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Educational Enrichment: The Benefits of Near-Peer Mentoring for Undergraduate Engineering Students

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Conference

2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

LEES 4: Understanding and Disrupting Engineering Cultures

Page Count

16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/40697

Download Count

97

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Paper Authors

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Taiylor Rayford University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Taiylor Rayford is a doctoral student in the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research is interested in understanding how expectations and previous experiences affect students' sense of belonging, with a special interest in students of color.

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Nidia Ruedas-Gracia University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Molly Goldstein University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Dr. Molly H. Goldstein is a Teaching Assistant Professor and Product Design Lab Director in Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering. Dr. Goldstein’s research focuses on student designer trade-off decisions through the study of their design actions and thinking. Her studies often involve educational and professional contexts with cross-disciplinary collaborations. She has a B.S. in General Engineering (Systems Engineering & Design) and M.S. in Systems and Entrepreneurial Engineering, both from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Goldstein earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University in 2018. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., she worked as an environmental engineer specializing in air quality, influencing her focus in engineering design with environmental concerns.

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Corey Schimpf University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

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Corey Schimpf is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at the University at
Buffalo, SUNY his lab focuses on engineering design, advancing research methods, and technology innovations to support learning in complex domains. Major research strands include: (1) analyzing how expertise develops in engineering design across the continuum from novice pre-college students to practicing engineers, (2) advancing engineering design research by integrating new theoretical or analytical frameworks (e.g., from data science or complexity science) and (3) conducting design-based research to develop scaffolding tools for supporting the learning of complex skills like design. He is the Program Chair for the Design in Engineering Education Division for the 2022 ASEE conference.

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Lara Hebert University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Assistant Director, Outreach and Public Engagement, Grainger College of Engineering, University of Illinois

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Lorena Escamilla University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Jesus Zavala University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Abstract

Near-peer mentoring is a common teaching practice where a senior learner guides a junior learner. The proximity of skills and experiences of near-peer mentors generate a deep level of relation and understanding of mentee needs, allowing mentors to provide effective learning strategies. This connection between mentor and mentee enhances mentee learning, confidence, and motivation. However, the benefits of near-peer mentoring for the mentors are less clear. To understand the benefits of near-peer mentoring for mentors, we collected data from near-peer mentors who participated in a Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics summer camp. The summer camp was a weeklong remote paper mechatronics camp designed for incoming seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students. Mechatronics is an interdisciplinary field that combines electronics, computation, and mechanics and thus provides a high ceiling for creative design. In contrast, paper mechatronics focuses on inexpensive paper components and craft parts to create a low barrier for student entry. The camp was grounded in culturally sustaining pedagogy to promote learning, identity development, and sense of belonging to STEM. It consisted of two key components: near-peer mentors and storytelling. Near-peer mentors were the primary facilitators for the students. The mentors were two undergraduate engineering students responsible for designing the project curriculum, testing, developing student support, and facilitating most of the sessions throughout the summer camp, with supervision from faculty members. The students created two machines, the Walking Jansen and the Up-and-Down Crank. Furthermore, students were encouraged to use their personal experiences and identities to tell stories through their projects. To assess the benefits of near-peer mentoring, we asked What did near-peer mentors gain from creating and facilitating the summer camp? We collected two forms of data to address the research question 1. Daily journals kept by the mentors during the camp, and 2. Semi-structured interviews. The analysis reveals considerable benefits for the mentors: Mentors developed essential teaching skills, their belonging to STEM improved, and mentors practiced consolidation. The results highlight the extensive benefits of near-peer mentoring. Near-peer mentoring is a valuable enrichment opportunity to supplement undergraduate core engineering education.

Rayford, T., & Ruedas-Gracia, N., & Goldstein, M., & Schimpf, C., & Hebert, L., & Escamilla, L., & Zavala, J. (2022, August), Educational Enrichment: The Benefits of Near-Peer Mentoring for Undergraduate Engineering Students Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/40697

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