June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.882.1 - 24.882.42
Management and Assessment of a Successful Peer Mentor Program for Increasing Freshmen RetentionAbstractThere is no single magic bullet for the retention of freshmen engineering students upon entranceinto a rigorous course of study required of today’s engineering curriculum. Rather it is a multi-faceted approach of strategies each designed to aid the transition from an often-times easy highschool experience to one in which a student is overwhelmed with the difficulty andresponsibilities of a full-time student.One such strategy that has been implemented at a small, private university is a peer mentoringprogram which pairs small groups of 5-9 “first time in any college” (FTIC) students with anupper classmen of like major who has successfully navigated the first year. While a peermentoring program is not ground-breaking in itself, several successful techniques formanagement and assessment of the mentors have been developed which may benefit otherinstitutions that are seeking to implement or may be struggling to manage similar programsThe peer mentoring program is one aspect of an overall greater effort started in 2010 aimed atretention and supported by a 5-year project funded by NSF-STEP. Three years of this projecthave yielded significant improvements in the one-year and two-year retention rates. While thepeer mentor program can be credited with some of these improvements other new retentioninitiatives include: • A faculty mentor program for FTIC students • An industrial mentor program for FTIC students • Two completely redesigned multi-disciplinary first-year engineering practice courses designed to answer the question “What do engineers do?”This paper will seek to detail how the institution implements the peer mentor program. It beginswith a rigorous selection process that attempts to promote the most qualified candidates for therole of mentor. The program is structured to provide as many tools and support as necessary forthe mentors to perform their assigned tasks of helping the freshmen student survive and thrive.Leadership development is at the core and several layers of accountability are built in to providethe requisite support.In addition, this paper seeks to provide insight on several challenges of the peer mentor program.For example: • How can we accurately measure the effectiveness of a peer mentoring program, since it is only one aspect of a retention effort, with respect to the overall program initiatives? • How can we determine if students are staying due to a successful peer mentor/FTIC relationship? • What motivations are there for an upper-classmen to enroll in the program? • What advantages can be gained by successful retention of peer mentors to serve a second year?
Johnson, J., & Niemi, A. D., & Green, M. G., & Gentry, L. E. (2014, June), Management and Assessment of a Successful Peer Mentor Program for Increasing Freshmen Retention Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22815
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015