Dissertation. Western Michigan University, 2008, 188 pages.
This study was designed to determine how mentoring affects the peer mentor. Despite the proliferation of peer mentoring programs, little research has been conducted to consider how mentoring affects the peer mentor's attitudes, leadership ability, and academic accomplishments when engaging in a mentoring relationship. The focus of this study is on the at-risk peer mentors who are part of the federally funded Student Support Services (SSS) located on a midwestern university campus, and seeks to ascertain whether their grade point average, retention, graduation rates, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, and leadership abilities are changed by serving in a mentoring relationship. Since these attitudes and skills have been linked with student success, a study that examines factors that impact these variables is of importance to administrators of SSS, other developmental programs, and the students themselves. A mixed method longitudinal design was used to analyze both quantitative and qualitative data. The data were collected throughout the 1999-2006 academic years. The data set was organized to allow comparisons among five groups of students, which included the peer mentor group. Using SPSS software, frequencies, means, and percentages were calculated on each of the factors. To complete the model, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed. Qualitative data were gathered from structured interviews and a focus group reflecting on whether and to what degree the act of mentoring affected the mentors' attitude and leadership abilities. Results of this study showed that when the at-risk peer mentors were compared to the average student or students who are eligible for SSS but do not receive their services, the peer mentors' average graduation rate was higher at 78%. Average years-to-graduate rate of 4.48 years was lower, and their cumulative grade point average at 3.30 was higher than other comparative groups within the study. Qualitative data analysis revealed that mentors indicated positive changes in regards to leadership and attitudes more than 50% of the time. In summary, the research strongly indicates mentoring is a positive experience that does no harm, and the mentors develop character and have opportunities to help others.