This chapter reports on a mixed study dealing with the impact of integrating student peer mentor facilitators into online discussions in an effort to improve the quality and effectiveness of collaborative learning. The study included developing and testing of an assessment scale for measuring students’ perceived peer mentoring course satisfaction. During the five-week study, training interventions were implemented in the third week. The study tested whether college students’ perceived peer mentoring course satisfaction scores increase as a result of the peer mentoring training intervention. The resulting increasing quantitative mean score trend combined with positive qualitative feedback provided evidence of an overall growth in students’ perceived peer mentoring community satisfaction, worthy of further investigation. The assessment instrumented created has positive implications for online collaboration at all education levels.
As pointed out by DuBois and Archer (2004), mentoring has a long history in human writings, originating in ancient Greece. As recorded in Homer’s Odyssey, before Odysseus sailed away to war, he entrusted his son to the care of Mentor, an older wise man. It is believed that the existence of mentoring predates writing and Homer, reaching back to the time of early hunters and gatherers. Today, a tremendous resurgence of interest in mentoring is occurring in such diverse groups as commercial industries, government, “not-for-profit organizations, corporations, and legislative initiatives at state and national levels” (DuBois & Archer, 2004, p. 2). The growing interest includes scholars in many disciplines.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Intervention: The intervention refers to the actions taken to effect change in knowledge and behavior through the implementation of guidelines, training, and practice activities.
Dialogue: The dialogue, conversation, or text-based communications in the online learning environment are used for exchanging ideas, knowledge, and experiences.
Collaborate: Students collaborate or work together with classmates in a team effort to expand the mutual generation of intellectual ideas, knowledge, and experiences in the online learning environment.
Affective Community: The affective community is composed of learners engaged in building a socially successful and supportive online learning community where ideas, knowledge, and experiences can be shared and respected.
Facilitator: The facilitator is the person responsible for leading or coordinating the work of the group, such as leading an online group discussion by generating and posting questions, responding to others, asking further questions to clarify understanding, guide, support, and provide summary comments to facilitate the group interactions.
E-Learning Environment: The e-learning environment refers to the collaborative interactions used for knowledge acquisition within the online computer mediated digital system.
Peer Mentoring: Peer mentoring is defined as students sharing the responsibility for facilitating the online interactions by generating and posting questions, responding to others, asking further questions to clarify understanding, guide, support, and provide summary comments to facilitate building the collective knowledge base.