Peer mentoring improves doctoral students’ research skills

In relation to faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows play an important role in the academic growth of doctoral students, a new study by researchers at Utah State University found.

Directed by David Feldon, a professor of teaching technology and learning sciences at the university, the study found an improvement in the research skills of doctoral students, when they are mentored by peers in their laboratories.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the study assessed the academic skills of more than 300 doctoral students in the biological sciences. The annual evaluations showed a drop in the score of doctoral students who were not supervised by senior graduate students and post-docs.

However, students who actively participated in lab discussions with close peers reported five times greater academic improvement between the third and fourth year of their program.

“These findings support a ‘cascade mentoring’ model, in which faculty invest the most effort in mentoring postdoctoral fellows, who then mentor graduate students, who in turn mentor undergraduates working in the field. laboratory “, the press release from the university read.

The general study created a buzz among the research community. he received more attention than 98% of other articles recently published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

As a result of the study, Feldon plans to implement evidence-based practices for higher education.

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Paul N. Strickland

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