How Mentors Help At-Risk Students Find Confidence in Themselves and in School
Every school has some population of at-risk students. These students often struggle to maintain passing grades, have truancy records and discipline problems, and are indeed at-risk of losing enrollment in their current schools. Importantly, at-risk students also often have difficult home lives and may experience one-parent households, difficulties associated with poverty, inconsistent adult role models, and insufficient quality time and care from adults.
In their paper, “Making a difference with at-risk students: The benefits of a mentoring program in middle school,” authors Suzanne F. Lindt and Cody Blair note that over the past 20 years, mentoring programs have been increasingly used as a way to support at-risk students. Mentoring programs such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, TEAMmates, Study Buddies, and The Mentoring Project have been shown to not only support students’ socio-emotional wellbeing, but also their academic standing. Lindt and Blair remark, for example, that previous studies have shown that mentored students felt more confident about schoolwork and were significantly less likely to be truant compared to their non-mentored peers (35).
The college years are an exciting time in a student’s life, as they present opportunities for transition, growth, and learning. However, authors Ronny Bruffaerts et al. remark that the college years are also a “peak period for the first onset of a broad range of mental disorders” (97). Indeed, previous studies have revealed that up to 50% of college students may have one or more common mental health problems (97). These students are twice as likely to drop out of college without earning a degree, compared to their peers who do not have mental disorders (97).
In their paper, “Mental health problems in college freshmen: Prevalence and academic functioning,” Bruffaerts et al. examine the pervasiveness of mental health problems in college freshmen and how those mental health problems affect student academic functioning.
Should Students Take Notes on Laptops? Research Says ‘No’.
Given the ubiquity of mobile technologies in today’s society, many teachers are interested in incorporating devices into the classroom setting. This may be through direct use of technology in a lesson plan or by simply allowing students to take notes on laptops in class. In their paper, “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking,” Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer note that although students believe that their use of laptops in class is beneficial overall, students on laptops are generally not on task during lectures (1159). Moreover, students who use laptops in class have decreased academic performance (due to multi-tasking and internet browsing) and actually report being less satisfied with their education than students who do not use laptops in class (1159).
In this paper, Mueller and Oppenheimer posit that, “even when distractions are controlled for, laptop use might impair performance by affecting the manner and quality of in-class note taking” (1159). In particular, laptop use has been linked to verbatim note-taking, since students can type faster than they can write (1160). Compared to students who paraphrase notes, students who type verbatim notes have poorer academic performance.