Date of Conferral







Patricia Loun


With the number of underprepared, at-risk students entering college, many institutions have developed initiatives to help support student success. Previous research has shown that peer mentoring has been used to support student success, but there is limited research on the mentoring experience from the peer mentors’ perspective. The purpose of the study was to explore the experiences and perceptions of peer mentors who mentor at-risk college students at a 4-year institution. Using a phenomenological design, 8 peer mentors were interviewed. This study was built on Lave and Wegner’s theory of situated learning and Zachary’s 4-phase mentoring model to help explain the meaning and value that the participants attributed to their experiences. Moustakas’s 7 step data analysis method was used. The results from this study suggested 5 themes that represent the peer mentors’ experiences: (a) being a role model, (b) learning experiences for the peer mentors, (c) establishing accountability, (d) effective mentor/mentee communication and relationship, and (e) clarifying the role as a mentee. The participants believed they strengthened their leadership and communication skills as a result of their mentoring experience; they also placed a strong emphasis on the challenges that occur during the mentoring relationship. The participants gained an understanding of how the skills they developed would be used in their academics and future professional careers. The positive social change implications for this study included: (a) aiding in the training of future peer mentors; (b) the improvement of future peer mentor programs; (c) improved support for at-risk students; and (d) gaining new insights for other researchers searching to promote successful mentorship programs for at-risk students.

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