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Engaging the Commuter Student: Examining the Impact of a Majors Mentor Program on Commuter Students

Hoffman, R. Leigh (2024) Engaging the Commuter Student: Examining the Impact of a Majors Mentor Program on Commuter Students. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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University commuter students are typically less engaged outside the classroom than their residential counterparts, being less likely to participate in extracurricular activities and university-sponsored events. This lack of engagement can lead to lower rates of persistence and retention. At the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, a small, regional, public university, commuter students comprise almost 60% of the overall student population. Despite being the majority, these students are typically less engaged on campus than the residential students and have reported being less satisfied in a number of areas. Using an improvement science approach, my theory of improvement was that by connecting engagement opportunities to academics, I could increase commuter students’ involvement. The intervention I tested was a Majors Mentor program which involved upper-level students mentoring and connecting with second semester first-year students within the same major or academic area. The impact of this peer mentoring program on commuter students’ engagement was measured through a mixed-methods approach, including attendance records, a post-participation satisfaction and opinion survey, and semi-structured interviews conducted with the commuter students who were both mentees and mentors. Results of this study suggest that the Majors Mentor program helped commuter students to connect more actively with the campus community, and that they benefitted from the intervention, engaging more with the institution. Strengths, limitations, implications, and suggested improvements to the intervention are also discussed. Further iterations of this intervention are recommended in order to collect more conclusive data and findings and to help improve the program in the future.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hoffman, R. Leighleigh7@pitt.eduleigh7
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGunzenhauser,
Committee MemberTrahan,
Committee MemberKoleny, Mary
Date: 5 January 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 15 November 2023
Approval Date: 5 January 2024
Submission Date: 12 December 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 84
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: commuter students, college student engagement, college peer mentoring
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2024 20:35
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2024 20:35


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