Ray SchroederAssociate Vice Chancellor for Online LearningDirector, Center for Online Learning , Research and ServiceUniversity of Illinois SpringfieldCarrie LevinAssistant DirectorCenter for Online Learning, Research and ServiceUniversity of Illinois SpringfieldEmily BolesSenior Instructional DeveloperCenter for Online Learning, Research and ServiceUniversity of Illinois Springfield
Need for Online MentoringInformal student-to-student advising On campus we have plenty of places where students congregate and communicate – there are time-honored networks that thrive on campuses Recall your days as a student – from whom and where did you receive informal advice?
Need for Online Mentoring Where/how does that informal advising take place online? Commonly we create a “coffee shop” or a “pub” in the discussion board Does that serve the conversation between students as they walk into/out of class – as they chat about …. “Are you kidding me, or did old Prof so and so really mean we should………? NO…. Because old Prof so and so sees that conversation!
Need for Online MentoringAcademic Issues For online students, who fills the role of the senior student – the one down the dorm hall who has taken this class? In an online class, who models best student responses? Where do you find a student who has taken the class who can look over your paper?
Need for Online MentoringNon-Academic Issues Many not purely academic issues arise for online students: Why is he always picking on my postings? I am in a family crisis – too embarrassing to tell my professor directly; falling behind English is not my first language and I just don’t understand what she is writing
Need for Online MentoringConfidential communicant One of the under-recognized, yet highly valued roles of the department secretary is as a confidential filter for student concerns Is there a liaison person who filters student concerns and raises them anonymously to the instructor as a departmental secretary might?
Participating Institutions Black Hawk College William Rainey Harper Elgin Community College College Triton College Illinois Community University of Illinois at College Board Springfield Lake Land College Waubonsee Community Moraine Valley College Community College
ResearchSeven Illinois community colleges eachidentified two “problem” online courses inwhich student completion rates were low.These instructors then selected formerstudents to become peer mentors in theircourses.
AssessmentAssessing the program itself Success of the program requires monitoring How do we measure success? – Course completion rates – Student performance – as in grades – Student satisfaction – Faculty satisfaction – Learning effectiveness Assessments should be shared with mentors Assessments should feed back into class development cycle
Results The non-completion rate in these courses was reduced by 3.48%. More significantly, though, student success improved. The number of failures was reduced by 3.28%, while the number of A grades and B grades increased by 7.20%.
Summary and Conclusions Peer mentoring enhances online classes Peer mentoring involves close communication with both faculty and students Assessment and change is essential to success If one student per class is retained (tuition retained) the cost of the tutor is covered – and all benefit! win-win-win!
Establishing a ProgramGetting Started Incremental start is wise • Identify a handful of successful faculty members • Begin with classes where success is most likely Develop best practices Refine compensation plan for mentors Initiate training program Establish an assessment program • Assessment program should loop into training program
Establishing a ProgramCoordinating program - supporting mentors Organizational structure possibilities • Center for teaching and learning • Online learning center • Advising / tutoring center More content-centric than techno-centric Hosting unit • Must support meetings / training – Some mentors may be at a distance • Provide assistance with challenging issues
Establishing a ProgramSelecting peer mentors Relationship to faculty member is essential • Level of trust must be established • Continuous flow of communication • UIS effective practice – faculty members choose Content knowledge is important Compensation issues may arise • Graduate Assistants may not be able to receive additional compensation
Establishing a ProgramTraining peer mentors Intake training will be required Senior mentors may “mentor” others ☺ Tutoring and counseling staff may make valuable contributions Assessments of the program should flow into the training Don’t forget to assess the training itself
Establishing a ProgramCompensation for peer mentors In order to rely on peer mentors compensation should be a part of the program • Tutorial/independent study credit a possibility – Particularly for those who seek to go into teaching • Compensation should reflect the time expectations – Eight to ten hours a week may be appropriate – Should be monitored by the faculty member • $1,200 at $8.00/hour covers 10 hours a week for 15 weeks
Establishing a ProgramConfidentiality Important aspects of the mentor’s role Faculty members need to rely on the confidentiality of the mentor • For exam material • For some class strategies Students need to rely on the confidentiality of the mentor • For personal problems • To protect against possible retribution
Center for Online Learning,Research and ServiceUniversity of Illinois at SpringfieldOne University PlazaSpringfield, IL email@example.com