Special Populations Collaborative

Economically Disadvantaged/All Special Populations

San Francisco City College Peer Mentoring

Christine Francisco, Coordinator,

Office of Mentoring and Service-Learning (OMSL)

Tel: 415.2393771, or  cfrancis@ccsf.edu

Target population : Students who are not academically well prepared and/or who face multiple challenges of limited English language proficiency, limited academic experience, multiple responsibilities of raising a family, working full-time and attending college. Peer-mentors, who were often mentees themselves, are available to work with all students who are at-risk in the course or program. Peer-mentors work to improve outcomes for special populations: they work with students with limited English proficiency on the language support necessary to understand and succeed in the labs, the classroom and the curriculum, and they provide practice and support with the equipment and the technological vocabulary necessary to be successful; for economically disadvantaged students and single parents who have difficulty managing their time with competing responsibilities at school, work, and home, mentors, who have been through the same difficulties, offer coping skills

Goals: Provide vocational education students in 12 TOP Code areas with peer mentoring support targeted to their needs so that they can successfully make progress through and complete their vocational programs and be ready to enter the job market in their field of interest.

Description: Sixteen CCSF faculty are sponsoring peer mentoring projects in 12 TOP Code areas to work on barriers to success and program completion. The mentoring will be supervised on site by the faculty sponsoring the projects. Mentoring will be provided either one-to-one or in small groups throughout the semester and will enable students who otherwise might drop or fail to move successfully through their vocational programs and learn the job skills necessary for employment in their field of interest, thus addressing Core Indicators #1 and #2 by increasing student success and ability to successfully complete their coursework, leading to greater course or certificate completion. Students at risk receive mentoring from their peers, students very much like themselves who have successfully completed the targeted classes or programs. They provide academic support and an ongoing relationship of social and peer support. Many mentees need increased access to the services that CCSF provides, and mentors are trained to make referrals to services. The ongoing mentoring support and the relationship that develops with the mentor make a crucial difference in student outcomes

Staffing: Peer-mentors, Faculty Sponsor, a general office that can support the program in paperwork requirements.

Facilities, equipment, materials: Peer-mentoring takes place in labs, classrooms and other college sites. Equipment is unique to the course/discipline and is provided by the vocational program. The OMSL distributes an RFP. Faculty respond with a proposal that establishes need and goals. The OMSL pays Faculty a stipend of approximately $350 per semester to supervise the project and peer-mentors $9 hr as student lab aides for their mentoring work.

Costs, funding source: Each project costs around $2,000 a semester to run. This includes the faculty stipend and lab aide funds to pay the peer-mentors. A VTEA grant funds a majority of the student lab aide funds. The institution covers the remainder of the student lab aide funds and the faculty stipends. A small percentage of the students volunteer to be peer-mentors.

Outreach and marketing: The faculty provides the outreach to mentors and mentees. The OMSL provides general information about the projects.

Evidence of effectiveness: Generally, of those CCSF vocational students receiving mentoring 86% received a grade of "C" or higher, and specifically, of those students in top code areas that were targeted for improvement in Core indicator #1, 81% of the mentees received a grade of "C" or higher as compared to only 49% of those not receiving mentoring. In addition, the withdrawal rate among vocational students being mentored was 5% as compared to those vocational students who were not mentored who had a withdrawal rate of 28%, and specifically, of those students in top code areas targeted for improvement in retention, those mentored had a withdrawal rate of 4% as compared to the non-mentored rate of 35%.

Students and faculty complete questionnaires to evaluate their mentoring experience. Comparable to the results of last year's questionnaires, of the mentees who responded, 70% rate their mentoring experience as "excellent" with 28% reporting it as "satisfactory". In reporting the benefits of peer-mentoring, 85% of the respondents reported that they understood the course material better because of the peer-mentoring. 63% said the peer-mentoring increased their problem solving and critical thinking skills.

From the faculty perspective, 82% felt that the mentees benefitted by being able to stay in the course and not drop and improve their course grade and 94% agreed with the mentees that the peer-mentoring increased problem solving and critical thinking skills . From the mentors' perspective, 94% felt that mentees understood the course material better.

Over the last four years peer-mentoring has become an integral part of vocational courses and programs. Many faculty members say they would not be able to provide the same quality of instruction and educational experience without the peer-mentor program. They echo the reports that peer-mentoring increases student success in the classroom and the working world. Jennifer Biehn, Microcomputer Business, says: "50% of students are at-risk and because of this semester's peer mentoring program, they stay in class instead of dropping out. 90% of the mentees increase their grade by at least one grade level." Terri Winston, Broadcast Media Arts reports: "The enrollment of women in advanced classes (under-represented students) has remained steady at 41%. This semester peer mentors have been placed at GRAMMY winner Tracy Chapman's studio, The Plant Recording Studios and OTR studios. Former mentors are now working at Cutting Edge Audio, TransAudio and Portrero Post."

Suggestions for replication: Faculty select appropriate former students to act as peer mentors. The OMSL provides a 6 week general mentor/peer-support training. Faculty communicate with mentors throughout the semester and advise and trouble-shoot. It is very easy to replicate. Being able to pay the peer-mentors is a big incentive. Mentors themselves gain great skills in the subject area as well as experience in leadership roles.