E-mentoring Supports for Improving the Persistence of Underrepresented Students in On-line and Traditional Courses

  • Gerri WolfeEmail author
  • Noel Gregg
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9177)


On-line education has broadened access to college allowing the same educational opportunities as students enrolled at a traditional campus. The increase in on-line enrollment is over shadowed by course drop out and failure rates which are higher than campus-based rates. With many underrepresented students facing barriers to campus-based education, on-line courses hold great appeal. However, the on-line environment has posed challenges due to the limited availability of support services which can lead to frustration and subsequent withdrawal from courses. The purpose of this paper is to explore e-mentoring using the BreakThru e-mentoring model as a back drop. Three aspects of the e-mentoring program will be examined: (1) factors associated with how underrepresented students use social media tools, including virtual platforms, while participating in an e-mentoring program; (2) factors contributing to the development of mentee/mentor relationships; and (3) factors which affect a mentee’s increased persistence in a STEM major.


E-mentoring On-line courses Underrepresented college students Disability Virtual platforms social media Persistence STEM 



The research reported here was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Grant 1027635 to the University of Georgia and 1027655 to the Georgia Institute of Technology. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the view of NSF.


  1. 1.
    Allen, L., Seaman, J.: Going the Distance: Online Education in the USA 2011. Babson Survey Research Group, Wellesley MA (2011)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Levy, Y.: Comparing Dropouts and Persistence in E-learning Courses. Comput. Educ. 48(2), 185–204 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Perez, E.: Online Community College Students More Likely to Fail, Withdraw (2011).
  4. 4.
    Heyman, E.: Overcoming Student retention issues in higher education online programs. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration 8(4) (2010)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Kinghorn, J. The New Digital Divide: Peer Collaboration as a Bridge. Association for University Regional Campuses of Ohio Journal 20 (2014)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ashwin, P.: Peer Facilitation and How it Contributes to the Development of a More Social View of Learning. Res. Post-Compulsory Educ. 8, 5–7 (2003)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Muldoon, R.: Recognizing and Rewarding the contribution and personal Development of Peer Supporters at University. J. Further High. Educ. 32(3), 207–219 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Joint Information Systems Committee. Great Expectations of ICT, How Higher Education Institutions are Measuring Up.
  9. 9.
    Kirriemuir, J.A.: A Spring 2008 ‘snapshot’ of UK Higher and Further Education Developments in Second Life.
  10. 10.
    Single, P.B., Single, R.M.: E-mentoring for social equity: review of research to inform program development. Mentoring and Tutoring 13(2), 45–60 (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sowers, J., Powers, L., Shpigelman, C.: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM): Mentoring for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities: A Review of the Research, Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation (2012).
  12. 12.
    Ensher, E.A., Murphy, S.E.: E-mentoring: next generation research strategies and suggestions. In: Ragins, B.R., Kram, K.E. (eds.) The Handbook of Mentoring at Work: Theory, Research and Practice, pp. 299–322. Sage Publications, Los Angeles (2007)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    DuBois, D.L., Holloway, B.E., Valentine, J.C., Cooper, H.: Effectiveness of mentoring programs for youth: a meta-analytic review. Am. J. Community Psychol. 30(2), 157–197 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    National Research Council. Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research. Washington, DC (2012).
  15. 15.
    Kahn, J.H., Nauta, M.M.: Social-cognitive predictors of first-year college persistence: the importance of proximal assessment. Res. High. Educ. 42(6), 633–652 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Toker, Y., Ackerman, P.L.: Utilizing occupational complexity levels in vocational interest assessments: assessing interests for STEM areas. J. Vocat. Behav. 80(2), 524–544 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Compton, J.I., Cox, E., Laanan, F.S.: Adult learners in transition. In: Laanan, F.S. (ed.) Understanding Students in Transition Trends and Issues, 73–80. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco (2006)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wehmeyer, M.L.: Framing for the Future: self-determination. Remedial and Special Education, 1–4 (2014)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    National Science Foundation. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2011. Arlington: VA (2011).

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Regents’ Center for Learning DisordersUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Interdisciplinary Research in Education and Human DevelopmentUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations