Undergraduate Curricular Peer Mentoring Programs: Perspectives on Innovation by Faculty, Staff, and Students

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9780739179321: Undergraduate Curricular Peer Mentoring Programs: Perspectives on Innovation by Faculty, Staff, and Students
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Curricular peer mentoring is a programmatic approach to enrich student learning and engagement in postsecondary courses in which instructors welcome a more experienced undergraduate student into a credit course they are teaching. The student then serves as peer mentor to the students enrolled. Peer mentors can provide a variety of peer-appropriate, course-specific mentoring, tutoring, facilitation and leadership roles and activities that complement the roles of the course’s instructor and teaching assistants both in classroom settings and beyond. A program provides training and ongoing support for a larger number of peer mentors and instructional teams and manages recruitment and program research and quality. This volume provides research findings, definitions, theories, and practical program descriptions as a foundation for program development and research of undergraduate curricular peer mentoring programs in higher education. This work builds on a long history of higher education program development and collects a significant amount of literature that has previously been scattered.

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About the Author:

Tania Smith is assistant professor of communications studies in the Department of Communication and Culture and has been involved in developing peer mentoring programs, hosting peer mentors, and teaching peer mentors across the University of Calgary since 2005. With a background in English literature, rhetoric and writing studies, she has studied innovative program and course development involving service-learning, mentoring and other forms of collaborative learning. She has co-authored with two senior peer mentors a textbook titled Curricular Peer Mentoring: A Handbook for Undergraduate Peer Mentors Serving and Learning in Courses (Trafford, 2009) and is author of a 2008 Innovative Higher Education article on the pilot year of the arts peer mentoring program.

Review:

Tania Smith’s volume, Undergraduate Curricular Peer Mentoring Programs, situates the heretofore practice-oriented peer instruction literature within a well-researched theoretical framework. It will be a valuable resource for researchers and practitioners. (Judy Miller, University of North Florida)

This book presents a sweeping, coherent overview of the many types of curricular peer mentoring practices, both institutionalized programs and unique, unaffiliated efforts, that have demonstrated their potential to improve student learning outcomes within standard post-secondary curricula. The authors commendably avoid selecting a best model in favor of emphasizing that the concept’s underlying principles and guidelines permit great flexibility when applied to different disciplines, course structures, and types of participants. The authors also deal effectively with the proliferation of definitions, labels, and education jargon that can confuse and intimidate an outsider looking just for a few good ideas to get started with peer mentoring. In particular, their decision to intersperse descriptions of specific programs with succinct summaries of education research is a nice touch. The last chapter can be used as a very practical "how to" guide for educators setting up the framework of a new peer mentoring program or reviewing the operation of an existing one. In summary, in may ways this book is the educational equivalent to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking: comprehensive, authoritative, a rich resource to be kept within arm’s reach by educators who want to enhance learning outcomes with the best ingredients available – students themselves. (Hal A. Larson, University of Arizona)

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