeality. The second manuscript offers an overview of the embodied hermeneutic phenomenological methodology and methods utilized in this research. The third manuscript introduces the practice of body-mapping as an approach to foster embodied reflection; through elucidation of an ‘auto/body-mapping’ process, that shows how body-mapping can be used to examine educators’ assumptions about teaching and learning and make embodied forms of knowledge visible. The fourth and fifth manuscripts present findings from the study, reporting on student peer mentors’ perceptions of engaging in a student peer mentorship program. The fourth manuscript presents student peer mentors’ perceptions of teaching in a peer mentorship program, highlighting the core theme of ‘commitment to mentee growth’ and considering seven related themes and implications for health professional education. The fifth manuscript presents student peer mentors’ perceptions of relationships, centered by a core theme of ‘nurturing a trusting learning community,’ with five associated themes.
This thesis contributes knowledge pertaining to embodied, relational and pedagogical factors that shape the work student peer mentors contribute through participation in a peer mentorship program in undergraduate education. This research further contributes theoretically informed insights about considering embodiment and intersubjectivity in health professional education, and opens several theoretical, methodological and ethical discussions. This work has implications for post-secondary faculty and others who offer and manage student peer mentorship programs, for students in peer mentor and mentee roles, and for health professional education.
Summary for Lay Audience
This research examines peer mentorship within a nursing education program. Peer mentors’ perceptions of experiences of teaching, learning and relationships are investigated. The research aims to better understand peer mentorship as an approach to health professions education. Participants engaged in interviews and a new, arts-based research method called body-mapping. The thesis is composed of five articles, in addition to introductory, body-map findings, and conclusion chapters. The first article describes the theoretical foundations, using ideas from philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty including: 1) embodiment: the body offers a means of understanding our world through perception; 2) intersubjectivity: understanding occurs through expression of our subjective interpretations in relation with others; and 3) intercorporeality: understanding each other socially happens through interactions between people’s bodily actions, gestures, and speech. The second article provides an overview of the approach, which I’ve called ‘embodied hermeneutic phenomenological methodology’, which was used to conduct this research. The third article introduces body-mapping, an arts-based method which aims to make embodied forms of knowledge visible. The fourth article presents findings related to student peer mentors’ perceptions of teaching in a peer mentorship program; there was a core theme of ‘commitment to mentee growth’ and seven related themes: ‘sharing responsibility for learning,’ ‘moderating stress,’ ‘mediating power relations,’ ‘navigating unknown processes,’ ‘valuing creative approaches,’ ‘offering generous acceptance,’ and ‘facilitating confidence.’ The fifth article presents findings related to student peer mentors’ perceptions of relationships, centered by a core theme of ‘nurturing a trusting learning community’ with five associated themes: ‘attunement to mentees,’ ‘commonality of experiences,’ ‘friends with boundaries,’ ‘reciprocity in learning,’ and ‘varied learning spaces.’ An additional chapter presents themes depicted in the body-maps: ‘warmth,’ ‘light,’ ‘openness,’ ‘action,’ ‘growth,’ and ‘connection.’ This work has implications for post-secondary faculty who design, offer and manage student peer mentorship programs, for students in peer mentor and mentee roles, and for health professional education.
Harrison, Helen F., "Peer Mentorship in an Undergraduate Health Professional Education Program: An Embodied Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8307.