Allocating mentors to students for online mentoring
Researchers from the Mechanism Design and Education Economics groups of Institute of Economics, CERS have joined forces with a charity organisation and an e-learning platform to create a web platform for assigning students to mentors in Hungary. The matching runs are conducted once a week to form mentoring pairs and groups based on the needs and preferences of the participants.
In Hungary, after the escalation of the COVID-19 virus, the government announced the closure of all schools from 16 March (both primary and secondary schools for students at ages between 6 and 18), and the schools were requested to start online/distance education immediately. There was no central recommendation about the technology and methodology used, so this was decided mainly by the board of each school using a wide range of online platforms or just sending the weekly assignments by post. Many students had difficulties to follow the distance education, partly because of the lack of equipment or internet connection, but also because the parents were not be able to help them at home, due to their lack of knowledge in special subjects of just because of being at work. At the same time, many people, especially the elderly ones had to stay at home with some spare time. Furthermore, there is also a scheme for secondary school students for voluntary work in Hungary, for which they can get credit, and very few possibilities remained for such services under the strict social distancing rules imposed. Therefore, there was both a large need for mentoring, and also a significant amount of potential mentors, both elderly and young.
A project was proposed in early April and then officially started on 30 April in a cooperation of three parties. On behalf of the Institute of Economics of CERS, the Mechanism Design and the Education Economics research groups offered their help in designing a mechanism for allocating students to mentors and working out the preference-based priorities. The impact of the scheme will also be monitored and studied by them. The Hungarian Reformat Church Aid is a humanitarian organisation, which has a link to a governmental action group devoted to coordinate the voluntary help in Hungary. The third party is \#school, a private company providing an online teaching platform, which became used by 100k registered users soon after the online education started. The first matching run will be conducted on 3 May based on the registrations at the application’s website. The primary goal of the optimisation is to facilitate as many mentoring hours as possible in subjects requested by the students and offered by the mentors.
Link to paper here.
Institute of Economics, CERS, Budapest
Posted by: Tommy Andersson