Introduction: The Eye to Eye mentorship program is a national program in which college or high school students with learning differences mentor middle school students with learning differences. There are 68 Eye to Eye programs around the country, but little research has been done on their effectiveness and how to improve it. We conducted and evaluated one program site at Arizona State University and implemented this mentorship program for the first time during 2019. We hypothesized the Eye to Eye mentorship program that paired college students who have learning differences with middle school students who have similar learning differences would improve the outcomes and socio-behavior skills of both mentors and mentees.
Methods: The Eye to Eye mentorship program assessed involved mentors and mentees who completed 12 in-person art sessions out of the normal 20 in-person sessions. The first main assessment was the BLD (Breger Learning Difference) Feedback Survey addressing one’s experience in the Eye to Eye program and which were completed at the end of the mentorship program and filled out by mentors, mentees, and mentees parents (one parent for each mentee). A total of 12 mentors, 6 mentees, and 6 mentee parents were included in the feedback survey final analysis. The second main assessments were the pre and post Behavior Assessment System for Child, Third Edition (BASC-3) provided to mentors, mentees, and mentees parents (one parent for each mentee). A total of 10 mentors, 5 mentees, and 5 mentee parents were included in pre and post BASC-3 final analysis. Fall 2019 (pre) and Spring 2020 (post) optional interviews involved 5 mentors and 3 mentees who showed interest and were comfortable participating with additional release forms.
Results: The program was generally positively rated in the feedback survey by mentors, mentees, and mentee parents. The highest responses for mentors, mentees, and mentee parents all incorporated average ratings of 4.0 or higher (out of 5.0) for perceived understanding of socio-emotional skills after Eye to Eye, experience in Eye to Eye, how having a mentor or mentee made them feel, and perceived change in self-awareness. All three groups reported fairly high ratings of improved self-awareness of 4.0/5.0 or above. No negative ratings were provided by any participants and the lowest response was no change. The BASC-3 evaluation found statistically significant improvement in mentors’ anxiety and atypicality and mentees’ sense of inadequacy.
Discussion: The Eye to Eye program was popular and well-rated despite only involving 12 in- person one-hour art sessions. The mentors, mentees, and mentee parents felt positive about the Eye to Eye program when answering the feedback survey. Some suggestions are made on how to improve this program to better enhance someone with learning differences future ability to succeed. Future research is needed to assess the true impact due to the COVID-19 epidemic and other limitations.
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