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Lessons Learned: Implementing A Large Scale Peer Mentoring Program

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

FPD6 -- Early Intervention & Retention Programs

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.887.1 - 11.887.15



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Paper Authors


Carrie Slater Virginia Tech

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CARRIE R. SLATER is a graduate assistant in the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She received her B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and is currently pursuing a M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering.

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Whitney Edmister Virginia Tech

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WHITNEY A. EDMISTER is the Assistant Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She received her M.S. in Counselor Education, Student Affairs Administration from Radford University and M.S. in Career and Technical Education and B.S. in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise both from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

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Bevlee Watford Virginia Tech

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DR. BEVELEE A. WATFORD, P.E. is the founding Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity, established in 1992. Watford received the ASEE 2003 Minorities in Engineering award due to her efforts to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of under-represented students in engineering. She is currently working for the National Science Foundation as a rotator in the Division of Undergraduate Education.

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Jean Kampe Virginia Tech

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J. C. MALZAHN KAMPE is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She received her Ph.D. in metallurgical engineering from Michigan Technological University, M.Ch.E. in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware, and a B.S. degree in chemical engineering at Michigan Technological University.

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

Lessons Learned: Implementing a Large-Scale Peer Mentoring Program Abstract

Beginning in 1992 with the creation of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED), peer mentoring programs were established at Virginia Tech to assist in the high school to college transition of first-year students from underrepresented populations enrolled in the College of Engineering (CoE).* Upper level students in the CoE who have successfully completed the transition process continue to serve as mentors, providing academic and social support to these new students as they adjust to the demands of the first-year engineering curriculum and their new social environment. These original mentoring programs, Academic Hispanic OutReach Alliance (AHORA), Black Engineering Support Teams (BEST), and Women in Engineering Support Teams (WEST) are instrumental in retaining students to the CoE.

As reported in the January 2005 issue of the ASEE’s Prism, Virginia Tech was awarded a five- year $2 million NSF STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP) Grant to increase its number of graduates in engineering and computer science.1 As part of the efforts to that end, the peer mentoring programs were expanded during the fall semester 2005 to include all interested first- year students admitted to the CoE. Building on the success of the initial CEED programs, the projected increase was to serve 400 students with the creation of two new peer-mentoring programs, General Undergraduate Engineering Support Teams (GUEST) and Network for Engineering Transfer Students (NETS). With the implementation of GUEST and NETS, the number of first-year students participating as mentees increased from 126 in 2004 to 384 in 2005. In addition, the number of upper level students serving as mentors jumped from 32 in 2004 to 79 in 2005.This paper will outline the design and implementation of a large-scale peer mentoring program focusing mostly on the freshman programs of AHORA, BEST, GUEST and WEST. Lessons learned throughout implementation will be discussed as well as the first semester Grade Point Averages (GPAs) of first-year students participating in the program.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number DUE – 0431646. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


In her book Giving much/gaining more: Mentoring for success, Dr. Emily M. Wadsworth (2002) defines mentoring “as significant personal and professional assistance given by a more experienced person to a less experienced person during a time of transition” (p. 2).2 This definition in conjunction with Schlossberg’s Transition Theory, Chickering’s Theory of Identity Development and Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim – That I May Serve, has guided the

* Within the CoE at Virginia Tech, the term under-represented refers to women, African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian students.

Slater, C., & Edmister, W., & Watford, B., & Kampe, J. (2006, June), Lessons Learned: Implementing A Large Scale Peer Mentoring Program Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1118

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