We are happy to welcome guest writer, Dr. Jenna Harmon, Mentorship Research Lead at Mentor Collective.
The benefits of peer mentorship for mentees have been well documented, from increased retention and persistence rates, to higher academic performance, to a stronger sense of belonging in their campus community (Yomtov et. al, 2017; Strayhorn, 2018; Ward, Thomas & Disch, 2010; Lane, 2018; Roger & Tremblay, 2003; Talbert, 2012). In her 2016 study, Jennifer Keup found that “peer leadership meets many of the criteria to be considered as a high-impact practice.” (Keup, 2016) Most often when peer mentorship programs are implemented in higher education, it’s with the assumption that most of the benefits will be experienced by the mentees. But what’s in it for the mentors? Why do students choose to volunteer their time to participate in these programs?
Scholars are increasingly interested in exactly this question and in quantifying these outcomes for peer mentors. Several recent studies show that mentorship is just as beneficial for the mentors as it is for their mentees. Snowden & Hardy (2013) found that both mentors and mentees benefit from higher grades, and show more engagement with the campus community, particularly on-campus support resources. They also found that mentors were retained at a 6% higher rate than non-mentor peers in the same course.
In Kiyama & Luca (2014), peer mentors experienced greater social capital, found more opportunities on and off campus, and became more socially-just individuals. They found that “over half (65%) of the peer mentors who participated in this study went on to work with other social justice and equity programs.” (Kiyama & Luca, pg. 505). More broadly, their study suggests that the experience of being a peer mentor was “integral to their success as students.” (Kiyama & Luca, pg. 508)
Shook & Keup’s 2012 study went a step beyond, showing not only how peer mentors benefit directly from participation in peer mentorship programs, but how institutions benefits from that participation as well. Using data from the 2009 Peer Leadership Survey administered by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, 91% reported increased knowledge of campus resources, 81% reported a feeling of belonging to their institution, and 71% reported a desire to persist at their school. In analyzing open-ended responses, Shook & Keup found that students expressed improvements to their leadership and time managements skills, clearer notions about their future careers, and stronger connection to their school. Schools benefited from the “budget relief to the programs and offices that need to provide more student assistance to meet the demands of a larger campus community or to offset the effects of budget cuts on staffing level.” (Shook & Keup, pg. 12) Peer mentors are also a valuable resource for disseminating information within and among the student body, acting as trustworthy advocates and points of contact for getting crucial knowledge to students.
These findings are supported by the qualitative feedback we receive every day at Mentor Collective from the over 22,000 mentors we’ve matched, trained, and supported. Here are a few of the experiences they’ve shared with us:
“Being a mentor changes the way I acknowledge the people around me; it has transformed my life in that now, I recognize the limitless potential of all the people around me. Truly, it is shaping me into the kind of person that values all individuals on a deeper level. Being a mentor is a gift. I am so grateful for the kind of respect, acceptance and love that can build and be built by encouraging mentees to be fully engaged with their educational experiences.” -Nelida Ponce, Mentor, Hartnell College.
“Mentoring makes you feel proud. You get a feeling of pride from helping others to navigate new experiences that you have gone through yourself.” -Missy Wielenberg, Mentor, University of Wisconsin - Stout
“[Being a mentor] makes me feel more a part of the community as I help the new class get adjusted.” -Elena Baietto, Mentor, St. John’s University.
To learn more about how you can empower students through peer mentorship, contact us today.
Keup, J. (2016). “Peer leadership as an emerging high-impact practice: An exploratory study of the American experience.” Journal of Student Affairs in Africa. 4, no. 1. 10.14426/jsaa.v4i1.143
Kiyama, J. M., & Luca, S. G. (2014). Structured Opportunities: Exploring the Social and Academic Benefits for Peer Mentors in Retention Programs. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 15(4), 489–514.
Shook, J.L. & J. R. Keup (2012). The benefits of peer leader programs: An overview from the literature. New Directions for Higher Education. Vol. 2012, no. 157: 5-16. doi: 10.1002/he.20002.
Snowden, M. & Hardy, T. (2013) Peer mentorship and positive effects on student mentor and mentee retention and academic success. Widening Participation and Life-Long Learning (14): 76-92.