June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Assessment of Peer Mentoring of Teams in a First Year Design-Build-Test-Communicate Class
Peer mentoring has been associated with beneficial outcomes in higher education, from increased retention of minority students and women to learning gains for both mentors and mentees. Most of the peer mentoring relationships investigated in the literature are of mentors not tied to a specific course [e.g.,2]. This paper reports on how one section of a first year, intensive, project-based learning class uses peer mentors to guide student teams throughout a design-build-test project in a first year engineering course.
Our one-semester course is a four-credit combined technical and communication course. Students work in teams of four or five students to design, build, and test two underwater vessels (one an unpowered bathysphere, one a remotely operated vehicle [ROV]), as well as to report on those designs. Former students of the course participate as peer mentors, working directly with a single team to guide design decisions and provide feedback on all facets of the design and communication process.
In Fall 2016, we conducted an assessment of our current peer mentoring system by surveying students and peer mentors. From this survey, as well as our experiences facilitating the course with peer mentors for eight semesters, we are able to report a few “best practices” for facilitating the peer mentoring experience in our context. Importantly, we find that both students and mentors benefit from the mentoring experience, enough to justify our efforts to manage it. This report contains the results of the survey, as well as instructor conclusions on what aspects of the peer mentoring experience are most important for successful implementation.
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