But what's in it for them?: understanding the effects of participation in the Research Mentor Program from the mentor's perspective

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Donahue, Ann Elizabeth
The purpose of this study was to identify and describe the experiences of the research mentors who participated in the UNHMResearch Mentor Program. The research question that guided this study was: What effect did participation in the Research Mentor Program have on the research mentors who participated. The researcher sought to understand this experience from the mentors' perspective to determine if the reciprocal learning environment created through peer dyads impacted knowledge and skills. The participant sample (six women and two men) was drawn from among the students who completed the Tutor Development course between fall 2004 and spring 2013 and served at least one semester as a research mentor. The literature review explored the extent of collaborative efforts between academic libraries and college writing centers, surveyed the role of students in academic library reference and instruction services, and examined the application of Vygotsky's sociocultural learning strategies in higher education classrooms and academic libraries. The qualitative data collection methods utilized included semistructured interviews, a survey adapted from the Survey Regarding Satisfaction, learning and Development of Peer Mentors in Higher Education (Posa, 2011), and document reviews of interview transcripts and Tutor Development course syllabi. Three effects of program participation were identified: 1) participants expressed uncertainty and self-doubt in their abilities to succeed initially as a research mentor; 2) participants acknowledged a perceived increase in learning and personal development; and 3)participants attributed increased learning and personal development to the reciprocal learning environment engendered in the peer-to-peer dyads. This study appeared to confirm that reciprocal learning environments were created through the peer-to-peer dyads established between the research mentors and tutees and through the Tutor Development course cohort relationships. Several recommendations for future studies were offered that could expand upon and enhance these conclusions to answer the question, ���But what's in it for them?�۝ by affirming the value and benefit intrinsic to the role of the research mentor.