Designing for Informal Mentorship?

This might be a kind of rambly piece but I want to get my thoughts out
while I still have them kind of together.
I was in the middle of tracking down some literature for our
independent reading list for the Student Life and Learning redesign and
this concept of “informal mentoring” came up as related to, but
different than, apprenticeship. I am trying to get access to the
perfect article for this exact thing (but due to issues with the ERIC
database we’ll see…). Anyways, what we are really wanting in the SLL
space is a better sense of community and belonging as well as more
students taking advantage of the mentorship possibilities. The
apprenticeship literature isn’t really of help here, as we are not
wanting to enculturate undergraduates into practices (or careers) in
student services. So this concept of mentorship seems perfect!
Relationships between the undergrads and professional staff can help
students by providing a) access to more information, b) a human point
of contact within the amorphous and faceless “university”, c) students
with much needed personal recommendation letters, and probably other
things that I am not even thinking of. Designing with the intention of
creating informal mentorships is somewhat of an oxymoron but a useful
goal. I think this really helps us to focus and get at the real “need”
that Rafi was pushing us about in class this past week.
I’m sure reading about this concept in the literature will shed some
light on what specifically we should be designing but right now I’m
thinking maybe it’s not about playing games at our series of “open
houses” but instead have group making projects at the open houses that
would promote informal interaction between and among all user groups
and also help to create a feeling of ownership in the space. Immediate
ideas that jump out are creating: a center banner that welcomes people
to the space and a collaborative mural for the long lonely hallway.

-Andi

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