[ Student Success ] Peer Mentoring: Helping Students Find Success n its continuing quest to improve and promote student success, Middlesex is embracing the concept of peer-to-peer interaction across the college. I Peer Tutors Middlesex is now employing a growing number of Peer Tutors in its Learning Centers. “We have always had both professional and peer tutors,” said Noreen McGinness Olson, acting Director of Academic Support and Tutoring. “But we have really come to appreciate that mentoring is a large component of tutoring,” she said. The goal with all tutoring is for students to become independent learners, McGinness Olson explained, and the hope is students will acquire good study skills and learn time management. “We train our Peer Tutors to make them aware of what they’re doing, which is tutoring and mentoring,” said McGinness Olson. “Tutoring is the course content piece, while mentoring is the student-success skills piece.” 4 Peer Tutors, shown here working with students in Lowell’s Academic Support Center, are successful students trained to help other students. questions, take notes, and facilitate weekly study groups. The SI program especially targets introductory Health and STEM “barrier” courses. “These are rigorous intro courses that students are known to have trouble with – like ‘Anatomy & Physiology,’ ‘Chemistry’ and ‘Biology.’ If students don’t do well in these courses, they can’t progress in their program,” said McGinness Olson. “Our FYE mentors are returningstudent leaders who are trained to work in and outside of class,” Newell explained. Their primary goal is to establish a rapport with MCC’s newest students – but exactly how they do that varies, depending on the mentor and the professor they work with. Some Peer Mentors facilitate group discussions or set up study groups and class Facebook sites, said Newell. Others arrive early or stay late after class, making themselves available for questions. Peer Mentors who apply to the program must be good students, attend a leadership training retreat, and meet with Newell four times a semester, to assess how they’re doing. “Being a Peer Mentor takes a lot of effort,” she said. “Students won’t necessarily respond to you right away. The more persistent the mentors, the more impact they have.” • Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leaders Another way peers can assist the learning process is through MCC’s new Supplemental Instruction (SI) program. SI Leaders are students who model good-student behavior in Health, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and English courses. After having earned a “B” or higher in a particular course, SI Leaders are hired and trained in facilitating collaborativelearning activities, learning theory, and managing study groups, according to McGinness Olson. They then sit in on a new section of the same course, ask First-Year Experience Peer Mentors Student-to-student mentoring is also offered in many one-credit First-Year Experience (FYE) courses. Run by Assistant Dean of Students Rebecca Newell, the FYE Peer Mentor program places successful, engaged students in courses specifically designed to help new students adjust to college. Kathy Register Profiles [8]