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Faculty And Peer Mentors Within A Critical Thinking Class

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Intro to Engineering: Not Just 1st Year Engineers

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.569.1 - 8.569.12



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Paper Authors

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Carolyn Hogan

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Barbara Goldberg

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

Session 1153

Faculty and Peer Mentors within a Critical Thinking Class

Barbara M. I. Goldberg, Ph.D., Carolyn Hogan, M.A. DeVry College of Technology, North Brunswick, NJ


This paper presents a retention initiative designed to create a stronger learning community among first term students through the linking of both faculty and peer mentors with Critical Thinking (COLL) classes and to increase the number of students progressing to the third term with the overall goal of increasing completion rates at the DeVry College of Technology, North Brunswick campus. The study focused on nontraditional, commuting, full-time students at a technical proprietary college in central New Jersey.

The initiative also connects students to their program of study and exposes them to program- related technical concepts. Faculty mentors teach a critical thinking lesson with technical application and visit their classes informally throughout the term. Additionally, peer mentors are assigned to each class to work directly with the students, support instructors, and provide yet another connection to the DeVry community. Because of their presence in the classroom and availability throughout the term, peer mentors can become an important part of students’ lives.

Study results indicated that the COLL Mentoring Initiative did positively impact the experimental students. Although the program increased contact with both faculty and peer mentors, peer mentors proved to be the strongest component of the program in terms of their effect on the students. Even though students indicated that faculty mentors did not affect them significantly, the experimental group still rated their impact much more positively than did the control group. Mentoring Initiative students also rated their COLL class activities more highly than control students and appeared to particularly value their group experiences. Study results, however, failed to support hypotheses dealing with a stronger sense of community with the college, intention to reenroll if starting over, and actual rates of retention.

Both quantitative and qualitative data examining both student and faculty response to the new program in comparison to the previous model are presented as well recommendations to further develop the initiative.

I. Introduction

In his examination of college attrition, Tinto began with the words, “More students leave their college or university prior to completion than stay.” 12 This problem is exacerbated among nontraditional students, for far more nontraditional students are leaving college than are traditional students, particularly during their first year. Since DeVry is composed mainly of nontraditional commuting students, the problem is one of extreme importance to us. In order to Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education


Hogan, C., & Goldberg, B. (2003, June), Faculty And Peer Mentors Within A Critical Thinking Class Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12128

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