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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Charlotte L. Giscombe
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: First-Generation, Income-Eligible Peer Mentor Study
Dr. Richard Zinser, Chair
Dr. Warren Lacefield
Dr. Marianne DiPierro
Date: Thursday, October 30, 2008 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
211 W Walwood Hall, Emeriti Lounge
This study was designed to determine how mentoring affects the peer mentor. Despite the proliferation of peer mentoring programs, little research has been conducted to consider how mentoring affects the peer mentor’s attitudes, leadership ability and academic accomplishments when engaging in a mentoring relationship.
The focus of this study is on the at-risk peer mentors who are part of the federally funded Student Support Services located at a Midwestern university campus and seeks to ascertain whether their grade point average, retention, graduation rates, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, and leadership abilities were changed by serving in a mentoring relationship. Since these attitudes and skills have been linked with student success, a study that examines factors that impact these variables is of importance to administrators of SSS, other developmental programs, and the students themselves.
A mixed method longitudinal design was used to analyze both quantitative and qualitative data. The data was collected throughout the 1998 – 2006 academic years. The data set was organized to allow comparisons among five groups of students, which include the peer mentor group. Using SPSS software, frequencies, means and percentages were calculated on each of the factors. To complete the model, an analysis of variance was performed. Qualitative data was gathered from structured interviews and a focus group reflecting on whether and to what degree the act of mentoring affected the mentors’ attitude and leadership abilities.
Results of this study showed that, when the at-risk peer mentors were compared to the average students or students who are eligible for SSS but do not receive their services, the peer mentors’ average graduation rate was higher at 78%. Average years-to-graduate rate of 4.48 years was lower, and their cumulative grade point average at 3.30 was higher than other comparative groups within the study. Qualitative data analysis revealed that mentors indicated positive changes in regards to leadership and attitudes more than 50% of the time.
In summary, the research strongly indicates mentoring is a positive experience that does no harm. The mentors develop strong character and have opportunities to help others.