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The Team Mentoring Program (TMP) at Washington State University (WSU) was established in 2007 in order to increase participation, persistence, achievement, and graduation of underrepresented minority students and women in STEM and pre-health disciplines. In response to concerns among faculty and students that some underrepresented minority students felt discouraged from pursuing engineering disciplines, leaders at WSU developed the TMP to foster resilience, peer encouragement, and a supportive community for these students.
The TMP is a peer mentoring activity that assists incoming students in adjusting academically and socially in the WSU environment. Through TMP, faculty and upper-level students mentor sophomores and transfer students who have an interest in STEM and pre-health college programs. The TMP is anchored in the student-services side of the university with partnerships in the academic side, and builds on the success of a preexisting program, the Multicultural Student Mentor Program, which for 25 years has increased retention rates of multicultural WSU STEM students by providing them with peer cohorts. From its inception in 2007, TMP has engaged 28 faculty mentors and 92 student mentors. A total of 785 students from underrepresented minority groups have pursued degrees in STEM disciplines. TMP pairs faculty mentors with student mentors who can collaborate and learn from each other on how to best support their mentees both inside and outside the classroom.
A central element of TMP is the training, support, and benefits that faculty and student mentors receive. TMP student mentors receive over 35 hours of training in mentoring, ethics, leadership, and team building before being matched with a faculty mentor and a mentee. Mentees come from diverse backgrounds: of the TMP cohorts from years 2007 through 2013, nearly half were first-generation college students, 84 percent were underrepresented minorities, and nearly half were female.
TMP unmistakably has improved outcomes for STEM students at WSU. Since 2004, the percentage of underrepresented minorities certified in engineering majors at WSU increased by 138 percent. TSP mentees graduate at a rate 7 to 15 percent greater than their invited but non-participating peers, depending on their degree field, with the most marked increases seen in engineering degree seekers (55 percent for non-participants, 70 percent for TSP mentees). TMP's awards and recognitions include the 2010, 2012, and 2014 Boeing Cyber Grant, for which it used the funding to support the program's operations and student research scholarships. In 2015, the TMP Faculty Mentors were honored with the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award.