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CSU San Bernardino uses undergraduate student mentors as part of a redesigned course

The goal of CSUSB's Transforming Course Design project is to restructure the Gateway Program, our First-Year Experience project, in ways that implement cost-saving measures that will promote sustainability and institutionalization.  The new structure includes merging several 20-person cohorts (established in the fall and winter quarters in ENG 085A/B) into one large class in spring quarter: five cohorts will merge into one section of PSYCH 100; four cohorts will merge into HIST 142; and three cohorts will merge into the HSCI 120 lecture and will take the lab in their original cohorts of 20.

A key element of the redesigned courses is the use of senior undergraduate students as mentors, who can preserve the small-class feel of the larger cohorts. To this point in the project, we have accomplished the following project steps:

  • 13 undergraduate students were hired to serve as mentors for the Gateway Program by the beginning of Fall 2007. Each Gateway cohort has one mentor attached to it; this mentor, who will follow his/her cohort throughout all three quarters, attends all Gateway classes with his/her cohort and holds at least one office hour a week for the students in his/her cohort.
  • Margaret Blue, director of CSU Dominguez Hills' SPARK! Program, was consulted about the job description for these tutors/mentors and about strategies for training and assessing the effectiveness of these tutor/mentors.
  • Mentors meet twice a month with the Gateway Program director to discuss strategies for working with students on their assignments, facilitating discussion groups, advising questions, etc.
  • Survey of how students are utilizing mentors and of their opinions about effectiveness and usefulness of the mentoring component of the Gateway Program was conducted at the end of beginning of the Winter '08 quarter. The results of this survey indicate that :
  • 85% of the students surveyed said they sought help from their Gateway mentor on assignments for their Gateway class
  • 40% of those surveyed said they sought help for assignments for other classes
  • 59% sought help with issues other than coursework
  • 83% said they took advantage of their Gateway mentor's office hours outside of class
  • 96% said that they feel they have benefited from having a Gateway mentor attend class with them and 78% said they felt this "very strongly."