CEL facilitates multi-institutional research on engaged learning topics. Participants from institutions around the world collaborate over three years, producing scholarship that shapes research and practice globally.
CEL is home to two book series. In addition, CEL research seminars and other initiatives have produced 100+ publications (to date).
CEL’s concise guides offer research-informed practices for engaged learning.
CEL’s concise guides offer practical strategies for studying engaged learning.
CEL brings together international leaders in higher education to develop, synthesize, and share rigorous research on central questions about student learning.
The CEL Scholar role and CEL Student Scholars program enable Elon faculty and students to deepen their understanding of and professional development in scholarly activity on engaged learning.
Akinla, Olawunmi, Pamela Hagan, and William Atiomo. 2018. "A Systematic Review of the Literature Describing the Outcomes of Near-Peer Mentoring Programs for First Year Medical Students." BMC Medical Education 18 (1): 98. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-018-1195-1.
The objective of this paper was to review literature about near-peer mentoring programs for first-year medical students. “A near-peer is one who is one or more years senior to another on the same level of education training, that is, learners providing pastoral support to other learners in contrast to faculty staff mentoring learners” (2) Across the five papers in the review, three outcomes were summarized: personal and professional development, transitioning and stress reduction. For personal and professional development, 72.5% mentees reported much improvement working on a team; 61.2% reported greater respect towards themselves and mentors; 58% said they were more accountable about schoolwork; and 100% said they improved their “professionalism” skills. For transitioning, some of the studies showed support that mentoring programs helped in the transition phase of medical school. For stress reduction, some studies showed near-peer mentoring programs helped build resilience and be less stressed.
Annotation by Eric Hall
Alcocer, Luis F., and Andres Martinez. 2018. "Mentoring Hispanic Students: A Literature Review." Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 17 (4): 393-401. https://doi.org/10.1177/1538192717705700.
This literature review reviews the topics of mentoring and peer mentoring in higher education. It then expands to the mentoring of Hispanic students. “As established by Zachary (2012), mentoring is a process of engagement, no one can mentor without connection, and the relationships is more successful when it is done collaboratively. Mentoring provides the mentee with a safe situation to explore new ideas with confidence” (398). The concept of empathy is briefly discussed, and this might be useful to think about related to training and development of mentoring programs. The importance of understanding culture and values of population was discussed.
Booker, Keonya, and Ernest Brevard Jr.. 2017. "Why Mentoring Matters: African-American Students and the Transition to College." The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal 19. https://doi.org/10.26209/mj1961245.
This was an empirical study of a mentoring program for first-year African-American students. The mentors in this study included students (32%), faculty members (28%) and staff members (40%). The overall findings were that the students was beneficial for their transition to college. The main topics discussed were academic concerns, personal concerns, and career guidance. Despite the overall program being successful, a majority of the mentees that were mentored by peers reported a less favorable experience. Students in these relationships reported issues of availability, community, and personality conflicts. Once again, the idea of mentor training was highlighted as important for the creation and success of these programs.
Annotation by Eric Hall
Collings, R., V. Swanson, and R. Watkins. 2014. "The Impact of Peer Mentoring on Levels of Student Wellbeing, Integration and Retention: A Controlled Comparative Evaluation of Residential Students in UK Higher Education." Higher Education 68 (6): 927-42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-014-9752-y.
This research took place at two matched universities in the UK from which 109 first year undergraduates were recruited. All participants took a series of questionnaires during the first week and 10 weeks into the semester. Peer mentoring happened at one of the institutions. Measures included: perceived stress, adaptation to university life, intention to leave (all time 2); and social support, negative affect and self-esteem (time points 1 and 2). “Peer mentored individuals showed higher levels of integration to university. Four times as many non-peer mentored students had seriously considered leaving university compared to peer mentored students. Integration partially mediated the relationship between mentoring and intention to stay at university. Moderating effects analyses indicate that mentoring may buffer the effect of the transition to University.” (928) Tinto’s theory of student retention was used to explain the results.
Colvin, Janet W., and Marinda Ashman. 2010. "Roles, Risks, and Benefits of Peer Mentoring Relationships in Higher Education." Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning 18 (2): 121-34. https://doi.org/10.1080/13611261003678879.
This article examined a “mentor leadership program under the premise of students helping students.” (122) Interviews were conducted of 40 participants which included current mentors (n = 12), new mentors (n = 8), instructors (n = 10) and students in class (n = 10). From the interviews, three themes emerged: 1) roles, 2) benefits and risks, and 3) power and resistance. For roles, five specific roles were identified: 1) connecting link; 2) peer leader; 3) learning coach; 4) student advocate; and 5) trusted friend. Three benefits were identified: 1) being able to support students; 2) reapplying concepts in their own lives; and 3) developing connections. There were some gender differences a swell with women seeing benefits in relationships and men in academics. Some of the risks and challenges of mentoring included: balancing mentor role with time and other commitments, making themselves vulnerable to students, getting emotionally attached to students and having to “let go” at the end of semester. There were a few issues of power and resistance, but fewer than the benefits recognized. The issue of resistance resonated around amount of time and pestering from the mentors.
D'Abate, Caroline P. 2009. "Defining Mentoring in the First-Year Experience: One Institution’s Approach to Clarifying the Meaning of Mentoring First-Year Students." Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition 21 (1): 65-91.
The authors are calling this a case study which is examining the functions of mentoring in both faculty and peer mentors who participated in a first-year experience program. “The respondents tended to agree that mentoring includes providing feedback, teaching, sharing information, directing, academic goal setting, advising, encouraging, aiding, academic goal tracking, modeling, problem solving, introducing, and observing. However, they did not agree on whether mentoring includes socializing, affirming, confidence building, providing practical application, helping on assignments, calming, collaborating, advocating, personal goal setting, personal goal tracking, befriending, sheltering, or supporting.” (73) “Table 3 also illustrates that faculty and peer mentors agree there are functions that should be reserved for peer mentors, including helping on assignments, affirming, and socializing. Faculty respondents reported that it is the peer mentor’s role, not their role, to befriend and support students. On the other hand, peer mentors are unsure if it is their role to befriend and support students. Finally, findings from this study suggest there are several mentoring functions that peer and faculty mentors believe are not appropriate for an FYE program, including collaborating, personal goal setting and tracking, providing practical application, calming, confidence building, advocating, and sheltering.” (83) At the end in the implication for practice section, the authors discuss the importance of clarifying the role of the mentor to improve mentor training.
Douglas, Lesley, Debra Jackson, Cindy Woods, and Kim Usher. 2018. "Reported Outcomes for Young People Who Mentor Their Peers: A Literature Review." Mental Health Practice 21 (9): 35-45. https://doi.org/10.7748/mhp.2018.e1328.
This was a systematic literature that identified 9 studies from 2006-2016 which focused on outcomes of the mentors. They were interested in mentors between 14-25 years. “Peer-to-peer mentoring was defined as a reciprocal relationship where peers of similar age and experiences (mentor) share their knowledge, skills and experiences with their peers (mentees) and provide support in a formal mentoring programme to foster positive growth and development.” (37) Interestingly, the attempted to classify the mentor training involved and ongoing adult support; these are often not discussed as much in this literature. The four important outcomes highlighted were: personal growth (changed perception of identity); psychosocial well-being (e.g., enhanced leadership skills); universality of the shared experience (connection with mentees); and mentor experiences (feel they could make a difference).
Egege, Sandra, and Salah Kutieleh. 2015. "Peer Mentors as a Transition Strategy at University: Why Mentoring Needs to Have Boundaries." Australian Journal of Education 59 (3): 265-77. https://doi.org/10.1177/0004944115604697.
This is a review of previous literature reviews around peer mentoring as “peer mentoring is often considered the single most effective strategy for increasing student retention and student satisfaction.” (abstract, 265). The role of the peer mentor is often seen as having multiple functions—academic advisor, confidante, friend, study buddy, career advisor, support, and role model. The article highlights the issues with defining mentoring and the importance of “setting the boundary conditions” for mentoring (272). For this paper, they write “mentoring programs had specified function, as did the mentor – to encourage student engagement and their sense of belonging the university.” (272-273). A major conclusion from the paper was that there appears to be no best/standard practice for mentoring, but diversity does matter in these relationships.
Gunn, Frances, Seung Hwan (Mark) Lee, and Madelyn Steed. 2017. "Student Perceptions of Benefits and Challenges of Peer Mentoring Programs: Divergent Perspectives From Mentors and Mentees." Marketing Education Review 27 (1): 15-26. https://doi.org/10.1080/10528008.2016.1255560.
This research study examined the benefits of both mentors and mentees in peer mentoring program. The participants were 107 first-year business students (mentees) and 16, 4th year mentors. The goals of the mentoring program were to help first-years students adjust to the university and for the 4th year student to get leadership experience. The mentoring model used in this program was based on the four domains identified by Crisp and Cruz (2009): psychological and emotional support; goal setting and career path; academic subject knowledge support; and the existence of a role model. Mentees regard identified the acquisition of subject knowledge and support as the most beneficial aspect of the mentoring program, as well as the biggest challenge. The mentors reported being a role model the most beneficial aspect of the mentoring experience, but also the most challenging. The findings of this study need to be taken in light of the mentoring program being within a departmental context and what the goals were for the mentors and mentees.
Holt, Laura J, and James E Fifer. 2018. "Peer Mentor Characteristics That Predict Supportive Relationships With First-Year Students: Implications for Peer Mentor Programming and First-Year Student Retention." Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice 20 (1): 67-91. https://doi.org/10.1177/1521025116650685.
This is an empirical study that examined mentor’s attachment style and self-efficacy and mentor-provided support. “Results showed that mentor self-efficacy mediated the relation between an avoidant attachment style and mentor-reported support; that is, peer mentors with a more avoidant attachment style reported lower self-efficacy to mentor and, in turn, endorsed providing lower levels of support for mentees” (67). Mentor–mentee contact; however, was the only predictor of mentees’ ratings of mentor support. “Potential peer mentors should feel comfortable (a) assisting students with academic, social, and personal challenges, (b) serving as a role model, (c) discussing their own academic and social experiences and challenges, (d) connecting students to campus resources, and (e) helping mentees to develop academic skills that allow them to function more autonomously in college” (85).
Lane, Stephanie R. 2018. "Addressing the Stressful First Year in College: Could Peer Mentoring Be a Critical Strategy?" Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice 22 (3): 481-496. https://doi.org/10.1177/1521025118773319.
The author uses an integrative literature review process to examine peer mentoring within first year programs. The author found seven articles which they reviewed. From this review, four issues emerged: 1) lack of a consistent peer mentoring definition; 2) theoretical and methodological issues of concern, 3) unexpected findings that impact program results, and 4) international comparisons. (9) The author suggests, “Tinto’s (1975) integration and social support framework appears to be most appropriate for assessing peer mentoring on retention as it relates to social and academic integration into college” (12).
Mullen, Carol A, and Cindy C Klimaitis. 2021. "Defining Mentoring: A Literature Review of Issues, Types, and Applications." Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1483 (1): 19-35. https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.14176.
This literature review discussed how some of the traditional definitions of mentoring may be falling out of favor. In traditional definitions of mentoring the career function may have carried more weight, but in more recently the psychosocial aspects of mentoring are becoming more prominent. To show this diversity in thinking, the authors describe nine mentoring alternatives or types: formal; informal; diverse; electronic; comentoring/collaborative; group; peer; multilevel; and cultural mentoring. Throughout the discussion of different mentoring options, it seems that issues related to DEI are present, as well as the recognition that development is not one-way, “mentees and mentors alike are learner, comentor, and change agent” (32).
O'Shea, Sarah, Sue Bennett, and Janine Delahunty. 2017. "Engaging ‘Students as Partners’ in the Design and Development of a Peer-Mentoring Program." Student Success 8 (2): 113-16. https://doi.org/10.5204/ssj.v8i2.390.
This is a short article based on a presentation about developing peer-mentoring programs with a students-as-partners approach. While the article didn’t talk much about the content of the presentation, there was one question that they posed that is noteworthy to consider when designing: “Who better to expose the implicit or hidden curriculum of university than those who are already on that journey?” (114)
Plaskett, Sean, Diksha Bali, Michael J. Nakkula, and John Harris. 2018. "Peer Mentoring to Support First-Generation Low-Income College Students." Phi Delta Kappan 99 (7): 47-51. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031721718767861.
This was an article written for a more general audience and was based on a previous study done by the participants and tried to provide practical implications for the reader. “Indeed, we found that the best matches integrated these two factors, in an approach we call relational instrumentality. That is, the incoming students were most successful when their mentors didn’t just help them meet their immediate needs but also bonded with them personally” (48). “Effective mentors build trusting relationships with their mentees and adopt mentee-centric, respectful approaches. This begins with establishing the right kind of match, but it also includes ensuring that the pairs share a strong commitment to the match and engage in activities that promote relational instrumentality” (50). From this they discuss four strategies to help with this: 1) building relationally instrumental matches; 2) fostering trust, 3) mentee-centric mentoring and 4) committing to the process.
Pon-Barry, Heather, Audrey St. John, Becky Wai-Ling Packard, and Barbara Rotundo. 2019. "A Flexible Curriculum for Promoting Inclusion through Peer Mentorship." In Proceedings of the 50th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education - SIGCSE ’19, 116-22. Minneapolis, MN: ACM Press.
This chapter described the Megas and Gigas Educate (MaGE) Training curriculum which “focuses on inclusion as a key tool for creating a welcoming environment that fosters a community of learning”(1116). This program was created for training of computer science peer mentors. The four core modules include: learning processes (e.g., active learning); motivational factors (e.g., self-efficacy and growth mindset); effective feedback and emotional intelligence; and inclusiveness and climate (1117). Preliminary data shows that teaching self-efficacy of mentors increased following implementation of the program. Interviews of 20 mentors showed effectiveness of the program. For the learners, the program showed improved retention of those in future computer science courses.
Seery, Christina, Andrea Andres, Niamh Moore-Cherry, and Sara O'Sullivan. 2021. "Students as Partners in Peer Mentoring: Expectations, Experiences and Emotions." Innovative Higher Education 46: 663–681. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-021-09556-8.
This research article discussed a peer mentoring program that was an orientation to Social Sciences program with the primary goal to develop social networks at the University College Dublin. This program mentors about 500 students with 66 peer mentors. In this study, peer mentors helped design and deliver the program and then some served as co-researchers. Three themes were identified for the mentors. First, peer mentors built relationships amongst students as well as university staff; the latter suggesting that the partnership approach worked. Second, there was a disconnect in expectations and experience of the program. Mentors expected to have more of an altruistic benefit for the mentees, but felt that much of their role was pragmatic helping navigate the university and less relational. Finally, as a result of not having the relational experience they expected, mentors experienced disappointment and feelings of rejection.