Applied Psychology OPUS

Effects of Mentoring on Students' Academic Success

Jonathan Simmonds

Faculty Mentor | Dr. Adina Schick

In 2001, Congress implemented the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind policy) aimed at bridging the educational achievement gap across racial and ethnic lines. Fourteen years into No Child Left Behind, the educational divide persists in spite of well-meaning policy changes. Reports show that as recently as 2013, students of color disproportionately suffer from high suspension and grade retention rates, which decreases the likelihood of graduating from high school. However, researchers suggest that interventions – more specifically mentoring – can assist in creating ideal environments for the academic prosperity of minority students.

The objective of this qualitative study was to assess whether mentors at Upward Bound affect students’ academic success. Data sources were comprised of field notes that were written weekly over the course of 6 months. Additionally, interviews were conducted with seven present and former upward bounds students whose age ranged from 17-22 (5 males; 2 females). Data was chunked into meaningful units, and then, using open coding techniques, chunks were read multiple times to allow the themes to emerge from the data. Social support, structure, hope, and access to resources were found to be the primary themes. These themes align with past research that shows mentors instil a sense of academic resilience in the students they work with. Results indicate that Upward Bound mentors are effective in supporting students’ academic success. Findings suggest policymakers should continue to fund programs like Upward Bound that provide students with much-needed academic and social support.