FukudaE_PhDMentor_Poster - Scholars

Supporting Doctoral Students through Peer Mentoring
Erin Fukuda
March 13, 2012, EDLD 655, University of Oregon
Site Improvement Goal
Ph.D. Student Peer Mentoring Plan
Goal: Improve program experience and time-to-degree (TTD)
rates for Ph.D. students within an education department.
P1 Department Approval: meet with the Department Head to discuss
feasibility of implementing a department wide Ph.D. peer mentor system.
P2 Ph.D. Student Support: Create a survey for current Ph.D. students
to indicate interest in volunteering to be a mentor and provide additional
details such as areas of research interest and year in program.
P3 Compile List of Mentor Volunteers: Consolidate survey data for
presentation to the Department Head
P4 Determine Mentor Processes and Practices: Share survey data
with Department Head and determine: 1) processes for matching
mentors with incoming Ph.D. students, 2) formality of system, and 3)
preferences for the role of mentors
P4 Mentor Matching: Meet with Department Head once the list of
accepted new Ph.D. students has been created. Match new students
with Ph.D. mentors. Pairing will be guided by similarity in interests, but
differences in faculty advisor to provide new student with a broader idea
of the role of advisors and differences that can exist in advising
P5 Communication of Peer Mentor Program: 1) Ensure that applicable
department materials, including acceptance letters address mentor
program, 2) Communicate with mentor volunteers regarding pairing and
responsibilities, including initiating contact with new student if paired.
Over the last several years Ph. D. students have shared a
range of frustrations about their experience within a department in
the field of education. The problems expressed include
unpredictable course offerings, required courses that are not
offered, courses consistently scheduled at conflicting times, initial
misrepresentation to some students about availability of financial
support, varied understanding of departmental policy by
faculty/staff, departmental practices that fail to foster and
sometimes inhibit peer communication/support, lack of
communication between faculty/staff and students about
departmental changes that affect students.
Out of a sample of 20 current
Ph.D. students, half have
reported that one or more of
these challenges has either
resulted in: actual extension
of TTD, plans to extend their
TTD, or serious intentions to
leave their program.
Median Ph.D. Time-to-Degree
Other AAU
Student Reported Departmental
Impact on Time-to-Degree
Extended TTD
No Impact
Thought of
Though average Ph.D. TTD
for the department is lower
than at comparable
universities and follows similar
trends, TTD has increased
since 2008.
Resource Impacts
R1 Evaluate Mentor Program: Develop and send out a survey to
mentors and mentees to gather information about strengths and areas of
improvement of the Ph.D. peer mentor program.
R2 Adjust Mentor Program: Use feedback from peer mentor
evaluation survey to guide changes to the program.
Impact on department or college resources will be minimal, since
the peer mentoring program is organized and predominately
implemented by student volunteers. However, some department
faculty and staff time will be required to facility student
organization of the program. The cost of time depends each
individuals salary or wage and is represented here in terms of
-Department Chair time: 3-6 hrs. per year
- Assist with initial planning/redesign
- Facilitate matching
-Department administrative assistant: 2 hrs. per year
- Any changes to department documents about the peer
mentoring program
- Email communications as needed
-Other departmental faculty: 2-3 hrs. per year
- Potential involvement in all Ph.D. gathering
Plan Timeline
Oct 2011
Nov. 2011
Dec. 2011
P3, P4
P5, P6
Jan. 2012
Feb. 2012
Option 1: Set a course schedule that includes all required classes
and minimizes course conflict
Option 2: Improve communication about policies and resources.
Option 3: Create a peer mentor program to facilitate
communication and support among Ph.D. students.
Golde (2005) reported six thematic reasons for doctoral
attrition including “poor fit of expectations between student and
department” and “mismatch between student and advisor”.
Another study found that faculty and students both perceived the
nature of program tasks and resources and how they are
arranged, as well as communication of expectations and
requirements to be strong and moderate influencers of TTD,
respectively (Wao, Dedrick, Ferron, 2011). Research suggests
that option 3 may help mitigate these TTD influencers. Formal
peer mentoring relationships can contribute to successful
socialization of new students, understanding norms and
organizational politics, and helping protégés cope with stress
(Allen, McManus, & Russell, 1999).
As a Ph.D. student, feasibility of student involvement must
be considered when determining a course of action. Option 1
seems less feasible than options 2 and 3. Additionally, fostering
support and dissemination of shared knowledge of departmental
policies, resources, and past course offerings through a formal
peer mentoring program may address some needs targeted by
options 1 and 2. For this reason, option 3, peer mentoring was
Mentoring Process
M1 Introduction: Each established mentor emails their mentee to
introduce him/herself, and begin communication to provide support,
advice, information as needed. This may include information about
program experience and expectations that may help the mentee decided
whether or not this program is a good fit.
M2 Ph.D. Mentor Face-to-Face: Set a date, coordinate an event to allow
new students who commit to the Ph.D. program a chance to meet their
peer mentor in person.
M3 All Ph.D. Gathering: Coordinated event for any current Ph.D.
student new or established to meet an expand social support networks.
M4 Development of Individual Mentor Relationships: Each mentor
continues to support and assist their mentee and in the process develops
an individualized relationship.
M2, M3
April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012
Aug 2012
Sept 2012
Oct 2012
Nov 2012
Dec 2012
Jan 2013
Outcome Projections
Proximal Projected Outcomes
As previously described, research suggests that formal peer
mentoring systems have the potential to help new students understand
the norms and politics of an organization. Many of the current students
who have had to extend their TTD or had serious thoughts attribute this
experience to lack of understanding departmental culture (e.g.
dissertation or course offering policies and procedures) or a
misalignment of expectations between the department and students (e.g.
misunderstanding of financial support that is available). Peer mentors
have spent time operating in and getting to know the culture and
expectations and can be a personal resource of information and support
for new students. The peer mentoring program has the potential to
produce proximal outcomes of better alignment between student and
department expectations, better understanding of departmental policies,
and a feeling of improved ability to manage the stress involved in a Ph.D.
program of study.
Feb 2013
Additional personal outcomes could include social networking,
decreased initial isolation, and improved leadership skills for volunteer
Distal Projected Outcomes
The proximal projected outcomes of the peer mentor program
may help facility improved distal outcomes of decreased TTD and
improved overall personal experience while progressing through the
program. By having easy access to departmental policies about
dissertation procedures or course offerings, via peer mentors, new
students may be better able to plan their trajectory through their
program, and be better able to avoid issues such as missed deadlines or
missing a required course because of lack of context around timing of
course offerings.
All, T.D., McManus, S. E., & Russell, J. E. A., (1999).
Newcomer socialization and stress: Formal peer
relationships as a source of support. Journal of
Vocational Behavior, 54, 453-470.
Golde, C.M., (2005). The role of the department and discipline
in doctoral student attrition: Lessons from four
departments. The Journal of Higher Education, 76(6),
Office of Institutional Research, University of Oregon, (2012).
[EDLD Time-to-Degree]. Unpublished data.
Wao, H.O., Dedrick, R. F., & Ferron, J.M., (2011). Quantitizing
text: Using theme frequency and theme intensity to
describe factors influencing time-to-doctorate. Qual
Quant, 45, 923-934.
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