Peer-to-Peer Phone Calls as a Method of Providing Proactive and Personalised Support to Enhance Student Engagement


  • David Gilani Middlesex University
  • Russell Parke Middlesex University
  • Nathan Wilson Middlesex University


Disruptive changes to the lives of students and running of universities, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has forced institutions to adapt their approaches to supporting students (Crawford et al., 2020; Frampton & Smithies, 2021). Student engagement has long been regarded by universities as an important indicator for other aspects of student success (Kahu, 2013), but with many varying approaches and definitions (Ashwin & Mcvitty, 2015). Furthermore, the potential involvement of current students to provide peer-to-peer support has received much attention in previous research (Stigmar, 2016; Raisanen et al., 2020; Ala et al., 2021). What has not been thoroughly investigated is how different communications channels, such as phone calls, can be utilised as methods to provide supportive interventions to students. This article provides insights into how supportive peer-to-peer phone interventions within a context of blended learning can have an impact on both students’ levels of engagement and their confidence levels. This was achieved through a mixed-methods approach utilising results of a student questionnaire, targeted at those who had received such supportive interventions, and a detailed analysis of student engagement and progression data. The results show that phone call interventions by peers can lead to increased short-term levels of student engagement, especially when targeted nearer the start of an academic year. Meanwhile, multiple phone call interventions throughout the year leads to a cumulative effect where students continue to see an increase in engagement beyond the months of individual interventions. It is only when students received multiple phone call interventions that they had a significantly higher likelihood to progress in their studies. The process of attempting to call, but not reaching, students also helps to identify students who are then likely to exhibit lower levels of engagement throughout the rest of the academic year. Students who received a phone call intervention reported increases in confidence levels and awareness of support. Almost nine in ten students reported taking at least one proactive action following their supportive call with a peer.


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How to Cite

Gilani, D., Parke, R. ., & Wilson, N. (2022). Peer-to-Peer Phone Calls as a Method of Providing Proactive and Personalised Support to Enhance Student Engagement. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 4(2), 82–104. Retrieved from