A case for peer-to-peer mentoring in technical college education
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Technical education in Georgia provides training opportunities across many disciplines to promote economic growth. Completion and retention rates in technical education are typically lower when compared to traditional four-year universities. This action research study investigated the impact peer-to-peer mentoring had on students’ engagement, academic confidence, and satisfaction with their technical college, items suggested by exiting research to affect student persistence. A conceptual peer-to-peer mentoring model was created using popular persistence theories and tested over the course of one semester. Participants followed a specific mentoring curriculum designed to emphasize student engagement, academic confidence, and institutional satisfaction. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected to measure the effects of having a peer mentor and answer the research questions. Participant narrative data was collected throughout the course of the study and various changes were incorporated after analysis of data in an effort to improve the mentoring experience. Participant experiences’ were provided in narratives to provide the reader insight into the mentoring experience. Findings from the research suggest the presence of a peer mentor had a positive effect on participants’ engagement and academic confidence, but little impact on institutional satisfaction. While all participants reported increases in variables measured, females and minority students reported the greatest benefit from having a mentor over the course of the semester. Findings from the research illustrate the value of a peer mentor and add to the limited literature regarding technical college students. Additionally, the conceptual model tested revealed several limitations which led to the creation of a revised conceptual model for future testing.