Outcomes for Peer-Based Mentors in a University-Wide STEM Persistence Program: A Three-Year Analysis

By Spaulding, Dean T.; Kennedy, Jelane A. et al. | Journal of College Science Teaching, March-April 2020 | Go to article overview

Outcomes for Peer-Based Mentors in a University-Wide STEM Persistence Program: A Three-Year Analysis


Spaulding, Dean T., Kennedy, Jelane A., Rozsavolgyi, Amanda, Colon, Wilfredo, Journal of College Science Teaching


First-year undergraduate STEM students changing majors to nonSTEM fields have become a concern heard around the country (Dagley, Georgiopoulos, Reece, & Young, 2016). First identified over 20 years ago (Seymour & Hewitt, 1997), today's statistics reveal that upwards of 60% of STEM majors change their area of study or drop out of school altogether (Hayes, 2007; Schneider, Bickel, & Morrison-Shetlar, 2015). Institutions around the country have studied the problem and have tried to address this issue in multiple ways (Blackburn, 2017; Bruffee, 1999). Peer mentoring continues to be one of the most popular methods institutions use to retain STEM students in their chosen programs and increase overall student persistence in STEM (Bahr & Norton, 2006). For example, Dagley et. al., found higher retention and graduation rates for students who received peer mentoring, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Despite this "popular" method, little has been done in the way of large-scale research efforts to better understand peer mentoring, particularly from the perspective of the peer mentors themselves.

What is peer mentoring?

According to Packard, Marciano, Payne, Bledzki, and Woodard (2014), peer mentoring is a process where an older, more experienced person in the field or practice provides "emotional, academic or career growth support for a new person (e.g., a student) through their shared activities" (p. 434). Mentoring provides a different experience for students to learn and grow for both mentees and their peer mentors (Stigmar, 2016). Despite the focus on peer-based mentoring and persistence in STEM education, the majority of research has focused on the outcomes of first-year students who participate in peer mentoring and not the peer mentors who actually deliver these services (Page & Hanna, 2008).

Research on peer mentors

According to Amaral and Vala (2009), most of the research conducted on the outcomes for mentors have been somewhat relaxed. In some instances, mentor findings have been referred to as "add ons" or "additional" findings to the core investigation. The few studies conducted have found that peer-based mentors in STEM have changed epistemological beliefs of the mentors themselves about teaching and learning, as well as improved communication, organization, and leadership skills; however, it has also been noted that these studies have typically involved small samples of mentors, with approximately 5 to 40 mentors total (Amaral & Vala, 2009).

This article provides a program overview for a large university-wide peer mentoring program, whereby 372 mentors served over 3,000 first-year students across three years.

Mentoring program overview

A research-intensive (R1) university located on the upper eastern seaboard with a total enrollment of approximately 6,400 undergraduate students recognized the need to better support first-year students, particularly in the crucial first semester. In 2014, the institution secured a five-year grant for $1.2 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institutes (HHMI) to design and implement an Integrative Program for Education, Research and Support Involving Science and Technology (I-PERSIST). The purpose of this learning community program was to provide all first-year students enrolled in one or more of the introductory, faculty-taught, STEM courses (i.e., Calculus I, Chemistry I, or Physics I) with weekly small group, tutoring-support sessions run by a peer mentor. The main objectives of I-PERSIST were to: improve student experiences in these three "gatekeeper" courses, help incoming STEM students develop key study and social skills shown in the literature to help students persist, improve student academic achievement, and increase the percentage of first-year STEM students continuing at the institution. The long-term goal of I-PERSIST was to increase student persistence in STEM fields. Retention of first-year students has remained stable even though the number of incoming students has increased. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Outcomes for Peer-Based Mentors in a University-Wide STEM Persistence Program: A Three-Year Analysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.