Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



This mixed method research was designed to examine the effects of cross-age mentoring in an inter-institutional online learning community. The research questions focused on the impact of mentoring on high school students’ confidence in their information seeking skills, perceptions of their information seeking standards, and the application of these standards to an information seeking task. Also of interest was the dialogic interaction between the students at the two sites, the impact of the facilitator on the process, and the university students’ perceptions about their experience. The participants included 26 students (mentees) enrolled in an American history class at a rural high school and 18 pre-service teachers (mentors) enrolled in an introductory educational technology course. Mentoring groups comprised of four-five high school students and three-four pre-service teachers interacted via a synchronous online courseware system. Both classes met at the same time of the day, twice weekly, allowing for synchronous interactions. The project was implemented over a five week period during which pre- and post-tests of information seeking confidence and standards were administered and students were engaged in their information seeking tasks. During the course of the project the online interactions were archived and saved for later analysis. Results revealed that there was no change in the high school students’ confidence in their information seeking abilities. The assessment of their evaluative standards revealed that they became more aware of the importance of evaluating the accuracy of information they located. In addition, a positive correlation was found between their understandings of the importance of evaluating information to determine its relevance to the task at hand and the disposition toward a more expert approach to seeking information. Performance on the information seeking task was positively influenced by conceptual scaffolding provided by both the facilitator and the pre-service teachers. Feedback that encouraged the high school students to consider conceptual issues was discovered to be most effective. The findings from this research contribute to the literature on cross-age mentoring between higher education and K-12 students as well as providing insights about strategies that influence students’ abilities to locate, evaluate, and synthesize information.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

S. Kim MacGregor



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Education Commons