STEM Central

A Community of Practice for NSF STEM Projects

Peer Mentoring Using Science Labs

Peer mentoring in introductory science labs is both an effective way to impact many students and a program that is sustainable beyond the grant.

Peer mentors have been placed in introductory chemistry and physics labs in order to assist students as they adjust to the rigors of being a STEM major. The peer mentors are comprised of upperclassmen that have successfully completed the same course they mentor in; therefore, they are able to understand the challenges facing many of the underclassmen as they adjust both academically and socially to college.

Laboratory peer mentors are assigned to a lab section and attend that lab each week. They serve in a double capacity as they assist the students by explaining material and answering questions and by presenting additional topics of interest to the students. Some topics focus on STEM activities on campus while other topics describe academic resources available to assist students.

The peer mentors work closely with the lab instructors to ensure that they are prepared for and able to assist with the material being worked on each week. Peer mentors attend a mid-semester meeting to discuss the program’s progress and write reflective essays at the program’s completion. They register for a 1 credit teaching science course. Lab students complete interest surveys and peer mentor evaluation surveys. Student surveys results suggest that the introductory laboratory students significantly appreciate the presence of a peer mentor in their lab classes.

The design of peer mentoring using labs ensures that all of the laboratory students are exposed to the positive influence of a peer mentor on a weekly basis. Beyond the initial cost of peer mentoring curriculum development, there is no expense required to continue the program semester after semester. Minor revisions to the peer mentoring curriculum allows for it to be adapted readily to science labs beyond chemistry and physics as was done with its expansion into geology labs. Peer mentoring in introductory science labs at SUNY Oswego has proven to be sustainable and replicable.

Lead Author

  • Fehmi Damkaci

Authors

Name Organization
Kristin Gublo SUNY College at Oswego
Karen Valentino SUNY College at Oswego

Institution Information

  • Name: SUNY College at Oswego
  • State: NY

Poster Information

  • ID: PI-008
  • Disciplinary Focus: All STEM
  • Award Number: 1161127
  • Project Year 2