Date of Conferral







James P. Keen


Differences in student persistence remain between at-risk students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and those less challenged in college. There is a need to understand the perceptions of faculty and other professionals whose primary role does not focus on mentoring but who serve as mentors to low income and minority students, in order to understand how they construct their experiences as mentors as well as what promotes and impedes their success with the students they mentor. This basic qualitative study addressed the reflections of such mentors who have mentored at-risk students for at least two years at a public university that serves a broad population, with the aim of increasing understanding of such faculty and professional staff’s perceptions regarding mentoring as well as their mentoring practices. Astin’s theory of student involvement, Tinto’s theory of student departure, Goleman’s work on emotional and social intelligence, and Daloz’s approach to mentoring contributed to a conceptual framework that informed the semistructured interviews with eleven mentors obtained via purposeful sampling. Data were hand coded and analyzed using inductive and comparative analysis of the emergent themes. Findings illuminated the interviewees’ perceived reality of mentoring, effective practices, reasons for mentoring, and their perceptions of obstacles to student persistence. Additional findings related to interviewees’ self-reflections as practitioners of mentoring: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. The findings may contribute to positive social change if considered by current and potential mentors, administrators, and others seeking to improve mentoring practices and academic persistence of low income, at-risk students.

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