Perceived social and academic roles of peer mentors in a pre-health college program

Heim & Holt / Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning / September 2022

diverse students studying outside

Peer mentors can significantly influence the success of undergraduates, particularly in science programs for those identifying as first-generation and historically marginalized. The authors sought to better understand the roles and expectations of the peer mentors themselves in a pre-health program for first-generation students, many of whom identify as marginalized. Therefore, they asked: (1) What are the perceptions of peer mentors regarding their roles in providing (1) academic and (2) social support to mentees? They conducted interviews with five peer mentors of this pre-health program in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018. Their findings suggest that multiple benefits and challenges are perceived by peer mentors of this program in regard to academic and social roles–and that these perceptions are generally not exclusive to first generation-focused college programs. The authors suggest that in the future, similar pre-health programs should offer more pedagogical professional development opportunities for peer mentors and access to necessary course resources.