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Computer science undergraduates' perceptions of e-mail peer mentoring

Suzanne M Castriotta, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This research addressed a potential strategy to help boost retention rates for Computer Science undergraduates. A study was conducted at a small New England liberal arts college to determine students' perceptions of e-mail peer-mentoring (EPM). EPM was offered to 40% of students taking the first CS major course (CS1) and was available for the entire semester. EPM participants were assigned peer mentors, selected from an upper-level CS class, to support participants solely via e-mail. Half of the EPM participants knew the name of their mentor while the other half had to communicate anonymously. All participants had additional resources available to them including the textbook, CS department lab tutors, course instructor, and CS1 course tutor. Results indicate that EPM was not well utilized by EPM participants, and that EPM had no significant effect on students' CS interest, CS ability, computer comfort, computer programming, or course completion confidence. Further, knowing or not knowing mentors' names had no significant effect. However, EPM participants recommended that EPM be continued; while they had not needed it, they felt it would be valuable for other students who might need it. Mentors also felt that EPM was worthwhile but that it may be better suited for the more challenging CS2 course. Both participants' and mentors' suggestions notably included an option to hold mentor-mentee meetings. Overall, it seemed that students regarded e-mail as a lower priority among adequate resources for learning assistance.

Subject Area

Educational software|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Castriotta, Suzanne M, "Computer science undergraduates' perceptions of e-mail peer mentoring" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3118289.