This study is investigating the effects of a faculty mentoring program on student performance and retention with regard to the first time undergraduates of Fall 2009 of the Prince George’s Community College, an African-American college primarily. The aim is to probe the extent of retention in the years prior to the implementation of this program, termed the A.L.A.N.A. (African, Latin, Asian, Native American) Expereince mentoring program and is not directed towards any community in particular. The retention rate of the students after the program was compared to the retention situation before the program. The efficiency of the program and the participation by the students who remained to qualify and those who just left the college before graduation are all evaluated in the study. A time series design has been adopted to compare the differences in student retention. Historical data obtained from the archives of the institution would be scrutinized for this study. A questionnaire given to the undergraduates of Fall 2009 would be used to gather information on the persistence rates of the students. Surveys using an instrument modeled on the one designed by the Appalachian University would be distributed to the undergraduates. The variables used would be age, gender, contact, involvement and matched by using gender. The study is discussing the issues of whether more students were retained following the program than in the years before it was organized, whether more females than males remained, whether all students contacted their mentors, whether non-traditional programs had more effect than the traditional ones, whether the university involvement had any effect on the students and whether the African-American students were less retained than the others.
Student retention and increasing it has become a major issue in all higher education institutions, especially in those with high drop-out rates (Alkandari, 2008, p. 483). Mentoring produces a direct relationship where students’ persistence and probability of graduating are increased and an indirect one where grades, intentions or satisfaction are achieved (Duggan, 2008, p. 437). Personal aspirations, securing jobs, raising the level of social class, acquiring skills, attaining academic merit in a discipline, being able to study in an institution with high standards and reputation, the satisfaction of studying in a University or the University are just some of the significant reasons for a student entering the portals of higher education. Increasing student retention has the advantages of improving the financial situation of the University or college (Alkandari, 2008, p. 483). The nation is benefited by the effective academic preparation of students who turn out as valuable professionals contributing and participating in the different work arenas. The institution and its faculty motivate the students to remain, develop their personalities, and achieve progress in the academic and non-academic environments provided. The retention level and student outcomes may be measured by assessing their persistence and completion rates (Alkandari, 2008, p. 483). Retaining African-American students, which form a major part of the colored population which happens to be the new primary population of the United States, has become a serious issue in many institutions of repute. Failure to do so may deteriorate the talent of a highly trained work force much in demand nationally and globally. This chapter deals with the relevance of the study and the knowledge obtained from literature regarding the subjects of mentoring and student retention and the extent of research done. Reasons for selecting the study and an idea about the purpose of the study, the kind of study planned, and other information is included. Evaluative research is planned.
Background of the Study
Researchers on Student Persistence and Mentoring
Several models of student persistence have been developed over the past 30 years of research: Tinto’s model of Student Integration (1993), Bean’s Model of Student Attrition (1985), Nora and Cabrera’s Student adjustment model (1996), Astin’s Student Involvement Theory (1984) and St. John’s Financial Impact Model (1992). Among the many factors that these theories covered, “student-faculty interactions which include career counseling, advising, personal counseling, intellectual discussions and informal socializing contribute to the social integration and satisfaction of students” (Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 339). Research on student persistence covered undergraduate students too. Research on mentoring on the other hand has been done in some places only and has hardly covered undergraduate students. Formalized mentoring has been the suggestion all along. In all the researches, mentoring efforts were found to increase student retention rates (Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 340). Event history models and discrete time logistic regression models were used to compare the retention rates in mentored and non-mentored students (Mangold, Bean, Adams, Schwab, & Lynch, 2002-2003, as cited in Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 340). Students participating in the formal mentoring program had a lesser chance of leaving college. Another study using the experimental randomized control design found that a year-long mentoring program produced positive results of significantly higher grades than those students who did not have the good fortune of the mentoring program (Rodger & Tremblay, 2003, as cited in Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 340). Rigorous methodology was followed but it was a “black box” type of evaluation where only the beginning and the end were analyzed. What happened in between was not studied in detail. Researchers who studied minority groups and at-risk students concentrated more on the outcomes rather than on the details of the experience in the mentoring which led to the outcomes. A longitudinal qualitative study also found that mentoring had an influence on the student persistence (Freeman, 1999 as cited in Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 340). Cumulative Grade Point Average was found to have increased with better retention rates after a formal mentoring programme for African-American students (Ross-Thomas & Bryant, 1994, as cited in Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 340)
Limitations in the Research
Definitional, methodological and theoretical flaws have limited the use of existing studies on evaluating mentoring programs (Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 340). No consensus has been reached on a single definition for mentoring. About 30 different definitions exist. Mentoring can be formal and informal or long and short or planned and spontaneous (Luna & Cullen, 1995, as cited in Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 341). Another definition says mentoring is “a formalized process whereby a more knowledgeable and experienced person actuates a supportive role of overseeing and encouraging reflection and learning within a less experienced and knowledgeable person, so as to facilitate that person’s career and personal development” (Roberts, 2000, as cited in Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 341). These definitions speak about outcomes rather than what constitutes the mentoring. Some have defined mentoring as functions (teacher, guide, sponsor, role model etc.).
Another definition had six dimensions which were the relationship emphasis, information emphasis, mentor as facilitator, confrontive function, mentor model and student vision (Coher & Galbraith, 1995, as cited in Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 341). All the features of a mentoring program noted by other researchers can be recognized in the six dimensions.
Research designs also have suffered for want of uniformity. Only low levels of internal and external validity are found in existing research (Jacobi, 1991). Studies also have not covered many student populations in different settings (Rodriguez , 1995, as cited in Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 341). Regression analyses have been done but the aim is just to establish predictive validity, not discover a concept. Researchers have suggested quasi-experimental designs and being of longitudinal nature. Solid underlying perspectives underlying mentoring experiences have yet to be determined. Definitional conceptualization of mentoring is essential for conducting studies which would bring out a model or concept of mentoring.
In the absence of a theory, a conceptual framework with four domains has been noted in mentoring: psychological or emotional support, support for setting goals and choosing a career path, academic subject knowledge support aimed at advancing a student’s knowledge relevant to their chosen field, and specification of a role model (Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 342).. Listening, providing sufficient moral support, recognizing problems and providing sufficient support, mutual understanding and establishing a relationship with the mentor are the aspects of mentoring under the first construct. This would include empathetic listening and genuine understanding with a regard for each other. The second construct involves deeper exploratory conversations which elicit interests, abilities, ideas, critical thinking and beliefs. The third construct leads to the acquisition of skills and new knowledge involving a teaching-learning process. The fourth construct enables the mentor to develop the posture of a role model for the mentee through an enriching experience (Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 343).
The Opinions of Modern Researchers
The mentor in a college is taken from the faculty usually. Faculty has been described as “uninterested, unskilled and unconcerned” advisors as it has the functions of teaching, research, institutional governance, service to the broader community and discipline and occasionally the need to procure funds too apart from their advising role (Habley, 1994, p. 25). Obviously the role of advisor declines or becomes secondary in importance in these circumstances (Allen & Smith, 2008, p. 398). Faculty is spending more time for research and less time for advising (Milem, Berger & Dey, 2000). Advising has become a low status function (Vowell & Farren, 2003, p. 66). Faculty believes that advising does not carry much weight or obtain them any recognition in considering decisions on their tenure (Diller & Fisher, 2000). Only 31% of institutions provide some recognition or reward or compensation for faculty advising and only 8% of institutions consider the advising when promotion or tenure decisions are made (Habley, 2003). The faculty needs to strengthen its skills and knowledge for quality academic advising but this is time-consuming and challenging (Allen & Smith, 2008, p. 398).
The study by Allen and Smith in 2008 included 12 areas of possible advising under 5 topics of integration, referral, information, individuation and shared responsibility. The information about how things work at the University is one area where faculty members do not hold themselves totally responsible (Allen & Smith, 2008, p. 407). The low rating was also given for the function that helps integrate the student’s life, academics, career, life goals, their choice of general education options, type of degree to opt for and co-curricular activities. The faculty considered referral for academic problems as more important than for non academic issues. Surprisingly even the individual and shared responsibility was not rated at the top.
Mentored undergraduate students had a higher GPA, more units per semester and a lesser dropout rate than the non-mentored ones (Campbell & Campbell, 1997). Psychosocial mentoring contributes to the mentee’s sense of confidence, competence and effectiveness (Paglis, 2006, p. 457). The mentor behaviors which are significant are role modeling, conveying respect and being accepted, counseling in moments of fears and anxiety, and developing informal friendship. Career-related mentoring incorporates challenging assignments, coordinating with professional colleagues and protection from risks. The maturing of the mentor-mentee relationship is called cultivation phase when the psychosocial mentoring and the career related mentoring reach maximum expansion (Paglis, 2006, p. 457). Self-reported performance proficiency has been reported with psychosocial and career-related mentoring. Satisfaction and organizational commitment are other variables associated with mentoring. Verbal persuasion can be a part of psychosocial mentoring and can boost the undergraduates’ efficacy while career-related mentoring could include the stimulation of knowledge and skills or mastery experiences (Paglis, 2006, p. 460).
“Black student retention in institutions of higher education is an important 21st century issue” (Grier-Reed, 2008, p. 476). The American Council of Education stated that at the turn of the century, only 40% of the eligible Black students went to college and only 46% of these graduated (Astin & Oseguera, 2005). The four year graduation rate was 25% higher for the whites (Zetterberg, 2003). 60% of students in the Midwestern Research Institution were undergraduates. The Blacks made up 4.7% while the colored made up 17.3% (Office of Institutional Research, 2006). Only 25% of the Black undergraduates graduated after 4 years.
Retention was promoted through the African-American Student Network (AFAM). The stressors that Black students face are the “lack of knowledge about college process, institutional racism, poor health and energy, social isolation and family and economic problems” (Arnold, 1993, as cited in Grier-Reed, 2008, p. 476). Intact social support systems and psychological well being are essential for the Blacks, especially in white-dominated campuses. AFAM aims to close the gap between self and ideal by using the collective wisdom. Communal get-togethers are organized with food as an integral component. Trustworthy relationships are developed with the ability to be connected to students, to nurture their ideas, build up a space for collaborative inquiry and a safe environment (Raider-Roth, 2005). Extracting the student’s inner experiences and nurturing their ability helps him grow. Facilitating discussions, reminding the group about time, finding themes and associating struggles, reflecting and summarizing discussions constitute the role of a mentor. Information about work-study positions, opportunities for study abroad and leadership is shared with the mentees (Grier-Reed, 2008, p. 478). The daily psychological trauma that is experienced by the Black students is shared in the meetings and group experiences help to overcome the trauma. Vicarious learning by observation is another feature possible through the meetings. Having a common ground makes the Black students feel connected on campus. Their relaxed attitude and the feeling of being respected and valued help their growth in the academic field. Intellectual stimulation, resilience, a sense of empowerment and relating to a home base allow the students scope for expansion (Grier-Reed, 2008, p. 483).
Universities are attempting to increase student retention by enhancing student success and comfort level in the campus (Grant-Vallone, 2004, p. 225). Increasing supportive relationships is the way to keep them till graduation. Students who reported higher levels of self esteem and greater peer support adjusted better to academic and social life on the campus. The higher level of psychosocial adjustment was also noted with the students who utilized the student support services and counseling. These students also exhibited greater commitment to graduating. Agreeableness and conscientiousness was found to be a positive factor (Napoli & Wortman, 1998, as cited in Grant-Vallone, 2004, p. 257). Social support has a significant effect on stress and anxiety and well-being so that those who avail of greater support experience less negative consequences. It also facilitates successful coping during stressful conditions or buffers the effects of stress. The support could arise from family or peers. High level of social integration predicted a high level of institutional commitment which in turn predicted a higher intent to re-enrol. Term-to-term persistence was better (Grant-Vallone, 2004, p. 258). Many studies have been done to know the consequences and effectiveness of support services. Higher retention rates were indicated. Some studies say that support services assist social adjustment but not academic adjustment (Grant-Vallone, 2004, p. 272).
Historical Origin and Program Development
Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) is located in Largo, Maryland in a suburb of Washington, DC. The African-American dominated Prince George’s county has risen from the slave plantations of the 1800s to becoming the richest majority African-Amercian county in the country. The occupations of the residents range from doctors and lawyers to hotel owners. The county falls within the top 2% in US in income level. The African-American residents are doing extremely well in Maryland. They are mostly young. A sound education system and the dream of a college degree in this elite environment are requisites. The PGCC has made positive attempts at encouraging students to enter their college and ensured their retention to secure that dream degree which qualifies them to take up the challenging jobs available in Maryland itself and outside it.
The college began in 1958 with 71 full-time students and 114 part-timers. It has grown into a premier institution, a two year State-supported college. The 2007 data show that 11861 students are registered. A racial diversity of 8.3% whites and 77.6% African-Americans and 9.3% either Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Alaskan Native, or unknown along with other communities and 4.8% non resident aliens was seen. 64% were below the age of 30. 93% of the freshmen were from Maryland itself. Full-time students who came back for the second year was 59% while the part-time students who came back was 43% in 2004 (Prince George’s Community College or PGCC, City TownInfo.com). The faculty came up to 159 tenured people and 97 on the track of tenure in 2004. Aiming to become an institution of repute, an atmosphere was created to make it a rich learning center for furthering academic and professional careers. The community is also focused upon in this community college.
Prince George’s Community College has planned an ambitious foray into the world of international class institutions of higher education. 40,000 students are in a wide range of nearly 60 programs of study in classes of 20 each. The academic programs are for the transfer and career programs. Continuing education programs are also available. The community is permitted to use recreational facilities and the meeting rooms. With such good facilities and atmosphere, the student retention rate is still far below expectation. Only 59% of the full-time students of PGCC came back for the second year while 43% of the part-time students returned i.e nearly half of the students who join are not returning to complete that precious degree that they hoped to achieve.
A significant reason for student attrition is the lack of meaningful contact with a mentor (Gardner, 1996). Students are believed to drop out within the first 6 weeks of college which is considered a vulnerable period. Dropouts have occurred because these students have been disillusioned with the new college life and before mentorship services were started. This may be happening also due to the inadequacy of the mentorship program where it is already in force.
The A.L.A.N.A. Experinece (African, Latin, Asian, Native American) is the mentoring program introduced in the PGCC for increasing student retention. Efforts need to be made to evaluate and monitor the A.L.A.N.A. in PGCC. The retention rates are yet to be determined after this hopeful program and the success of the program ascertained. The statement of the problem thereby is: “The impact of the planned faculty mentoring program A.L.A.N.A. through intervention strategies is critical to the student success and student retention rates in PGCC freshmen”.
This study intends to elicit the impact of the faculty mentoring program A.L.A.N.A. on the retention of the undergraduate students of PGCC. The retention rates of previous years were taken from the archives of the library at the institution. They were to be compared to the present rates after the progam had been established. The study would also be determining the effectiveness of the program in terms of its aims and goals. How the program differs in utility between persistors and non persistors is also to be decided.
Rationale for Study
Obtaining a degree is a significant factor for the persistence of students. Even students who missed the earlier opportunity to make good their degree, now go back trying to secure that degree but the key ingredient in student retention is quality academic advising or mentoring. Students believe that the higher the educational status, the greater is the chance for getting a job, earning better wages and retiring with a pension (Duggan, 2008, p. 437). However academic advising has been noted to be the lowest in student satisfaction (Keup & Stolzenberg, 2004).
With the students aiming for the sky, they would be highly satisfied if good mentoring was available. The opinion of faculty on academic advising was investigated by Allen and Smith in 2004 among the faculty of an urban university. The faculty felt most responsible for advising functions but they were only moderately satisfied with their own work (Allen & Smith, 2008, p. 410). The students however were not satisfied at all with the mentoring they obtained. Quality advising which can positively contribute to student retention requires the development of skills in integration, referral, information, individuation and shared responsibility. These skills help the students coordinate their curricular and co-curricular activities. They may be referred to campus resources and given adequate information on their study requirements. The students would get a better idea of how things work at the university and they would be treated as individuals. The quality advising would provide a shared responsibility to students who would do better in planning, solving problems and making appropriate decisions (Smith & Allen, 2006). Being a good advisor could affect the advisors negatively in that they would be sought out for advising, the allotted advisor being left out (Dillon & Fisher, 2000, p. 21). The selected faculty then have higher advising loads. There were not many studies where the faculty assessed their own advising. In one study, the faculty rated themselves higher than the students rated them (Stickle, 1982). Advising has included study planning, solving career problems, non-academic issues like self-understanding and personal concerns. Different institutions advise on differing topics. The non academic issues are rated lower.
The research on faculty mentoring programs and their effectiveness in student retention rates has inspired the study of student retention rates following the mentoring program in one college, the PGCC. Different studies have used the demographic variables to differentiate the students who were retained and those who were not. However systematic evaluation was not found in the literature that was researched. Program impact on persistence participants was to be studied by exploring the differences in the persistors and non persistors on demographic variables, mentor contact and involvement of participants. The information obtained from the evaluation research is to be utilized for determining the effectiveness of the A.L.A.N.A. program in PGCC in the undergraduate first year students of Fall 2009. The following questions are being explored.
The research questions are:
- Is there a difference in persistence rates before program implementation and after?
- Did the A.L.A.N.A. program effectively meet its goals and objectives?
- Was the A.L.A.N.A. program useful in increasing the retention rates in PGCC?
This study is evaluating the faculty mentoring program in the PGCC called the A.L.A.N.A. Experience program in the students of Fall 2009. Generalizations may not be possible as the student community varies in demography and environment may be different too in different higher education institutions. However some aspects may be similar in comparable settings.
This evaluation study is based on the assumption that involvement of students increases with the contact between the faculty and students and they are more likely to be integrated academically and socially into the college community and this leads to student persistence and success (Tinto, 1987).
Academic advising helps undergraduate students connect their academic career and life goals and involves integration, referral, information, individuation and shared responsibility (Allen & Smith 2008, p. 402).
Academic success refers to the those elements of students’ collegiate experiences that relate to retention and graduation (Post, 1998).
Attrition is student retention.
Impact evaluation is the evaluation that assesses the overall effectiveness of a program in producing favorable cognitive effects, beliefs and behavioral effects in the target population (Rossi and Freeman, 1993).
Mentoring has been defined as ‘‘a nurturing process in which a more skilled or more experienced person, serving as a role model, teaches, sponsors, encourages, counsels and befriends a less skilled or less experienced person for the purpose of promoting the latter’s professional and/or personal development’’ (Anderson & Shannon, 1988, as cited in Paglis, 2006, p. 451). In Greek mythology, Mentor is the trusted counselor of Odysseus (Scott & Homant, 2007, p. 62).
Mentors are faculty, administrators, staff, peers, and community/business representatives from diverse educational and personal backgrounds who volunteer their time to counsel and guide a student or group of students for a mutually agreed upon time period towards their educational and personal goals (The A.L.A.N.A. Experience, PGCC).
Mentees or protégés are the students who are to be mentored by the faculty.
Contact is the interaction of the mentee with the mentor outside the formal boundaries of class (Tinto, 1987).
Student retention or persistence both refer to the students who remain in the college and complete their study followed by graduation.
Social support is the existence or availability of people on whom we rely, people who let us know that they care about, value and love us (Sarason, Levine, Basham & Sarason, 1983).
Time series design is a quasi-experimental design where data are collected at two different times, measurements being taken before a program or treatment and after it so that the outcomes in both may be compared in order to assess the effectiveness of the program or treatment situations may be compared.
Very many higher educational institutions have mentoring programs with specific objectives, the main one being student retention. However not all of them have had studies which determined the impact of these programs or how the programs could be modified to target better retention rates. As this study required the research and collection of data for analysis, the A.L.A.N.A. Experience was selected for evaluation. This was chosen as it had most of the requirements of a good retention strategy. This study is a replication of the Fayetteville study which was expansive, well-structured and covered the whole campus. It used a longitudinal analysis and a Time series design. Program effectiveness will be examined by using the findings for the undergraduates of the first year of Fall 2009. Institutional and survey data from participants would be included in the evaluation. The literature based on the subjects of mentoring and student retention has been selected from many peer reviewed recent resources. Details of the research methodology will be presented in Chapter Three. Chapter Four deals with the findings and analysis of the data collected. Implications for future research and practice are provided in Chapter Five.
This search for literature pertaining to mentoring and student retention or attrition or persistence has revealed a vista of information which has been compiled here systematically. The impact of the faculty mentoring programs on student retention has been discussed widely. Torrance (2005) describes mentoring relationships as deep and caring. Mentors are close, trusted colleagues, and guides to their proteges. The mentor–protégé relationship forms over time and becomes something of great value to both the involved. Mutuality was defined as having a reciprocal relationship where both mentor and protégé share feelings and values (Wilde & Schau, 2005). Comprehensiveness was defined as being broad in scope where many interpersonal and role characteristics are shared both in and beyond the academic environment.
Where mentoring has long been associated with the apprentice model of graduate education, higher education administration increasingly viewed it as a retention and enrichment strategy for undergraduate education (Jacobi, 1991). A growing body of literature attests to the importance of mentors in undergraduate education (Rowe, 1989). The professional literature, the popular press, and students themselves seem to agree that mentoring is a critical component of effective undergraduate education. This chapter, however, will provide a review of the literature that surrounds the process of mentoring in higher education, specifically at the undergraduate level. First, evaluation research is briefly addressed. Then, since most faculty mentoring programs are founded on Tinto’s (1975, 1987) theory of departure, the theory is presented as the conceptual basis for this investigation. Next, for a better understanding of the mentoring concept, an overview of the mentoring process followed, by an examination of the literature on the importance of faculty-student interaction is provided. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the literature on mentoring and minority populations.
“Evaluation research is the systematic application of social research procedures for assessing the conceptualization, design, implementation and utility of social intervention programs” (Rossi & Freeman, 1999 as cited in Clarke, 1999, p. 5). Basic research aims at discovering new knowledge but evaluation is a kind of social research where the aim of research is to confirm the effectiveness of existing knowledge which informs and guides a practical approach. Evaluation does not prove but improves (Clarke, 1999, p. 2). Programming and policy making are improved and it is action oriented. The method of research is unimportant in evaluation research. Academic research and evaluation research differ in many aspects. Evaluation research is a form of social inquiry which decides the merit, worth or value of a policy or planned intervention. Here emphasis is on practical knowledge to assist in decision making. The relationship between the researcher and the researched will have outcomes. A program evaluation is different from audit. In program evaluation, the relevance of the various components and future developments are considered (Clarke, 1999, p.5). Audits check quality assurance. Monitoring is different from evaluation research in that there is no consideration of value in monitoring.
Evaluation research is described as being of two types: formative and summative. Formative evaluation is done to provide feedback for making improvements. The study would therefore evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the program or intervention. The impression and experiences of the program planners and implementers are evaluated. The drawbacks of the program would be obtained and the methods to improve on them would also become evident. In summative evaluation, the main aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and whether it needs to be continued or could be abolished altogether. The formative is action oriented while the summative is conclusion oriented (Clarke, 1999, p.7). The congruence between program design, implementation and outcomes would be focused upon in evaluation research. Evaluation could be made at multiple levels of analysis as the extent of success may vary at different levels. The main evaluation would focus on the impact of the program for a specific population at a given location.
The objective of most evaluations is to determine the impact of a program at a given location to a specific population (Symonette, 1996). All student retention programs set goals and objectives that can be measured. Systematic review of the trends available in the past and present and projected trends for the future is essential for completing the task of measurement of effectiveness. The most significant aspect is to specify the student status baselines. This provides the frame of reference to judge progress in terms of “value-added” (net gain) contributions for the program (Symonette, 1996).
This study begins with an evaluation research into the A.L.A.N.A. Experience mentoring program beginning from the year 1999. Based on the findings of the research, a survey is being planned for the A.L.A.N.A. Experince mentoring program of the PGCC for the first year undergraduate students of Fall 2009.
Theoretical Basis of the Study
Tinto’s Theory of Departure- Tinto’s Model
Tinto’s specific model of longitudinal process model of student attrition focused on the interaction of the student with the environment of the institution of higher learning to explain the process of student departure. If students do not adjust to the social environment of the institution, their tendency to drop out or depart is greater. Tinto considered the institution of higher learning as a smaller unit of the society. If the student assimilates to the college atmosphere, retention is possible. If not he is isolated and leaves.
Perhaps the most influential attempt to explain the process of persistence in higher education as a function of student institution “fit”, was put forward by Tinto (1975) (see Fig. 1). He theorized that the primary determinants of successful persistence can be broken down into: factors that are drawn from experiences prior to college and individual student characteristics and factors that are drawn from experiences at college.
Experiences before college and student characteristics are input variables that cannot be affected greatly by schools. However, student experiences subsequent to admission, which Tinto referred to as “integration” variables, are affected by school policies and practices. Tinto (1987) suggested that “the more central one’s membership is to the mainstream of institutional life the more likely, other things being equal, is one to persist” (p. 123). Typically, postsecondary education persistence studies find that academic integration has an important impact on persistence (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Consequently, persistence is often viewed as a measure of how well students integrate into a particular school. Tinto believes that the level of commitment of the student to the academic goals is a strong predictor of the likelihood that they remain in their institution.
Tinto’s student integration model explains the student integration process as mostly a function of academic and social experiences in college. Whether a student would persist in college would be predicted by the extent to which he is able to integrate academically and socially. Tinto measured successful academic integration by grade point average (GPA) and evaluated social integration by the development and frequency of positive interactions with peers and faculty and involvement in extracurricular activity. Tinto found that integration along these two dimensions produced stronger student commitment to their specific institutions and increased their persistence. The individual’s commitment to his goal of a degree and his commitment to the institution finally decided whether he would end up as a dropout (Tinto, 1975, p. 96). Tinto (1975) also argued that insufficient interactions with peers and faculty and differences with the prevailing value patterns of other students are likely to result in dropouts. In other words, students who feel they do not belong and have a low sense of community tend to feel isolated and are at a risk of withdrawing. He asserted that a person has the tendency to leave college if he finds an alternative interest that provides greater benefits (p. 98). If external activities become more attractive than college completion, a student will drop out. The more a student’s experiences serve to integrate the student socially and intellectually into the life of the college, the more likely the student is to persist until degree completion.
In more recent works, Tinto (1987) emphasized the importance of learning communities that facilitate collaborative work so that students learn together rather than apart and with the use of classroom assessment techniques that are going to encourage discourse about learning. Tinto’s (1987) model validates the need for schools to assume a proactive role in a student’s integration process. Accordingly, many colleges include a “freshman experience” orientation that can increase persistence ( Koutsoudaki, Krsek, & Rodger,1999). These orientations are used to assist new freshmen in making the transition from high school to college, orient students to the services and culture of the college and its campus; and integrate students into an intellectual community of students and faculty. Additionally, Hashway, Hammond, and Rogers (2000) provided evidence that completion of remedial education programs increased first-year retention rates among academically at-risk students. Positive effects were also found for students completing a summer transition program (Wolf-Wendel. Tuttle, & Keller-Wolff, 1999).
However, educators who desire to study the persistence of non-traditional students may find that the Tinto’s model has limited applicability, since it is best suited to institutional analysis of the persistence of traditional undergraduate students. Tinto’s model is not as useful for studying the attrition of older students for whom academic and social integration within the university may be less influential. Additionally, Yorke (1999) suggested that Tinto’s theory has relatively little to say about the impact of external factors in shaping student’s perceptions, commitments, and reactions that he feels are important. Nonetheless, the work of Tinto has been particularly important in establishing the role of the school in promoting an environment for student integration and remains relevant in this regard.
Faculty/Student contact encourages involvement and involvement encourages integration which leads to persistence. Effective mentoring can increase the incidence of faculty/student contact, intensify involvement, integrated, thereby increasing persistence rates.
Tinto’s Revised Model
Tinto’s (1993) revision of his initial conceptual model (Tinto, 1975) included a more detailed discussion of the interaction between behavior and persistence of students as they move toward greater integration with their social and academic environments. In fact, in the discussion of his revised model, Tinto explicitly described ways in which student persistence was described with a strong behavioral component. Most of the existing empirical literature, testing the Tinto model, (Braxton & Brier, 1989; Halpin, 1990; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1980) has focused on the perceptual component of academic and social integration, while ignoring measures of actual behaviors. A few studies have included some behavioral measures with perceptual measures in the social and academic integration scales (Nora & Rendon, 1990; Pascarella & Chapman, 1983).
Tinto’s model of individual student departure is mostly discussed and explored in the higher education literature concerning retention and student persistence towards degree completion.
Involvement is believed to be critical in the student persistence process. Tinto asserted that the process of becoming integrated into the academic and social systems of a college occurs when student persistence successfully navigates the stages of separation, transition, and incorporation. Separation involves the students’ ability to disassociate themselves to some degree from the norms of past communities, including families, high school friends, and other local ties.
Mentors’ supplemental instruction, and other peer learning strategies, relate to Tinto’s theory that students who are integrated into the social and academic life of an institution are more likely to continue. Peer learning simultaneously relates the class material to what students already know and, thereby, contributes to the elimination of what Tinto refers to as “incongruence” (Martin & Arendale, 1993). Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of supplemental instruction to participants. Studies by Martin, Lorton, Blanc and Evans (1977), Martin and Blanc (1980), and Martin, Blanc and DeBuhr (1983) all demonstrated positive corelations between participation, course grades and retention (Martin & Arendale, 1993).
Simply preparing to be a peer tutor enhances the motivation and preparation to be a successful mentor (Topping, 1998, p. 52). Existing knowledge is reorganized making room for cognitive aspects for the benefit of the mentor and mentee. The student benefits include “more active, interactive and participative learning, immediate feedback, swift prompting, lowered anxiety with correspondingly higher self-disclosure, and greater student ownership of the learning process” (Topping, 1998, p. 53). There are also positive impacts on student/teacher ratios, motivation and attitudes, and, potentially, flow-on effects to social interaction and engagement.
. Frequency of contact has been identified as a positive aspect of mentorship. This is similar to the Social Network Theory (Thompson, 1995). Valence is the perceived emotional relationship with network members. A close relationship with a mentor produces a positive sense of identity and emotional security (Santos, 2005, p. 339). Positive self perceptions, self efficacy personal control, self esteem and self respect become evident. The value others have for the student too increases. The social embeddedness in the Social Network Theory where the frequency of contact with members of the network improving relationship can be compared to the ideas of Tinto’s theory of integration of a student with the university culture.
Homogeneity is another dimension of the mentor-student relationship. Through the sharing of common viewpoints with homogeneity in values, norms, and expectations and attributes like gender, occupational goals, cultural values and other such features, the affiliation between mentor and mentee strengthens. Ethnic and cultural similarity could produce effective communication and trust in the mentoring relationship (Santos, 2005, p.340). Studies have shown that mentors who had similar ethnic background had a more positive relationship than with the mentors who had children of a different culture but there have been studies which indicated just the opposite. If the students come from a family with little education, the support they get from ethnically similar mentors is significant.
In many communities, the comprehensive supports and services that help children and families to thrive are often not obtainable, reasonable, or reachable. The beneficiaries are able to save themselves from problems getting out of hand if such services are available. Further remedies should also be available if the need arises. Problems are usually recurring, consistent and overwhelming. The inclusive supports are a consolation. Separating themselves from the existing norms is a stage for the students. Initially, students may begin to reject some or many of the norms of their family and friends. This separation process often starts as anticipatory socialization while students prepare to leave home for college. Transition is “a period of passage between the old and the new, before the full adoption of new norms and patterns of behavior and after the onset of separation from old ones” (Tinto, 1993, p.97). The scope of transition depends in part on how prepared for it students were when they entered college (Attinasi, 1989). This would seem to be particularly relevant to the population that comprises the sample in our study. Transition occurs after the successful negotiation of separation. In transition, students find themselves in a situation where they have separated themselves from the norms and patterns of their past lives but have not yet adopted the new norms and behaviors from their fresh environment. As students enter a campus environment, they begin to interact with that environment. In doing so, they encounter new values, attitudes, behaviors, ideas, and norms. These interactive encounters allow students to explore new experiences and adopt normative beliefs and patterns that may differ from the beliefs and patterns from home. Incorporation happens when students adapt to and adopt the prevailing norms and behavior patterns of their college or university community. Once incorporated, the students become integrated, although successful integration does not necessarily ensure persistence.
Problems with Tinto’s Model
In addressing the question of facilitative processes, it is believed that Astin, Kown, and Green’s (1987) ideas about involvement become extremely helpful in expanding our understanding of a model of college student persistence. Students who become successfully incorporated into the college environment have negotiated their separation from the past (Tinto, 1993, p. 98) and have been able to identify and adopt new norms and behavioral patterns that are appropriate to the specific context of their college or university. Tinto suggested that the various activities at many institutions like residence hall activities, student union activities, contact with faculty, intramural sports, and a variety of other curricular, cocurricular, and extracurricular activities facilitate the integration. As Tinto speaks of integration leading to models of assimilation and acculturation, new theoretical directions are emerging which seek to include institutional adaptation as a key component of developing approaches to transition and retention.
McKenzie and Schweitzer (as cited in Zepke & Leach, 2005) have even discovered a negative correlation between integration and grade point averages. Studies have indicated that Tinto’s theory of departure does not meet the needs of students of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Student departure is understood less by how the student fits into a pre-existing university culture, but rather by student’s “perceptions of how well their cultural attributes are valued, accommodated and how differences between their cultures of origin and immersion are bridged” (Zepke & Leach, 2005, p. 47).
McInnis and others (2000) have also demonstrated that the trend now is to have the university or college adapting to the student’s requirements rather than the traditional reverse. How the university interacts with its students and the way in which issues of retention and attrition are addressed may be now different and open up greater possibilities as students are of diverse cultures and ethnicity.
For the undergraduate students, these considerations are central to how effective any mentoring or peer assisted learning project can be. With a transition in the approach to student retention and the need for adaptation by the institution to the student, the necessity for more research into exactly how and to what extent mentoring benefits the mentors, mentees and the academic environment would prove useful. Honest evaluation of the limitations of peer mentoring is also important. Whether a continued shift away from professional teachers and tutors and towards peer-based learning reflects an economic imperative rather than a pedagogic one must be fully investigated. More successful retention strategies may be found by new flexible organizational approaches to student engagement. Ongoing researches on mentoring and peer assisted learning for undergraduate students must address the new approach of university adaptation to student requirements.
The Undergraduate Mentoring Process
Student retention programs set goals and objectives that are achieveable. The outcomes or better retention rates are measurable. A systematic review of the history of the trends of retention need to be followed from early years. A comparison of the data available for the past and present would provide a picture that could be visualized for the future.
Student dissatisfaction is a growing problem in higher education. Faculty has been implicated in this issue (Allen & Smith, 2008, p. 397). That the faculty needs to do more and better academic advising or mentoring is the need of the hour. Faculty though generally dissatisfied with their own work do not feel responsible for all the varieties of advising they are deemed to do. A gap in academic advising is obvious and it needs to be closed. Quality academic advising is the key feature in student retention. Academic advising directly affects student retention and indirectly affects grades, intentions and self confidence in their own role (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). Academic advising is found to be the college experience which produces the least satisfaction (Keup & Stolzenberg, 2004). The perception of students that faculty are least interested in their role of advisor when they have umpteen other preoccupations in the college is a false impression that needs to be eliminated. Faculty is also upset that advising is a hapless job that do not get them any rewards for this extra job expected of them. The holistic level of advising is useful. The persistence of students or retention rates depends on the integration and adaptation to the university (Astin, 1982). If a campus allows social integration to develop, the disintegrative effects of attending a new college is not experienced (Murguia, Padilla, & Pavel, 1991).
Peer influence has been considered the main reason for student retention in college. Even dual academic advisors have been considered (Allen & Smith, 2008). The duties of each have been suggested. The first would address issues related to academics, career and life goals and connect all the three to a successful academic period. The second advisor would provide support and help solve the non academic barriers to success. Good academic advising is the key to success (Allen & Smith, 2008, p. 409). Student retention has been consistently been shown as the result of the interaction between the advisors and the students (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005).
One point that has been emphasized has been the significance of the initial development of a relationship between the mentor and mentee (Shotton, 2007, p. 90). The overall development and effectiveness would depend on that initial impression. The detection of special qualities in the mentor helped the mentee to trust the mentor. A fruitful relationship appears to require four factors. The peer must be committed to the program and the mentee. The care offered must be genuine. The mentor must appear admirable to the mentee and be a role model. The ability of the mentor and the mentee to relate to one another is essential (Shotton, 2007, p. 90). These factors if present at the initial stage lead to a positive relationship.
Students have related experiences of how they could detect the insincerity of the mentors at the initial meeting and non compliance with the program events after that. This would hinder their relationship and not help the student at all. They have specifically pointed out on how their mentor in a different program was just the opposite and a caring person. Students also appreciated the idea of reciprocity, the idea of returning to the community what they received in college and they admired mentors who felt the same way (Shotton, 2007, p. 92). The peer mentor is loved if he is able to relate to the circumstances of the mentee and the environment he came from. This is possible especially if the two in the relationship are from the same community and the chances of tribal or institutional values arising as barriers are nil. Minority students appreciate mentors from their own race or ethnicity (Moore & Amey, 1988). African-American students related to African-American faculty (Ugbah & Williams , 1989). Apart from the mentor-mentee relationship, close relationships between friends that allow personal sharing and the desire to spend time together are a development advantage (Corwin, 2005). Peers helped mentees to overcome potential barriers by connecting students to the community, providing support and guidance.
The A.L.A.N.A. Experience
Student retention is the focus at this period of time. PGCC has begun a mentoring program called the A.L.A.N.A. Experience. A.L.A.N.A. stands for African, Latin American, Asian and Native American. The A.L.A.N.A.Experience is a mentoring and retention program with the specific aims of improving academic performance, retention, transfer and graduation of students. Structured support and mentoring relationships are the processes selected to this end. Students who opt for the A.L.A.N.A. Experience are allotted to the faculty according to their subject major, availability of faculty and mentor qualities.
The mentors are taken from the faculty, administrators, staff, peers and community or business representatives with different educational and personal backgrounds. These mentors volunteered to spend time in counseling or guiding a student or a group of them in their academic pursuits and personal goals. The time being spent for the mentoring was mutually agreed upon. There was an application process. Following the intake, agreements were signed.
Meetings of various kinds like office meetings, camp resource meetings, goal setting sessions, academic progress meetings were planned and conducted. Social gatherings and cultural diversions and field trips brought the faculty and mentees together and helped the faculty to know the student well. Field trips and job shadowing assignments instilled in the mentees the desire to reach the level of the executives they saw and the security of having a job of substance. Group and follow-up sessions saw the sharing of experiences and frank opinions about their exposures and mentoring. Contact through e-mail and over the phone among the faculty and students formed a network which strengthened the relationships with the mentor and other students.
The students had to take deep interest to reach the objectives of the A.L.A.N.A. Experince. The responsibility began with the application for participation. An A.L.A.N.A. Experince member met the student to determine his objectives in college about academic and career aims. An Academic Action Plan was designed and then the student signed the agreement. An orientation was attended and the student apprised of his responsibilities. Total involvement meant that the student participated in program activities and met with the mentor as required. The students were assigned responsibilities which ensured a successful academic life in PGCC. Apart from regularly attending class and keeping appointments, students were expected to approach their mentors to solve their problems in class and otherwise. Four sessions per semester was the minimum number of meetings with the mentor. The student was expected to shoulder the responsibility of making phone calls, appointments and follow through with them to ensure that he meets the mentor. Short-term goals were to be identified and reached with the help of the mentor who was to be informed about academic progress and other achievements. The student contacted the office at least once to intimate update of academic performance.
The mentors too had several responsibilities. They met the student frequently as planned and without unnecessarily postponing schedules and assisted in the development of particular skills the student needed to be successful in. The students’ academic performance was monitored. Advice on developing realistic careers and goals was imparted. Any shortfall noticed was rectified by appropriate referral to support services. The reluctance of students to meet the mentor voluntarily was corrected by the approach of the mentor in fostering an atmosphere which made the student feel welcome. The commitment to work for one year with a student was fulfilled.
The A.L.A.N.A. Expereince provided the students enough scope for a close relationship with the mentor. Meaningful contacts between the mentor and mentees allowed the students to become really involved in a satisfying college life within the academic, social and cultural aspects. The relationship and interaction with a caring mentor promoted student retention. Students believed that A.L.A.N.A. Experience provided them with a sense of self worth and that it was a wonderful program. Social activities like tours and religious activities like retreat were considered fabulous. They felt the transition from school to college life smooth and excellent. Mentors were amazed that a little bit of timely advice could make a world of difference to a student. It provided insight into the difficulties of a student newly entering a complicated life in college and a sense of accomplishment when some student fared better with advice. The sensation of sharing victories of students was gratifying and rewarding. These achievements could range from graduation, securing employment and starting families. If not for the social and cultural activities and a holistic approach to mentoring, student retention would have been an unaccomplished feat till date.
Significance of the Faculty-Student Relationship
Overview of the Mentoring Process
The concept of mentoring has been around since the mythical ages when Mentor, a friend, and counselor was entrusted with the education of Odysseus’ son (Adams & Scott, 2006). The aspirations and advancement of a protégé have been influenced by trusted advisors for long periods. Mythology speaks of mentors influencing their mentees in all facets of life, which included physical, intellectual, spiritual, social, and administrative development (Clawson & Clark, 2005). Odysseus son also learnt how to think and act for himself (Kay as cited in Crow & Matthews, 2006). Since that time, mentoring has been useful in business circuits and academia but appears to be making a powerful comeback now. However the relationship described between the mentor and Odysseus’ son may not be duplicated on the journey to success. Researchers have developed definitions to assist in understanding the mentoring process for practical use in various professional arenas.
Definitions of Mentoring
Mentoring is defined as a process of an integrated approach to advising, coaching, and nurturing, focused on creating a viable relationship to enhance individual career or personal or professional growth and development (Adams, 2005). A mentor in an administrative context involves a person who is active, dynamic, visionary, knowledgeable, and skilled with a committed philosophy that keeps the teaching and learning of students in focus, and who guides other leaders to be similarly active and dynamic (Crow & Matthews, 2006). Another definition for mentoring is expressed by the nature of the activity when an older, more experienced member dons a guiding role with a less experienced protégé (Kogler-Hill, Bahniuk, Dobos & Rouner,1989 as cited in Kelly & Schweitzer, 2007). Mentoring is a nurturing process in which a more skilled or a more experienced person, serving as a role model, teaches, sponsors, encourages, counsels, and befriends a less skilled or less experienced person for the purpose of promoting the latter’s professional and/or personal development (Anderson & Shannon as cited in Colwell, 2006). The mentoring process is carried out within the context of an ongoing, caring relationship between the mentor and mentee.
Mentoring potentially can retain and assist a person with professional growth after he has entered the work place through the processes or activities of guiding, nurturing, caring, and experience. Individuals fortunate to have a mentor advance further, faster, and face fewer adjustment problems than those without mentors (Adams, 2005). Mentoring relationships that will be successful for the mentor and mentee need to be established.
Mentoring has been classified into formal and informal (Scott & Homant, 2007, p. 63). Formal mentoring is the “the one-to-one relationship that evolved through reasonably distinct phases between the mentor and the adult learner.” (Cohen, 1995, p. 9). This includes four phases. Foundations for a trustwotworthy relationship are laid in the early phase. Mentors assist the mentees to establish goals in the second phase. In the third phase mentors help mentees to explore their interests, beliefs and decisions. In the fourth phase, mentors become role models and guide their mentees through difficult challenges. The mentee grows, learns and overcomes hurdles in a formal mentoring program (Newby & Corner, 1997). Newby had five steps which differed slightly. The readiness of the programme and the goals are decided in the first step. The selection criteria for the mentor and mentees are established as a second step. Both groups are trained in the third step. The mentors and mentees are matched as a fourth step. The mentor and mentee program planning is supported in the fifth step. However a formal mentoring has chances of failure if the people in the relationship do not have common interests and a healthy attitude towards each other.
The mentor is the person who guides another to avenues of success. Just being a mentor is insufficient. It is more important to be a good mentor for a desired outcome. A good mentor has many qualities (Rowley, 2007). Commitment to the role of a mentor, accepting the mentee, providing appropriate support, effective in interpersonal relationship, communicating hope and optimism and being a role model of continuous learning are some of the recognised qualities of a good mentor He understands the role and will meet the mentee’s needs, is knowledgeable in the desired field as well as respected; is a person who listens and is a problem solver (Young, 2005). The relationship is one of trust (Gehrke & Kay 2005 as cited in Colwell, 2006). The role of a guide helps the protégé through the obstacles in the path of success in the given profession. The mentor is sensitive and understanding of the protégé’s needs, has excellent interpersonal communication skills and is clear during the thinking process (Wittenberg, 2006). Knowing the characteristics of a mentor should allow the mentor and protégé to assess if the mentoring relationship can be successful. If the person desiring to be mentor knows through assessment that he possesses these characteristics, this one aspect of the mentoring relationship is sufficient potential for success.
The person who is being mentored is the mentee. This person requires the guidance of the mentor and has responsibilities in the relationship. It is not solely the mentor’s responsibility to make the relationship work. The protégé must respect and trust the mentor to establish a caring relationship (Gehrke & Kay, 2005). He must understand that the relationship is mutual in terms of both persons gaining from the opportunity (Young & Adams, 2000). Responsibility is demonstrated by taking initiative and showing resourcefulness (Adams, 2006). The mentee must be willing to enter into a mentoring relationship. Developing a plan for accomplishing goals he must listen to advice and respond appropriately. Hurdles may arise in the mentoring relationship if the mentee is not clear in terms of the relationship (Howard, 2006). He should not behave irresponsibly like a spoilt or needy child. The relationship should not be expected to be one of equals and is extremely important as an opportunity for growth. The mentee must be open to frank feedback and aware of the issues that can be encountered by having a mentor (Arthur, 2006). Being committed and willing to learn, he must develop an interpersonal relationship with the mentor. The mentor too must understand the characteristics and responsibilities of the mentee and can assist in establishing a mentor/mentee relationship.
Knowing the steps in establishing the relationship is integral for a successful relationship.
Establishing the Mentoring Relationship
Before a mentor/protégé relationship can be successful, one must begin the process of establishing the mentoring relationship (Wittenberg, 2006). The protégé must assess initially why a mentor is needed and what the protégé hopes to gain from the mentor. In the assessment process, the mentee must address expectations by posing two questions as to what he expects from the relationship and what characteristics he would bring to it.
After making an assessment, the next step for the protégé is to identify and solicit a mentor. To identify a mentor, the protégé must search for someone who has the aforementioned characteristics to be a mentor, someone who will meet his needs as a mentor, and someone who will meet his expectations (Wittenberg, 2006). After a potential mentor has been identified, it is incumbent upon the protégé to solicit the mentor. To solicit a person to become the mentor requires interaction in a face-to-face meeting (Wittenberg, 2006). The protégé, in this face-to-face meeting, should be aware of his own needs, expectations, and ascertain if the person he meets desires to become a mentor.
The last phase includes addressing the type of relationship that will develop between mentor and protégé. Ground rules may be set to establish the relationship into a successful one. Asessment, identification and discussion between the two persons involved should facilitate the laying down of ground rules. The mutual interests may be identified. The mentor may set forth his expectations. How the process of building the relationship is going to progress is an integral part of the discussion. The mentor needs to know any specific traits that the mentee has (Wittenberg, 2006).
Establishing the relationship requires thinking in terms of what should or should not be expected. One of the most phenomenal aspects is to realize that the relationship being established is not designed to be a friendship. Even though the mentor should be friendly, the relationship should not be established as a mere friendship. It should not simulate one between equals. It should be one tinged with care for the mentee and a positive attitude towards making the academic life of the mentee more knowledgeable and a success. The mentee is set on the correct path by the mentor and assisted where a lack of information is the problem. The mentor may not be an advisor or counselor regarding personal issues beyond development in the professional field.
As the growth of the menteé is the experience in the relationship, it is also important to realize that one may require multiple mentors or a change of mentors as the occasion demands. Changing mentors requires a detaching process. This can be accomplished easily by simplifying goals, strategies and objectives and establishing them early in the new relationship (Wittenberg, 2006). Awareness of possible changes will allow the mentee to gradually move on to another relationship and still have his mentoring needs met. If a mentee can effectively progress through the initial phases of establishing the mentor/mentee relationship, the potential for a successful relationship is heightened.
Successful Mentoring Relationships
The success of the mentoring relationship depends on the mentor and mentee possessing the previously mentioned characteristics and employing the skills embodied in those characteristics. What they both do to make a relationship decides how successful it could be in the long run. Success of mentoring relationships can primarily be determined if the needs of the mentee are being met and the goals designed are achieved.
According to the Twin Cities One to One Mentoring Partnership (Wood, 2000), the successful mentor makes a personal commitment to be involved with another person for an extended period of time. Commitment and dedication demonstrated by the mentor’s accessibility over a period of time allows the relationship to develop into a seamless learning culture. This involves developing the mentee, listening, and helping him to solve problems. Mentoring can be a lifelong process that is cyclical, where the mentee eventually becomes a mentor and develops mentees (Young, 2005). The successful mentor exhibits flexibility and openness by providing constructive feedback while helping the mentee make the most effective decisions (Lindenberger & Zachary, 2007; Wittenberg, 2006).
The mentor is successful when the ability to envision solutions and opportunities as well as barriers are exercised. Having a vision and being insightful can assist the mentee in attaining the goal of personal and professional growth and development. The successful mentor uses the power of his position and experience to assist in the development of the mentee’s career thereby deriving considerable satisfaction from the achievements of the mentee (Gray, 2006).
There is almost no institution or environment in which mentoring is not discussed as a critical tool for personal, professional, and career development. Mentoring programs within industrial organizations are commonplace, and they have a growing occurrence on college campuses. Much of the attention related to mentoring on campus has been directed toward undergraduate education rather than graduate training and development.
Among the many benefits of functional mentoring to protégés are guidance, support, enhanced network, and feedback. Undergraduate students benefit from guidance by the mentors in many ways. Among these are academic guidance, career development, personal guidance, and overall aid in the socialization of the undergraduate student. They also benefit from an enhanced access to a professional network offered by the mentor. The undergraduate student benefits from the exposure a mentor can provide. Through this exposure, the student gains the ability to develop meaningful relationships with future colleagues in their respective professions. Thirdly, undergraduate students benefit from receiving honest feedback from their mentors. Their ca reers are also promoted.
There are universal benefits of mentoring for mentors as well. However, like the mentoring benefits for mentees, mentor benefits should be expanded when cross-race or cros cultural mentoring is provided. Potential benefits to faculty mentors include both the sartisfaction of assisting real projects, relishing of the increased power of being able to lead and guide, networking as mentee advances, feeling a pleasure in mentee’s achievements, developing a sense of competence and regard to oneself for being a part of the success formula. When mentoring occurs across racial lines, mentors reap the extra benefits of gaining cross-cultural exposure and competence in addition to making a human capital investment that will promote equity and social justice in the discipline (Newby & Heide, 2005, p. 64).
Functional mentoring has been considered as critical in preparing undergraduate and graduate students for careers (Murray, 2006, p. 64). Functional mentoring correlates strongly with both success and satisfaction in academia, business (Burke, 2005; Fagenson, 2007), and education (Wilde & Schau, 2005). There are characteristics common to mentors that promote functional mentoring relationships regardless of the mentees’ identity. Being knowledgeable, experienced, visible, and powerful are some of the features of credible faculty members (Wilde & Schau, 2005). Many of them are professionally mature and accomplished enough to be able to offer the student critical information about a growing career in his discipline. Faculty mentors need to be visible both within their respective profession and accessible to the mentees. The mentor must be visible to the student for him to engage in role modeling (Wilde & Schau, 2005). In order to be an effective advocate for their protégés, the faculty mentor needs to have formal power over the development of the mentee, within their respective organization and within the profession.
In many ways, the relationship forged during the mentoring process can be thought of as a complex social exchange with perceived benefits for all parties involved. The social exchange theory provides a base for understanding the mentoring process. This theory holds that individuals will naturally seek to maximize rewards in any social exchange in which they enter (Homans, 2005; Blau, 2005). It means that individuals will seek out social relations which are likely to result in favorable outcomes for them in the form of expected rewards. The reward can be as simple as a friendship or job connection. To engage in an exchange, an individual will present themselves as an attractive option to the individual wish to “exchange.” Among the many benefits of functional mentoring to protégés are guidance, support, an enhanced network, and feedback. Graduate students benefit from guidance by their mentors in many ways. Among these are academic guidance, career development, personal guidance, and overall aid in the socialization of the graduate student. They also benefit from an enhanced access to a professional network offered by the mentor.
However, mutual attraction depends on how rewarding the exchange will be. In an equitable two-party exchange, both parties understand how the other party will benefit from this exchange (Homans, 2005; Blau, 2005). The social exchange theory is a valuable theoretical framework for understanding the benefits and functional mentoring for both the mentor and the protégé. This perspective also aids our understanding about why either a potential mentor, or student, or both decide not to enter into the exchange (Homans, 2005; Blau, 2005).
Common Barriers to Functional Mentoring
There are common and unique issues that relate to a faculty member’s willingness to mentor undergraduate students. These issues are common across disciplines given the dearth of minority faculty in the academy, though there are different dynamics within each discipline. For example, if a Black student wants to focus on black literature in an English department without a Black literature specialist, he will suffer for a lack of content mentorship. Black students in the natural sciences, while there may not be racially specific content areas, still have to overcome issues related to process mentorship due to lack of minority faculty.
In general, faculty do not always have the competencies nor training required to effectively mentor any student (Johnson & Huwe, 2002). This lack of mentoring competence may become exacerbated when considering the opportunity of mentoring across racial lines. In addition, faculty members are rarely evaluated in regards to the quality of mentoring provided to students (Ellis, 2005; Girves, Zepeda, & Gwathmey, 2005). That is, undergraduate students do not provide evaluation data (in contrast to undergraduate course evaluation data) to which their major professors provide the psychosocial and instrumental functions of mentoring, nor are they evaluated as to whether mentoring is provided in a way that is culturally relevant and affirming.
Mentoring Among Minority Groups
The benifits of mentoring and its related characteristics are universal. However, the necessary qualities for the benefits of mentoring minority undergraduate students may indeed be unique. History tells that minority undergraduate students are excluded from institutions of higher education. Their unique cultural perspectives demand that more attention must be paid to the qualities needed to effectively mentor the excluded group.
Good mentors are knowledgeable and sensitive to the issues their students face. To mentor minority undergraduate student protégés, mentor knowledge should be expanded to include the day-to-day experiences of being a racial minority on their campus as well as enhance his multicultural competence (Chrobot-Mason & Ruderman, 2004). Mentors of the minority students could be more effective if they have experience within diverse contexts and relationships. Feedback is an important mentee benefit of mentoring, yet it may be one outcome that many mentors are hesitant to provide. Mentoring relationships with minority students could be hindered by the combination of faculty members’ lack of knowledge about the educational and non-academic experiences and realities of under-represented groups and their lack of experience in diverse contexts.
Tinto identified several factors which contributed to the attrition of students of colour in higher education institutions (Scott & Homant, 2007, p. 62). They are usually having many disadvantages socially, economically, financially and educationally. The ages of these students are also higher and special support needs to be given them.
The deficiencies listed reflect the challenges faced by minority undergraduate students who have mentors. Yet many minority undergraduate students also report that they lack faculty mentors. Students frequently complain that they lack mentoring and often have to make their own way through their undergraduate programs without an advocate or support system (Austin, 2002). A survey showed that one third of Black undergraduate students reported having no help with their development from faculty or other university staff or officials (Smith & Davidson, 2005). A study of the role of race and gender in the training experiences of Black students revealed that for the most part Black students were more dissatisfied in their relationships with their advisors compared to White students and were less likely to have a faculty member in their own department that they considered a true mentor (Ellis, 2000). In fact, the African- American students found alternative sources of support for finishing their degrees by establishing mentoring relationships with mentors outside of their home departments or outside of their institutions. Black students have formed committees with mentors outside college to secure help to locate relevant literature, develop their writing skills, and identify opportunities for presenting their work and for funding. These “outsiders” performed all of the tasks that one would expect of an undergraduate faculty member within the students’ home department (Ellis, 2000). When minorities are mentored by those in their own department or institution, their experience is frequently qualitatively different as compared to the experience of their White peers (McGuire, 2007). Black mentees are provided psychosocial support from their mentors but lack access to career guidance, direction, and advocacy.
Instead, faculty-student relationships are evaluated with regard to the potential products of those relationships, such as the number of publications, presentations, and grants awarded to student protégés. The products of excellence are not always the result of functional mentoring and happen even when mentors are inattentive to students’ psychosocial and instrumental needs.
Being productive is certainly one very important aspect of supporting undergraduate student development but mentoring reinforces their competence and legitimacy as emerging scholars. The value of increasing diversity in the disciplines is that new scholars can challenge and push their disciplines forward in new and exciting ways (Thomas, Mack, Williams, & Perkins , 2007).
Aiding in students’ career decisions, providing students with access to professional networks and visibility, keeping students informed and knowledgeable about what is needed to finish their degrees and landing a position of the student’s choice are aspects of the relationship which are undervalued and remain invisible. Even less apparent is how these relationships support an institution’s goals and values related to diversity.
Faculty must strike the difficult balance between strong advocacy and personal support for protégés while safeguarding the public from incompetent professionals (Biaggio, Paget, & Chenoweth, 2006). They must be able to develop their protégés in a manner that will produce a contributing member to the profession and the community as a whole. Strong supervision and restraints in the early stages so as not to expose the public to a novice must be followed up by less restraints as the protégé develops to become more skilled in the particular profession. Since many relationships become quite personal, faculty mentors need to balance what protégés share as personal information and what is deemed professional information. Although laws in many states protect therapist–patient communication, professor–student communication is not. Protégés often expect such communication to be confidential. Given this predicament, a functional mentoring relationship must have some sort of discussion on confidentiality and discuss it clearly with protégés early in the relationship.
Consequences of Negative Mentoring Experiences
With all the importance that is given to the effectiveness of a positive mentoring experience, there are many negative mentoring experiences that affect both students and mentors. Students without good mentors are frequently dissatisfied with their departments and their training and may rush through their training due to the level of negative encounters they experience (Ellis, 2000). Students without effective mentors who choose academia, as their profession, may fail to develop effective mentoring skills themselves. Lacking mentor role models may impede the ability of students to identify and enact effective behaviors to engage in the mentoring of their own future students due to the adoption of a “survivalist” mentality. These students are less likely to consider an academic career themselves (Ellis, 2000). This issue may be especially important to understand with regard to how it influences the future of the disciplines.
Negative mentoring experiences may be termed as dysfunctional mentoring. Dysfunctional mentoring relationships occur when the mentor’s or protégé’s characteristics or manner of interacting limit his ability to produce an effective mentoring relationship. Perhaps these characteristics and demeanors interfere with the ability of the mentor to provide effective mentoring or interfere with the protégé’s ability to be mentored (Eby, Mcmanus, Simon, & Russell, 2000).Dysfunctional mentoring relationships can manifest in many ways. The lack of opportunity for the mentee may occur when the mentor is a junior faculty who may not have the ability to provide the necessary outlets for the protégé to maximize exposure in the particular field of interest. The mentee will not be in position to be successful in his endeavours. The lack of effective communication is another possibility.Miscommunication becomes more evident and causes conflict. Sufficient or dishonest communication prevents a true mentoring relationship from developing. Honest communication will only exist if the mentor keeps interactions confidential between the two. Protégés who have a positive relationship with their mentors will tend to provide confidential information to their mentor as the relationship develops.
Lack of commitment between both the mentor and the protégé leads to another dysfunctional mentoring.Mentors have to accurately gauge how much time and effort they are willing to expend working with protégés. The inability of a mentor to commit the appropriate time to develop a protégé produces a a negative experience for all. With that in mind, protégés must also allot an appropriate amount of time to working with their mentors in order to receive the proper development over the course of their undergraduate program. The lack of commitment could also interfere with the protégé’s area of interest in research. Some minority students choose to pursue research endeavors that come out of their unique minority experiences. Yet, regardless of race and ethnicity, not all faculty are comfortable supporting diversity research, especially by students of color. Some faculty may not believe that issues related to prejudice, racism and oppression are scholarly or scientific or even relevant (Ogden, Thompson, Russell, & Simons, 2003). Others may view these issues as socially important but may want to protect minority undergraduate students from the negative judgments of future colleagues who may not consider these issues as important.
Both types of faculty mentors may strongly encourage students to avoid diversity research and instead only support students to pursue more “mainstream” research that will help to prove their credibility to their colleagues and peers resulting in colonialism in the academy. These recommendations also appear to place limits on the academic freedom that is usually afforded to White and/or male faculty who may be more free to pursue research directions of their choosing. This can cause a dysfunctional mentoring experience for the protégé who does not feel supported in the work he wishes to pursue. This mindset also stifles the development of academic fields to identify and address the unique realities and experiences of ignored populations (Ogden et al., 2003).
In order to enhance the access to mentoring for minority students and the quality of mentoring those students receive, multiple approaches must be pursued that address students’ openness to diverse mentoring, faculty preparedness and willingness to mentor across differences, and institutions’ readiness for diversity (Ogden, et al., 2003).
Mentoring relationships are often discussed as interpersonal relationships between a single mentor and his protégé. Individuals do not depend solely on a single mentor but rather gain developmental support through relationship constellations that include peers and family, as well as supervisors and managers (Kram, 2006). Formal mentoring networks that organizations such as colleges can provide to student protégés are significant in the relationship. By offering access to these structured networks, protégés receive the message early in their undergraduate student development that gaining support and information from multiple individuals is acceptable and even expected.
Mentoring Among Minority Populations
One barrier to effective mentoring relationships between mentors and undergraduate students is the implicit belief that students of color can only be mentored by faculty of color. Students of color can be functionally mentored by faculty who are not racially marginalized. Institutional cultures must support cross racial relationships, especially between faculty and students. “The extent to which all faculty, rather than just faculty of color are committed to the task of recruiting and nurturing talented students of color is an indication of an institution’s commitment to equality for students of color” (Epps, 2007, p. 25). It should be unacceptable for White faculty to relegate the mentoring of students of color solely to faculty of color. There are simply not enough faculty of color on most college campuses for this practice to be an effective strategy for the development of minority students. The support of racial group mentoring relationships between students and faculty indicates that the climate for diversity within the department (or the institution) is weak and marginalizing for ethnic minority group members. Another reason why White faculty may choose not to mentor students of color is that they see mentoring as a venue through which they can reproduce a professional that is similar to themselves (Epps, 2007).
This would disadvantage any student of color from potentially benefiting from a functional mentoring relationship with a White faculty member or a faculty member of a non-marginalized group. Minority students too may resist relationships with White faculty who they perceive as promoting their assimilation (rather than integration) and for fear of being groomed or cloned in a way that would force them to give up their unique cultural identities (Girves et al, 2005). Minority students, like all students, need and desire faculty with whom they can seek academic, career, and professional advice. Often students seek mentors with whom they share some type of commonality. For under-represented groups, these decisions often come down to race, gender, or culture.
White faculty members have unique barriers to mentoring minority students that are rarely discussed. The lack of diversity within many academic disciplines, especially within the sciences, may contribute to White faculty members’ discomfort and intergroup anxiety regarding establishing a close, developmental relationship with a minority student (Stephan & Stephan, 2005). Racism both subtle and overt also may interfere with one’s ability to mentor minority students. Organizational literature suggests that White supervisors are uncomfortable delivering negative feedback to their Black subordinates out of fear that these supervisors will be perceived as racist (Cox, 2005).
White faculty members may be unwilling or ineffective mentors for minority students if they lack multicultural competence (Chrobot-Mason & Ruderman, 2004). Multicultural competence is defined as, “proficiency in diagnosing diversity issues and resolving diversity-related conflicts and organizational problems by reading a mutually satisfying solution for all parties involved” (Charbot, Mason & Ruderman, 2004, p. 114). These authors suggest that building multicultural competence rests upon an increase in the knowledge of cultural differences, self-awareness, and four general skills which include, conflict management, interpersonal communication, feedback seeking, and role modeling. The increasing diversity of students make the development of multicultural competence critical for any professional’s own performance and effectiveness.
Related to multicultural competence is the issue of the identity development of White faculty. White faculty who have not yet explored their own racial identity and who are oblivious to the privilege afforded them due to their race, are unlikely to have developed the competencies needed to functionally mentor minority students (Helms, 2005). These faculty members may not be interested in the professional development of these students. Severe and negative consequences for the protégé and for this relationship exist under the circumstances (Chrobot-Mason & Thomas, 2002). A relationship with a mentor who is undeveloped in racial identity may be frustrating since the mentor is not able to comfortably and confidently discuss issues involving race that may actually be a hinderance to a protégés development or access to resources. They are likely to feel dissatisfied, disengaged, and they may subsequently end the relationship. The same is true in a regressive mentoring relationship (Helms, 2005).
Mentoring barriers still exist when both the students and faculty share an ethnic minority status. Minority mentoring does not automatically engage in functional mentoring despite similarities to their protégés. The lack of minority faculty places minority students at a disadvantage in regards to gaining mentors who resemble them in regards to race and culture. Although the doors of most institutions of higher education have been open to ethnic minorities for at least 40 years, minority faculty are sorely under-represented on many college campuses. This is especially true at the level of undergraduate education. A recent report from the American Council of Education suggests that like female faculty, minority faculty are often found at the lowest levels of our educational institutions (Stockwell, 2001). They are instructors, part-time faculty or not attained tenure status yet. These are the same faculty who are overloaded with course responsibilities, which limits their ability and time to be effective mentors. Minority faculty may have to deal with their own sense of cultural isolation in their workplace, face barriers to their own support and mentoring, and like White mentors, lack cross-cultural competence and identity development that inhibits their ability to provide functional mentoring to minority students.
In order to effectively mentor minority undergraduate students, faculty must be willing to reflect upon their own experiences as undergraduate students and be open to ways in which the experiences of minority undergraduate students today may differ. Strategies we suggest for faculty interested in enhancing their capacity to mentor this particular population include seeking professional development opportunities related to mentoring and to diversity, as well as to seek additional faculty role models and mentors for their minority students by expanding their own professional network (Ogden et al., 2003).
Faculty must learn that effective mentoring of all students includes providing instrumental support and advocacy (Enomoto, Gardiner, & Grogan, 2000). Too frequently mentors of ethnic minorities focus on providing emotional support that ultimately has the potential to negatively patronize the protégé and overprotect these individuals (Enomoto et al, 2000). New faculty may be assisted by programs including training on the stages of mentoring relationships, developing mentoring contracts, familiarising with the responsibilities involved in mentoring and understanding the benefits and costs of mentoring for both protégés and mentors themselves (Johnson & Huwe, 2002).Likewise, faculty must also develop multicultural competence and receive training specifically related to conflict management, interpersonal communication, feedback seeking, and delivery and role modeling (Chrobot-Mason & Ruderman, 2004). Multicultural competence can also be increased through providing faculty with opportunities to develop cross-cultural knowledge as well as opportunities for self-reflection and awareness.
Undergraduate students must be active participants in their education. Similar to faculty strategies to effective mentoring, there are several strategies that students can employ to receiving effective mentoring throughout their undergraduate training. Friendshiphas been defined as “the relationship bond formed between two or more students that encourages personal sharing and the desire to spend time together (Corwin, 2005). Four strategies are available. The first recommendation for undergraduate students of color is to be proactive for getting the mentoring they desire, need, and deserve (Robinson, 2007). At-risk post secondary students were found to have improved greatly when these vulnerable students were mentored by other students (Pagan, 2003, as cited in Nora & Crisp, 2007, p. 340). The Grade Point Averages and the retention rates were significantly higher.
The second strategy is to look for like-minded students of the same minority but studying in a higher class. In the cases where there may be more than one minority undergraduate student in the program, it would be beneficial for the students to pair with each other and discuss issues they face or receive advice from each other on methods to receiving effective mentoring. (Ogden et al., 2003) More advanced students in a undergraduate program could provide key insights from their experience to junior students who are first embarking on their undergraduate experience.
A third strategy is for the students going beyond just seeking out information on their program and department and networking, minority undergraduate students must become involved at their universities (Ogden et al., 2003; Congos & Stout, 2003) The fourth recommendation for minority undergraduate students is to seek out multiple mentors. Although having multiple mentors provides one with additional opportunities for support, advice, advocacy, and an expanded network, moving back and forth between these two groups can also promote bi-cultural stress that depletes protégés of the energy, time, and focus needed to follow-up on the opportunities that mentroing may provide (Thomas & Gabarro, 2007).
Research of literature concludes that genuine interest, competency, commitment to the relationship, caring, altruism, and willingness to support constitute the characteristics of successful mentors. Meaningful contact within the relationship between the mentor and mentee is vital to develop the academic and social integration of the student into the college community. Same-race mentoring appears to produce a better outcome by some studies. Cross race mentoring has differing outcomes in different studies.
The research methodology is detailed in the next chapter. The difference in persistence rates before and after the program would be compared with reference to the variables of age, gender, race and GPA as answer to research Question 1. The value-added or net gains concept would be used to determine the amswer to research Question 2. The literature on minority populations would provide the answer to research Question 3. The persistence difference between persistors and non persistors would be determined by the variables of contact, involvement and matching of mentors and mentees.
Student retention over time and the impact of the mentoring program on students’ academic performance after the stabilization of the mentoring program is being studied. A time series design is being employed for data collection and analysis. The institutional performance on student retention would be assessed by the collection of appropriate historical data. Secondary data analysis would be used for comparing program goals and objectives with actual achievement to find out if there is a gap between the two. A gap would reveal if the institution met or missed or exceeded its goals. The third step would be to collect data from students for understanding the effectiveness of the mentoring program. Specific questions with structured responses as indicated in the Appendix C would be used for the study of the first year students of Fall 2009. The data would be presented in tabular form and analyzed using descriptive and bivariate statistics.
Framework for Evaluation
Evaluation research has been defined as research and analysis covering the conceptualization and design of interventions, the monitoring of program interventions and the assessment of program utility (Rossi & Freeman, 1993). This study thereby would be evaluating the institutional performance before and after the program intervention, the program goals and objectives and the relation of participation to student outcomes (retention indicated by continuous enrolment).
Impact evaluations or outcomes and effectiveness indicate program results and effects. These are significant in making major decisions about continuation of program, expansion, reduction and funding. This research is aimed at assessment of goals and program utility. The Decision making evaluation model would be used to discover if the stated program goals and objectives were reached (Madaus, Scriven & Stufflebeam, 1993). Special populations would be assessed with this model and therefore is suited to this study. Significant differences between persistors and non persistors for variables like contact and extracurricular activity and for micropopulations of race, gender and age would be determined (Hossler, 1991).
The design used for this study is the Time series design which is an extension of the Succession design, using the historical data from the institution and a questionnaire to compare the differences between the persistence rates of cohort groups (Sedlack & Stanley, 1992). This design was opted for as it could be used for testing the impact of exposures and it gives space for making multiple measurements of a single group. It allows many measurements to be taken before and after the exposure to the program. The number of measurements should be the same before and after the program. Similarly the intervals between the measurements should be equal unless the model indicates otherwise (Sedlack & Stanley, 1992).
The Time Series design permits several measurements and strengthens the researcher’s confidence in the results. The weakness of the succession design is that a control is not used. This threatens internal validity. However this can be compensated by using the multiple measurements taken before the mentoring program and noting the change in the dependent variables after the program has been instituted, thereby strengthening the internal validity. Inclusion data from the cohort groups make comparisons more feasible.
Figure 2 Research Design Model
|Data collected for||Mentoring program||Survey instrument||Retention rates|
The total number of first year undergraduate students of Fall 2009 would be given the survey instrument. The return rate would be calculated.
Persistence rates for the years of 1999-2007 would be collected from the PGCC. Institutional performance on retention rates would be assessed.
Program Goals and Objectives
As a full impact study, the programs’ goals and objectives as seen in Appendix A and the Mentoring Report in Appendix B helped gauge the goal attainment. The actual program results would be compared with the defined goals. The comparisons help to determine if goals were missed, met or exceeded.
A questionnaire is being distributed to all the first year students of Fall, 2009. The students would be asked to respond to the 49 item questionnaire. The survey has been designed with relevance to the variables noted in literature. The instrument designed has been checked by the A.L.A.N.A. members. The survey has been arranged in three sections. The first section covers background information including the demography, student’s primary reason for joining college, current enrolment status, the number of hours the student is currently employed, classification of residence, overall high school and college Grade Point Average and extracurricular activities.
The second section, Mentoring/Advising Information, provide information which are found in the Program’s evaluation goals. Information on how the student’s needs are being met, the type of mentor, the frequency of contact, whether the number of meetings are sufficient for the student’s needs, how much time would be spent with the mentor and if the student felt this were sufficient for him. The third section, Perceptions of Mentor/Advisor items, was adapted from the Advisor Evaluation Survey which was designed and tested by the Appalachian State University. The questions measure five variables which are the services provided, sharing educational information, strength of personal relations with the mentee, satisfying academic expectations and majors at PGCC. The items in the sections are : the mentor recognizes me on campus, shows concern about my welfare and informs me about extracurricular activities. This instrument closely pictures the goals and mentor training objectives of PGCC. Most of the students would return the questionnaire completed. However to improve the return rate, a cover letter (seen in Appendix D) and an OMR answer sheet and a self- addressed envelope would be posted to the students who do not return the questionnaire. A follow-up postcard would be mailed to the non responders. Urgent return of the questionnaires would be solicited.
Persistent demographic data would be collected from the Institute of Research of PGCC. Trends on institutional performance on retention of students would be obtained by secondary data analysis. Frequencies and non parametric statistics would be performed on the data to determine significant differences among micropopulations and retention rates.
Goals and Objectives
Attainment of the goals and objectives of the PGCC’s A.L.A.N.A. Experience would be analyzed from the Annual Mentoring Report (See Appendix A).
The answer sheets would be scanned into the mainframe computer by the personnel in the Information systems department. Using the Statistical Package for Social sciences (SPSS), the statistical tools employed for data analysis would be frequencies (number and percentages), descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviations and non parametric tests of significance, chi square). The analysis is expected to move in a logical fashion from simple examination of the data to more complex examinations. Important patterns would be described in the analysis. Frequencies and descriptive statistics would be used to present bivariate data demographic and related variables. Chi square analysis would be used to determine the difference between the students who persisted and those who did not. Most researchers use the 0.05 levels of significance or the 95% confidence level to compare with the actual level of significance. So it would be used here too. Statistical results would be considered significant if the p value was equal to or less than 0.05.
The following research questions would be analyzed using the specific statistical analysis and items which determine the relationship between variables.
- Is there a difference in persistence rates before program implementation and after ?
- Is there a difference in the persistence rates for cohorts after implementation of the program when compared to the years before program.?
Persistence data from the cohorts of earlier years would be studied using the chi square statistic.
- By comparing 1994 to the previous years (1986-93) what differences could be found in age, race and gender?
Race and persistence would be analyzed using bivariate data. Chi square analysis would be performed on persistence rates and the results would be compared to findings on the persistence rates by race.
- Did the PGCC program meet its goals and objectives?
- Was the A.L.A.N.A. Experience mentoring program useful in increasing the retention rates in PGCC?
- Was there any significant difference between number of contacts made with mentors by persistors and non persistors who were participants in the program due to mentoring in the Fall of 2009?
Chi square analysis would be computed on mentor contact and persistence to determine the difference.
- Is there a significant difference due to University involvement for the persistors and non persistors who were program participants?
Chi square analysis would be computed on involvement in extracurricular activities and persistence to determine the difference.
- Is there a significant difference between the races of participants and the mentors?
Chi square analysis would be performed on ethnic background of mentor and mentee to see if there was a difference.
- Is there a significant difference between the genders of participants and the mentors?
Males would be coded 1 and females 2. Chi square analysis would be computed for gender (item 22) to determine if there was a difference in the gender of the mentor and the mentee.
This chapter has presented the Research methodology to be used in this study.
The design, procedures, instruments, and the research questions with the statistical analysis to be used have been elaborated. Results of the data analysis would be discussed in the next chapter.
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