Study Buddies at Southern Cross University

Happy Birthday Study Buddies!

Sally Ashton-Hay, Maree Jeffrey, Chris King & Ronny Lindsay

The Study Buddi drop-in program at Southern Cross University just celebrated its first year of operation. The peer support program is popular with students, receives social media appreciation and gained 79% ‘extremely helpful’ or ‘quite helpful’ responses in a recent evaluation survey. The pilot began on the Gold Coast campus in Session 1 2018 before spreading to the Lismore campus. In Session 1 2019, Study Buddies appeared on the Coffs Harbour campus and went online two evenings per week. The next launch may be at the Hotel School in Sydney!

Besides providing first tier academic support in a drop-in style, the Study Buddies are proving influential as leaders in the university community. Some Study Buddies recently voiced academic integrity tips on video for a new student module. The tips covered what it means to submit your own work, and strategies used to practice academic integrity. They offer advice to new students not only about referencing but also about how to deal with disappointing assignment results. Occasionally, an emotionally stressed student needs help booking an appointment with a counsellor. Students in these situations often feel more comfortable talking to a peer rather than to an academic.

The Study Buddi team is internationally diverse and ready for challenges so expanding the program to the online campus was a logical next step. The online Study Buddies are available through the Online Student Lounge, a place to chat and connect. Student Success Advisors meet students in the Online Lounge, organise activities and share stories. When a student asks for a Study Buddi, they meet in a private breakout room space to ask questions and discuss academic study skills on a just-in-time basis. Online students can connect to discuss their work and relax with student leaders in their discipline.

One social media posts came from an identified student:

I would just like to say that I appreciate Pixie in the study buddy program so much. Without her help as an online study buddy once a week, many of us would never have made it through a unit that had no stats prerequisites, yet was full of hard core statistics and raw data. We were panicking and she was so super helpful. I am so thankful for her and this amazing service.

Pixie was pleased to assist the online students and ‘hopes to help online students feel more connected with the uni and other students’. She particularly likes working with Study Buddi and claims that she gets a lot out of it herself. 

The Study Buddi peer drop-in creates a community and now is connecting online students as part of the university community too. In the recent evaluation, students asked for longer hours, more time for Study Buddi and more online sessions. The figure below describes the benefits of having a Study Buddi most frequently mentioned words.

Our Study Buddi team is looking forward to the future and building on the success of this first year. The program has proved highly successful with students asking for longer drop in hours and more online sessions. Study Buddi is going from strength to strength, giving support at grassroots level and creating a community of students helping each other.

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