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Growing Undergraduate Student Mentoring Skills Using A Reflective Practice Guided By Peer Feedback

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Knowing Students: Diversity & Retention

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.649.1 - 9.649.21



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Paper Authors

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Steven Zemke

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Donald Elger

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

Session 1430

Growing Undergraduate Student Mentoring Skills Using a Reflective Practice Guided by Peer Feedback

Steven C. Zemke, Donald F. Elger University of Idaho


Our university is facing increasing enrollment as well as decreasing funding. Class sizes and faculty workloads are rising. As a result, the students’ personal connection with the faculty is decreasing. To cost effectively augment the faculty effort and simultaneously increase connection with students we are utilizing undergraduate student mentors. Since excellent mentoring skills are rare in undergraduates, we need to grow them in our mentors. Additionally, we need to grow these skills as students graduate. We need a low cost, but highly effective means to grow mentoring skills. Furthermore, since mentoring happens in the dynamics of a conversation, the skills growth process needs a “real-time” component.

We believe that mentors can grow their skills quickly by reflecting on their performance immediately following a mentoring session and “scripting” more effective practices. The “scripts” are pre-planned responses the mentor will use in future mentoring situations. The mentor also relies on peer observer feedback recorded during the mentoring session to guide the writing of the scripts. The scripts are then reviewed before the next mentoring session. This skills growth process incorporates parts of an employee development method used by the author at Hewlett-Packard several years ago. Our question is:

“What underlying principles emerge as we train undergraduate mentors?”

To evaluate the skills growth process we employed several instruments during a four-week pilot study. “Snapshot” instruments used during each mentoring session gathered data from the mentors, mentees, and observers. Following the study, the mentors and mentees wrote comments concerning growth in the mentor’s skills. Three underlying principles appeared to emerge from the data:

1. The simple formula of exploring what a mentee knows and then collaboratively enabling the mentee to refine his or her understanding appears to be fundamental to mentee learning. 2. Collecting, processing, and incorporating self and observer feedback appears to enable our mentors to quickly and effectively develop their skills. 3. Maintaining the level of challenge and the development of healthy rapport appear to be synergistic with exploring what a mentee knows and enabling the mentee to refine his or her understanding.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Zemke, S., & Elger, D. (2004, June), Growing Undergraduate Student Mentoring Skills Using A Reflective Practice Guided By Peer Feedback Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12826

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