Recent Study on Near-Peer Mentorship Program to Support Academic Success

Recent Study on Near-Peer Mentorship Program to Support Academic Success

A recent study of the effects of a near-peer mentoring program for first-year students intending to major in biology at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) found that participants in the program were more likely to develop a diverse set of productive academic habits, earn higher grades in the introductory chemistry sequence, and persist in the biology major than their peers who chose not to participate.  The article, entitled “Improving Academic Performance and Retention of First-Year Biology Students through a Scalable Peer Mentorship Program,” was published in October 2021 in CBE—Life Sciences Education. 

The program described in the study is Biology Mentoring and Engagement (BIOME), a 1-credit elective taken concurrently with General Chemistry, a gateway course to biology majors at UCSB.  The BIOME course consists of ten 50-minute meetings where groups of six first-year mentees discuss topics including metacognition, growth mindset, and effective study strategies. First-year students learn through a combination of brief reading and reflection assignments, full-class discussions led by the instructor, and group discussions facilitated by an upper-level student mentor. The mentors, all academically successful biology majors, enroll in a 1-credit training seminar where they learn mentorship techniques and role-play the conversations they might lead with their mentees. 

Read the full article at https://www.lifescied.org/doi/full/10.1187/cbe.21-02-0039. The supplementary materials include the full list of academic habits measured in the study. 

At MIT, near-peer mentoring takes many forms, including the Associate Advisor program for first-year students and a recent mentoring initiative in the Physics Department. If you would like advice on how to implement near-peer mentoring in your course or department, please reach out to TLL.