A new University of Houston research has found a profound impact learning abilities of graduate students when paired with professionals.

The study compiled by Consuelo Waight, associate professor of human development and Mayura Pandit-Tendulkar, associate director of learning for Emeritus Institute of Management at the university finds deeper learning and inspired passion for the work among students who are mentored by professionals.

In the paper, researchers tied to a formal mentoring program for students in a graduate-level course on organization development. It involves leading and executing change, whether that involves the merger of two companies, training new employees or other upheavals.

Researchers asked the students to find a mentor on organization development in the business world and were required to keep a diary of their interactions, thoughts, and insights arising from those interactions.

Students set an agenda and the mentor would share his thoughts on such topics and in some cases even inviting students to company meetings, sharing artifacts among others.

“By taking the students outside the classroom, they saw the relevance and meaningfulness of what they were learning. That motivated them beyond case studies,” said Waight.

The entries in the diary were later used as a dataset to quantitatively demonstrate the impact on students. Authors found out that the experience had helped the students better understand organization development through a deeper understanding of the concept, its wide use throughout organizations; and recognition that the theories taught in class are put into action in the workplace.

Mentoring by Near Peers Improves Research Skills of Doctoral Students