Search Google Appliance

Mentoring Undergraduates

Find out more about our work on mentoring to promote access, retention and success for undergraduates

Focus On: Peer Mentoring for College Students to Ensure College Success 

Successful students can be powerful supports when they become mentors for their peers. They have first-hand experience overcoming unique challenges faced by other students-- whether they be veterans, first-generation students, students from underrepresented groups, young adults who have transitioned from foster care, the list goes on. An added benefit for collegiate peer mentoring programs is that for every mentoring match, two students benefit: both the mentor and mentee. Despite the prevalence of peer mentoring programs across the U.S. there is little research to guide program design and practice, and a lack of high quality training materials to prepare peer mentors. CIMR researchers are:

  • Developing and researching foundational training on peer mentoring for mentors and program coordinators (Students Mentoring Students Project, Principal Investigator, Peter Collier)
  • Researching the PSU University Studies Peer Mentoring Program, an innovative program matching every incoming freshman and sophomore with an undergraduate or graduate student peer mentor (Principal Investigators, Yves Labissiere & Dana Lundell)
  • Developing and researching peer mentoring models for supporting undergraduates through the transition from 2-year to 4-year universities (Principal Investigator, Yves Labissiere)
  • Researching and developing interventions utilizing peer mentoring in conjunction with other components to support youth in foster care and with mental health diagnoses as they transition into college (Principal Investigators, Sarah Geenen & Laurie Powers)
Highlighted Peer Mentoring Project:
Students Mentoring Students Curriculum

Highlighted Peer Mentoring Program:
University Studies Peer Mentoring Program

The Students Mentoring Students Course Curriculum is being developed, under the leadership of Dr. Peter Collier, to provide foundational training for peer mentors and peer mentoring program coordinators. An interdisciplinary team of faculty has surveyed peer mentoring programs regarding training needs and priorities. Next, a one-week intersession course addressing major survey themes and featuring multiple faculty experts was developed and piloted with mentors and mentoring program coordinators from multiple programs and three Oregon campuses. Focus groups were held for mentors and program coordinators and the findings are being used to revise the course curriculum and develop best practice models for mentor training and program design. Students Mentoring Students is a joint project of CIMR and the Oregon Campus Compact Retention Project, undertaken with support from the PSU Cradle to Career Initiative. Download information about Students Mentoring Students

Every incoming PSU freshman and sophomore receives peer mentoring for academic support as part of the general education program at PSU through the University Studies Peer Mentoring Program. The mentor program is a community of 100 upper-division undergraduate and graduate mentors trained to provide leadership and academic support for student success. Mentor Sessions are designed to help students gain experience doing high quality academic work in small groups. Peer Mentors work directly with faculty to support students by role modeling and developing the skills needed to succeed at the university. Mentors become a community of scholars who support each other’s academic success. They also participate in professional development and leadership activities that make them some of the most highly qualified and well-prepared graduates from PSU. CIMR Researchers Yves Labissiere, Dana Lundell, Alma Trinidad and Jacob Sherman are researching the University Studies model and the nature of peer mentoring relationships. Learn more about the University Studies intensive peer mentor training model                                                                


CIMR Researchers Focusing on Mentoring for College Students

Peter Collier, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, PSU
Peter Collier studies mentoring in the context of the sociology of higher education, identity development, and service-learning. His current projects include research on mentoring first-generation college students to improve student performance and persistence.

Carlos Crespo, Ph.D., Ph.D., Professor and Director of School of Community Health, PSU
Carlos Crespo directs the NIH-funded Portland Bridges to Baccalaureate Program, in which experienced research scientists mentor underrepresented students of color transferring from community college to PSU to pursue careers in biomedical and behavioral sciences.

Sarah Geenen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Regional Research Institute on Human Services, PSU
Sarah Geenen is the director of two federally funded studies examining the impact of one-on-one coaching/mentoring to enhance self-determination and improve the education and post-school outcomes of foster youth with disabilities.

Yves Labissiere, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University Studies & School of Public Health - Urban and Community Affairs, PSU
Yves Labissiere examines "peerness" as it relates to academic mentoring for undergraduate students.

Dana Lundell, Ph.D., Director of Mentor Programs, University Studies, PSU
Dana Lundell’s current work focuses on leadership and development for academic mentors in higher education with special attention to underrepresented students, multicultural populations and inclusive learning environments.

Laurie Powers, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research, School of Social Work, and Director, Regional Research Institute on Human Services, PSU
Laurie Powers’ research interests include the promotion of self-determination by individuals with diverse abilities, positive youth development and transition to adulthood. She studies how one-on-one coaching and mentoring can be used to enhance self-determination and improve the education and post-school outcomes of people with disabilities.

Jo-Ann Sowers, Ph.D., Research Professor, Regional Research Institute on Human Services
Jo-Ann Sowers conducts research on the impact of career-focused mentoring and E-Mentoring on the aspirations of youth and young adults with disabilities who are interested in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Alma Trinidad, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University Studies and Child & Family Studies
Alma Trinidad has investigated the role of mentors and adult allies in supporting youth working toward social justice and environmental sustainability. She also studies tiered mentoring processes (instructor-mentor-student) in Freshman Inquiry undergraduate courses.

Bryant York, Ph.D., Professor of Computer Science
Bryant York works to expand the participation of traditionally underrepresented populations in academic and professional careers in science, engineering, and technology through several national mentoring programs for students and early career professionals, such as the Student & Technology in Academia, Research & Service Alliance, the Alliance for the Advancement of African-American Researchers in Computing, and the Computer Research Association's Coalition to Diversify Computing.

Miranda Cunningham, Ph.D. Student, School of Social Work
Miranda Cunningham is a doctoral student in Social Work whose area of interest is natural mentoring relationships in the lives of transition-aged foster youth.

Mandy Elder, Child and Family Studies, School of Social Work
Mandy Elder is the recipient of the CIMR Undergraduate Research Scholarship. She is a student in Social Work with research focusing on the natural mentoring relationships that exist among first-generation female college students in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Jessica Schmidt, Ph.D student, School of Social Work
Jessida Schmidt works on an NSF-funded study testing the effects of a mentoring program designed to encourage STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) careers among students with disabilities.

Jacob Sherman, M.A. Student, Graduate School of Education
Jacob Sherman is a graduate student in the Leadership for Sustainability Education program whose interests include mentoring in higher education, leadership development, and sustainability education.