CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


College of Engineering and Computing


Gertrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Committee Member

Steven R. Terrell


E-mentoring, Higher education, Mobile technology in education, Nontraditional student persistence, Peer mentoring, Students with children


The original goal of this project was to build a peer e-mentoring program for parents and measure the effect of the program on persistence. In spite of strong mentor participation, two terms of focused recruiting did not attract mentees. This sparked the question of why those who had successfully navigated the higher education system thought a peer e-mentoring program was needed but those in the process did not. A focused ethnography was designed to try to understand why students with children were resistant to peer e-mentoring. Students with children used technology to integrate the various roles of life. They used smart phones to organize, schedule, and research. They used them to schedule rides or childcare for children, communicated with professors and classmates, reviewed course resources, and whatever else they needed to communicate about. They solved problems by taking them one at time and planning for emergencies with contingencies. These students considered planning their best defense against failing to reach to graduation. They realized establishing and keeping communication lines open was critical. The turned most often to family for help but would reach out to professors and even staff if needed. They looked for professors who were known to go above and beyond for their students just in case they needed to reschedule exams or assignments. The overwhelming consensus about participation was that they just can’t see how it is possible make another commitment. Two mentor participants agreed to be interviewed and shared thoughts about privacy concerns but were willing to take the chance to help ease the way for another student parent. The students with children interviewed expressed the need to find solutions to constantly changing requirements but were not comfortable sharing their problems in a one to one mentoring program. Previous studies have suggested that implementing solutions for non-traditional students required a focused needs assessment. Many programs designed to increase retention for non-traditional students have resulted in exactly the results this one originally faced, a lack of participants or low results. Ultimately these students need just in time solutions for a changing myriad of road blocks to graduation.