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A Successful Engineering Peer Mentoring Program

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

FPD5 -- Placement & Early Success

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.133.1 - 12.133.17



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Paper Authors


Carol Gattis University of Arkansas

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Carol S. Gattis, Ph.D. is an associate professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Arkansas. She also directs and develops new programs for the college-wide efforts of recruitment, retention and diversity.

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Bryan Hill University of Arkansas

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Bryan Hill, an industrial engineer, is the associate director of recruitment, retention and diversity for the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas. Bryan managed the 2005-2006 pilot engineering peer mentoring program.

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Abraham Lachowsky University of Arkansas

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Abraham Lachowsky is a senior undergraduate student in the Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Arkansas. He is currently the Peer Mentoring Coordinator for the 2006-2007 Engineering Peer Mentoring program.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Successful Engineering Peer Mentoring Program Abstract

With the number of U.S. students entering engineering degrees programs declining, it is extremely important to focus efforts on not only recruitment, but also on student retention. Many universities have tried different strategies to increase retention, but to no avail. At the University of Arkansas College of Engineering, a freshman peer mentoring program was created for fall 2005 that, in its pilot year, had astounding results. Peer mentored students returned for the spring semester in engineering at a significantly higher rate (94% vs. 78% for the non- mentored students). Peer mentored students were twice as likely as their non-mentored colleagues to have a first semester GPA greater than 2.5, and the average GPA of the peer mentored students was 9% higher than that of their non-mentored cohort. Yet, the admission profile of the peer mentored group was equivalent to that of the non-mentored group. Forty students chose to participate in the peer mentoring pilot program.

The success of this peer mentoring program can be attributed to several key factors, including: 1) proper mentor selection (juniors and seniors), 2) mentor training, 3) freshman mentee training, 4) proper mentor-mentee matching, 5) weekly targeted one-on-one meetings with mentees, 6) well-timed information and mentee support, 7) proper referrals, 8) group mentee social activities, and 9) mentor handbook development.

For fall 2006, the Engineering Peer Mentoring Program was expanded to allow all students to participate on a voluntary basis. One hundred forty freshmen (35% of entering freshmen) were mentored by ten mentors. Improvements to the program, based on feedback, include: 1) hiring and training mentors earlier, 2) advertising at new student orientation, 3) starting mentoring in the first week of class, 4) expanding the mentor handbook, and 5) adding more group mentor/mentee socials.

Assessment of the pilot program includes retention rates for spring semester, 1st year retention rate, a mentee satisfaction survey, mentor and mentee debriefing, mentor retention, and eventually the graduation rate.

Overall, our pilot peer mentoring program was a success.


Throughout the U.S., the number of students seeking engineering degrees has continued to decline1, and the retention rates of those students already in engineering programs is poor. It is extremely important for engineering schools to focus their efforts not only on recruitment, but also on student retention. In a study by the Center for Institutional Data Analysis and Exchange at the University of Oklahoma, only 67% of students who began engineering and science programs returned for their sophomore year, and only 38% of the cohort actually graduated with an engineering or science degree.2

Gattis, C., & Hill, B., & Lachowsky, A. (2007, June), A Successful Engineering Peer Mentoring Program Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2293

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