This project proposes a mentoring model, the Social Proximity of Mentorship (SPM), that centers mentor-mentee relationships between advanced undergraduate near-peer mentors and lower-level undergraduate students. Based on the SPM model, the main objective is to demonstrate the utility of a scalable undergraduate mentor-mentee relationship program that yields positive STEM outcomes via social psychological closeness, relationship comfort, and psychosocial support among both mentees and mentors. The SPM model proposes that mentor-mentee relationship processes and outcomes are bidirectional. The academic and career status proximity between upper-level and lower-level undergraduate students should promote mutual feelings of psychological closeness and relationship comfort, which presents a unique opportunity for strong psychosocial support. These relationship factors buffer situational threats stemming from numeric underrepresentation, cultural stereotypes, and bias that, in turn, uniquely undermine STEM belonging and identity. The project’s specific aims are (1) to show that URG mentees and mentors assigned to a near-peer relationship, compared to a faculty relationship, will report stronger psychological closeness, relationship comfort, and psychosocial support, and (2) to demonstrate that URG mentees and mentors assigned to the near-peer mentorship condition will exhibit stronger STEM belonging, identity, performance, and persistence gains across three-time-points, compared to URG students assigned to the control conditions. To meet these goals, a longitudinal experiment will track mentor-mentee relationships among undergraduate near-peers, faculty-undergraduate mentorship, a control group of upper-level students, and a control group of lower-level students across two semesters. STEM-related psychological processes and performance outcomes will be measured in both undergraduate mentors and mentees. The ultimate goal is to establish a scalable mentorship program with URG students that could be implemented across higher education institutions.

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