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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 are few resources bridging research and practice, and helping to inform program implementation.

To address this need, we are excited to report that CIMR Researcher Dr. Peter Collier has published a new resource on peer mentoring aimed at practitioners with information on everything from program design, delivery, evaluation to effective training:

Developing Effective Student Peer Mentoring Programs: A Practioner's Guide to Program Design, Delivery, Evaluation and Training, 2015, Stylus Publishing

The book was designed for program coordinators, student affairs professionals and others developing new peer mentoring programs or refining existing programs. In addition to the practical, hands-on information that can be immediately put into practice, it also provides a framework on how peer mentoring relates to persistence models, degree completion, and student adjustment issues.  

Highlighted Peer Mentoring Program: University Studies Peer Mentoring Program

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 and Alma Trinidad  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

CIMR researchers are:

  • Developing and researching foundational training on peer mentoring for mentors and program coordinators (Principal Investigator, Peter Collier)
  • Examining research, faculty and peer mentoring of undergraduates pursuing biomedical research careers as part of the NIH BUILD Initiative (Investigators Crespo, Keller, Morris)
  • 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)
  • 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)


Carlos Crespo, Ph.D., Ph.D., Professor and Director of School of Community Health, PSU
Carlos Crespo is the Principal Investigator of the NIH-funded BUILD EXITO initiative and the Portland Bridges to Baccaulaureate Program ccrespo@pdx.edu 

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. geenens@pdx.edu

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. labissy@pdx.edu

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. dlundell@pdx.edu

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. powersl@pdx.edu

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. sowersj@pdx.edu

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. atrinidad@pdx.edu

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. york@cecs.pdx.edu

Peter Collier, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus 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.

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. miranda.cunningham@pdx.edu

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. mandy_marie07@hotmail.com

Jessica Schmidt, Ph.D, 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.