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The Center for Bright Beams, A National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center

Physics Education Research Seminar (Public invited)

Thu, 03/24/2022, 1:00pm

Mentoring can change the trajectory of a mentee's life. With so many new members joining CBB and undergraduates joining us for the summer, this seminar being hosted by Natasha Holmes through LEPP @ Cornell may be of special interest.

Host: Natasha Holmes

Title: A course-based near-peer mentoring program in physics

Date/Time: Thursday, March 24, 2022 at 1:00pm (EST)

Location: 401 Physical Sciences Building & Zoom (link in department email)

Abstract: When the COVID-19 pandemic started, the MIT Physics Department implemented a one-on-one mentorship program for students in a large first-year undergraduate electromagnetism class required of all students. Eighty-eight students in the class met weekly one-on-one with mentors (mostly more advanced undergraduates who were paid for their efforts, but also including some staff and faculty) for both academic and psychosocial support. The academic performance of mentored students generally improved significantly over the rest of the semester and also in comparison with students who did not choose mentoring. Post-semester interviews of all mentors identified program elements that fostered belonging, STEM identity, and self-efficacy. Strong satisfaction led to a scaling up of the program to incorporate all MIT first- and second-year undergraduate physics classes and to add physics graduate students and postdocs as mentors. Inspired by the Learning Assistants model, this program builds a community of practice that contributes to the academic success of mentees, develops the skills of mentors, and fosters belonging in the physics department. This talk will summarize key elements of the program including its assessment.