Mentee Perspectives of a First-Year Peer Mentoring Program for Education Doctoral (EdD) Students

Rachel L Geesa, Kendra Lowery, Kat McConnell
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 13  •  2018  •  pp. 471-495

In this paper, we examine how first-year education doctoral (EdD) students in a peer mentoring program may be supported in the academic and psychosocial domains to increase timely degree completion, decrease attrition, and improve the EdD program for students and faculty.

EdD students often face unique trials based on academic, social, professional, and personal challenges that arise during their degree program. The paper addresses how peer mentoring programs may help students overcome these challenges while completing their EdD program.

To investigate the effectiveness of a peer mentoring program for students, we focused on a single case study of an EdD peer mentoring program with 11 first-year EdD students who participated in the program. Using mixed methods, we collected and analyzed data from pre- and post-surveys, individual interviews, and a focus group.

Few studies about peer mentoring programs for EdD students exist. This study is unique because it focuses on first-year EdD students’ perspectives and, unlike other studies on peer mentoring programs, peer mentors are defined as graduates of the EdD program or current EdD students who are further along in the program. Whilst many studies of peer mentoring recommend peer mentoring for new students, our findings suggest that in the case of EdD students, extended or later peer mentoring may be more beneficial.

From the quantitative and qualitative data results, five themes related to mentee perspectives of the benefits of EdD peer mentoring program emerged: 1) receiving academic advice and program support; 2) focusing on the future; 3) receiving emotional support and work-life balance advice; 4) having an experienced and relatable mentor; and 5) needing more mentoring to derive benefits. While mentees reported positive feelings about the mentoring program, many expressed that they did not yet have a need for mentoring. Considering that most mentoring studies focus on early program mentees, these results present the possibility of a need for extended or later-program mentoring. Based on the data, we identified a need for additional research which focuses on determining the correct timing for EdD students to begin peer mentoring program since students take coursework during their first year and have not begun work in the dissertation phase of the program.

Sustainability of peer mentoring programs can present challenges based on the time and needs of mentees, mentors, and faculty. Doctoral faculty should evaluate the benefits of an EdD peer mentoring program for mentees on a regular basis to ensure that the program effectively supports and guides mentees to degree completion.

Literature and research on the evaluation, impact, and value of peer mentoring programs for EdD students and first-year doctoral students are limited. Researchers could study further the perspectives of mentees in an EdD peer mentoring program throughout their degree program from taking coursework to writing a dissertation. The benefits of early-program mentoring in comparison to later-program mentoring could be investigated further.

Providing mentoring opportunities to EdD students may help them overcome academic, social, and emotional challenges, and in turn, allow more education leaders to successfully complete their EdD and use their education to improve their school communities.

Future studies should examine other options of mentoring programs for first-year EdD students and EdD students who completed their EdD coursework and are working on their dissertation. Longitudinal studies are also needed to track mentees’ progression throughout the program.

doctoral program, EdD, education doctorate, mentee, mentor, peer mentoring, program evaluation
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