Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Education

Committee Chair(s)

Idalis Villanueva Alarcón


Idalis Villanueva Alarcón


Kurt Becker


Oenardi Lawanto


Wade Goodridge


Thomas Fronk


“Nobody makes it alone. Nobody has made it alone” (NOVA SHRM & Dulles SHRM, 2012, p. 5). Mentoring generally has positive outcomes, such as increasing output, staying in work or school, increasing confidence, and others (Campbell & Campbell, 2007; Crisp & Cruz, 2009; Eby et al., 2008; NASEM, 2019; Pfund et al., 2016). This dissertation study focused on student perceived needs for peer mentorship in engineering, which can fill in gaps of traditional mentorship by pairing mentors and mentees at similar levels, increasing comfort and emotional support to mentees (Allen et al., 2017; Haggard et al., 2011; Kram & Isabella, 1985; Meyers et al., 2010; NASEM, 2019).

While there are peer mentorship programs in higher education, there is a lack of agreement on what is important. This is because of limited understanding (Crisp & Cruz, 2009; Gershenfeld, 2014; Jacobi, 1991). Most studies have focused on evaluating peer mentoring programs to find program issues instead of finding what students perceive as a need (Crisp & Cruz, 2009). Needs assessments are used to look at needs before building a program (Office of Migrant Education, 2001; Witkin & Altschuld, 1995). These can help in finding out and meeting student needs. Participant ideas can be vital in successfully making and running a peer mentorship program (Gershenfeld, 2014).

There are few examples of studies being designed to explore student perceived needs for any type of formal mentorship program (Allen et al., 2017; Binkley & Brod, 2013; Breakey et al., 2018; Riley et al., 2014; Sawatzky & Enns, 2009; Sinclair et al., 2015; Tran et al., 2012; von der Borch et al., 2011). In undergraduate engineering education, only one work shows an assessment tool being used to explore the peer mentoring needs of engineering students (Jones & Waggenspack, 2017). The study by Jones & Waggenspack (2017) was limited because the needs assessment asked students to reflect on their needs while evaluating the existing program instead of before the program was designed. The lack of assessments of needs before the design of mentoring programs is concerning since institutions are investing money to keep students without ample evidence to support the need and success of those programs. Also, without understanding student ideas about formal peer mentoring programs, universities may cater to some students but not all.

This dissertation aimed to find undergraduate engineering students’ common perceived needs for peer mentoring. This was in connection with training and matching/initiating considerations, which are important to the formation of a mentoring program. For this work, student perceived needs were considered an essence of the student experience in a higher education environment. As such, this dissertation focused on developing and validating a survey instrument. The instrument allows for collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data to better understand this essence. One unique element of this survey was that the procedures were conducted during COVID-19, which gave an opportunity to consider student perceived needs of both in-person and virtual mentoring relationships. The results serve to inform the process of developing and implementing appropriate training and matching/initiating standards of practice for peer mentorship programs within a College of Engineering.