From Diversifying Economic Quality: A Wiki for Instructors and Departments
Mentoring, by both peers and faculty, is crucial
Peer mentoring has been used as a tool to increase the retention rates of underrepresented students in a range of academic fields. "Differences in ethnic cultural values and socialization; internalization of stereotypes; ethnic isolation and perceptions of racism; and inadequate program support" (Good, Halpin, and Halpin, 2000) are all factors that contribute to the difficulties underrepresented students endure in academic fields like economics.
The implementation of peer and faculty mentoring programs can alleviate issues which typically cause the attrition rates of underrepresented students to be high. Mentoring promotes greater student/faculty contact, communication and understanding, can encourage the use of university resources designed to aid students with nonacademic problems, promotes prompt interventions with academic difficulties, and creates a culturally validating atmosphere for students. In particular, studies have shown that same-gender or same-race mentorship is particularly effective at increasing student's feelings of self-efficacy, academic motivation, and interest in a subject (Asgari, Dasgupta, and Cote, 2010)
Peer and faculty mentors, through personal connections and one on one understanding, allow underrepresented students to feel comfortable in an otherwise uncomfortable academic environment.
Asgari, S., Dasgupta, N., & Cote, N. (2010). When does contact with successful ingroup members change self-stereotypes?: A longitudinal study comparing the effect of quantity vs. quality of contact with successful individuals. Social Psychology. 41:3, 203-211.
Campbell, Toni A., and David E. Campbell. "Faculty/Student Mentor Program: Effects on Academic Performance and Retention." SpringerLink. Research in Higher Education. Web. 1 Nov. 2011. <http://www.springerlink.com/content/v21t781257134158/export-citation/