Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Education and Studies


Agricultural Education and Studies

First Advisor

Michael S. Retallick


The purpose of this thesis research was to explore the personal, career, and academic growth of peer mentors within the College of Agriculture and Life Science (CALS) learning communities at Iowa State University (ISU). This study encompassed four objectives: (1) describe demographic traits of CALS peer mentors; (2) identify how mentors' personal growth is affected by their experiences as a peer mentor; (3) detect mentor career development and growth affected by experience as a peer mentor; and (4) determine academic growth and development affected from experiences as a peer mentor.

For objectives one through four, a census survey was sent to the total population of CALS peer mentors. A total of (n=76) valuable responses were collected during the fall 2019 semester. The results were further analyzed using descriptive statistics and basic understanding of target population demographics.

As findings in the literature have speculated, learning communities and their organizations differ. Objective one provided target population demographics to elevate unknown knowledge of learning community population. Gaining a full understanding of the population at large was critical in order to access development throughout and gain understanding of CALS learning community goals.

Objective two accessed peer mentors personal growth or developed from the peer mentor experience. Mentors (n= 61) stated that the peer mentor experience provided a positive impact to personal growth in three major areas: (1) interpersonal skills; (2) overall confidence; and (3) connection building.

Objective three developed the understanding of career growth developed from the peer mentor experience. Mentors (n=60) stated that the peer mentor experience has a positive impact on their career growth and development through four different areas: (1) gained communication skills in regards to career development; (2) confidence in current and future career endeavors; (3) leadership skills; and (4) networking connections.

Objective four looked at the effect that mentors received in regards to academic growth and development from being a peer mentor. This category posed the most variation in gained qualities from being a peer mentor (n=35). Mentors stated this category had a positive impact on their higher education process and (n= 31) provided insight that there was no impact on academic growth through this program. Those who stated no impact indicated prior academic achievement and knowledge so the teaching of lower level courses did not impact their academic standing.

Hopefully, this study has provided the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Learning Community programs at Iowa State University a better understanding of the level of growth and development of personal, profession, and career areas. This study has also provided a foundation for ISU as well as similar learning community peer mentors and peer mentor coordinators developing future students through growth and development measures.


Copyright Owner

Sarah Ellen Orban



File Format


File Size

131 pages