Date of Graduation

8-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology

Advisor

Catherine Shoulders

Committee Member

Jefferson Miller

Second Committee Member

Charles Rosenkrans

Keywords

Agricultural Education, Agriculture College, Higher Education, Homophily, Honors College, Peer Mentoring

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to assess mentees’ experiences in a peer mentor program in an honors college of agriculture and to determine which factors impact mentees’ ability to relate to their peer mentor based on the theory of homophily and interpersonal attraction. Colleges of agriculture are encouraged to examine which determinants impact students’ decisions to enter agri-science programs, what draws students to postsecondary agricultural programs, and to try recruiting underserved individuals into higher education to fulfill open employment opportunities for diverse, skilled, and globally competent individuals (Goeker, et al., 2015; Stripling & Ricketts, 2017). Peer mentoring is often implemented as a means of encouraging students’ success during their transition to college, as well as strengthening the personal and professional development of the mentor and the mentee (Colley, 2002; Hall and Jaugietis, 2010; Minor, 2007), which may be helpful for colleges of agriculture to engage and retain students. Mentees in the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food, and Life Sciences Honors Program reported that their peer mentors were helpful overall and did agree that they experienced homophily with their peer mentors. Mentees most related to their peer mentors in the areas of task attraction, social attraction, and physical attraction, while reporting slightly lower levels of background and attitude homophily, which was congruent with a previous study conducted by Rocca & McCroskey (1999). The results from this study also echoed previous qualitative and quantitative studies regarding the conceptualization of the roles of peer mentors (Benjamin, 2003; Colvin & Ashman, 2010). I recommend that peer mentoring programming offer more targeted support for racial/ethnic minority students, First-Generation students, and students who do not receive financial aid, and that groups continue to be selected by major to improve homophily.

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