Measuring and Exploring Factors Affecting Students’ Willingness to Engage in Peer Mentoring

Mar. 01, 2014

Source: International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2014, p. 141-157.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study investigated the influence of only two factors on students’ willingness to mentor: a personality-related factor (altruism) and a contextual factor (organizational culture)

The research used:
a.  a hybrid research methodology consisting of an online survey of 1600 students.
The participants were students of a bachelor of commerce (BCom) program of a North American university. Over 57 percent of the respondents were female.

b. a focus group discussion with 7 students from the same university.

Results and Discussion

The quantitative analysis shows that organizational culture and altruism significantly impact students’ willingness to mentor their peers.
Peer mentoring can help students prepare their transition from high school to university, guide them through university programs, and help them prepare their transition from university to workplace.
Critical factors to peer mentoring effectiveness include a good fit between mentors and mentees, a reasonable ratio of mentor to proteges, and an understanding of and a willingness to address each student’s specific needs.

The focus group showed that one of the main factors that would contribute to students' willingness to mentor is the involvement of companies as partners in a mentoring program.
Many students believe that giving opportunities in terms of jobs and internships to peer mentors would be a key success factor to a student peer mentoring program and a real source of motivation for peer mentors.

Five additional factors were highlighted by students as potential influences on student peer mentoring effectiveness:
1. A student peer mentoring program has to address students' specific needs.

2. Communication and awareness are important.

3. There have to be good fits between mentors and protégés.

4. A student peer mentoring program should be voluntary.

5. The ratio of protégé(s) to mentor should be as low as possible.

Practical implications

This research contributes to a better understanding of the factors affecting students’ willingness to mentor their peers.
The study suggests that universities do have a role to play in promoting students’ interest in peer mentoring programs through the development of a culture of support and mutual help.
Hence, educators should tailor their communication strategy with respect to peer mentoring in order to reinforce the benefits students gain from it and correct any misconceptions or false expectations students may have about it.

In particular, a mentoring program should be flexible enough to meet each student’s needs.
A very important step would be to identify the needs and expectations of every prospective protege and then look for the mentor who can adequately respond to them.
Close attention should be paid to finding a good fit between the mentor and the prote´ge´, not only in terms of the mentee’s needs, but also in terms of personality fit and time commitment.
Communication should also focus on the benefits of mentoring for participants without making participation mandatory.

Updated: Aug. 30, 2015