Peer Mentoring Contributes to Career Growth of Undergraduate Nutrition and Dietetics Students

Megan E. Grimes, Sandra D. Baker, Marie Fanelli Kuczmarski
2014 Creative Education  
Peer mentoring has been shown to improve social networks and reduce the rate of failure in college classes. However, it has not been studied extensively with nutrition and dietetics majors, who may benefit from peer mentoring as a way to cultivate learning and improve communication and leadership skills. The University of Delaware's Dietetics Program recently implemented crossyear peer mentoring in the relatively large Introduction to Nutrition Professions class, a First Year Experience course.
more » ... At the end of every class, the mentors, upperclassmen, met with small groups of students to answer questions, review assignments, and share their experiences. The ratio of mentor to student was 1:10. All mentors received training by the course instructor prior to the first mentoring sessions. The effectiveness of the mentoring experience was evaluated for both the mentees and the mentors of the 2012 and 2013 classes by a validated online survey. Of the 254 mentees, 176 (69%) completed the survey; of the 24 mentors, 21 responded. Approximately 75% of the mentees agreed or strongly agreed that mentoring provided them nutrition resources, and that they could ask the mentor questions about the field of nutrition. Mentees noted that they benefited from increased knowledge of university resources and nutrition careers and the valuable advice from mentors. Almost all mentors agreed that the program increased their leadership and communication skills, and that it was a positive experience. Mentor benefits included career development and favorable dietetic internship acceptance rate, higher than the national average. Roughly 35% of mentees and 8 of 21 mentors agreed or strongly agreed that the mentoring session expanded their friendship networks within the major. Based on these positive outcomes, peer mentoring is an effective method to enhance students' learning and career growth.
doi:10.4236/ce.2014.514147 fatcat:o2rscjhosbgmnj4lvwx7xh6qde