Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Todd Ream

Second Advisor

Skip Trudeau

Third Advisor

Drew Moser

Abstract

Mattering—defined as the “perception that, to some degree and in any of a variety of ways, we are a significant part of the world around us” (Elliott, Kao, & Grant, 2004, p. 339)—is a social-psychological concept that has recently gained traction in higher education. Understanding mattering, college educators believe, could offer new ways to involve students in campus communities, contributing to their well-being and academic success. The present study explored the link between mattering and participating in a mentoring program for first-year students, with emphasis on the experiences of students of color and international students. The study found participating in a mentoring program could have a positive impact on students’ feelings of mattering. In addition, the study explored how students of color and international students perceived mattering relative to their white and domestic peers but found no significant differences between these students’ feelings of mattering and their peers’. Exploring mattering more extensively and in other educational settings could yield new understanding of how to increase students’ sense of belonging in college, which could contribute to student persistence and other positive developments.

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