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Stress among peer mentors studied

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Sarah Dunn, associate professor of kinesiology, discusses the influence of tutors’ jobs on their health Feb. 5 in the Executive Dining Room. Dunn’s presentation, titled “Stress and Anxiety in Peer-to-peer Writing Tutors,” compared the stress levels of tutors and their students. She and her colleagues tested student health levels by collecting saliva samples and conducting surveys./ photo by Kayla Salas

Sarah Dunn, associate professor of kinesiology, discusses the influence of tutors’ jobs on their health Feb. 5 in the Executive Dining Room. Dunn’s presentation, titled “Stress and Anxiety in Peer-to-peer Writing Tutors,” compared the stress levels of tutors and their students. She and her colleagues tested student health levels by collecting saliva samples and conducting surveys. / photo by Kayla Salas

Erica Rae Sanchez
Arts Editor 

Peer mentoring is one way the University of La Verne offers help to students, said Sarah Dunn, professor of kinesiology, about her recent study on stress that both the tutor and tutee undergo during a peer mentoring session.

Dunn presented Feb. 5 in the Executive Dining Room for a group of 15 students and faculty members.

Dunn collected data from students at the University of La Verne and the University of Santa Barbara in spring of 2018. She and a group of colleagues took samples of saliva from student tutors to measure the amount of cortisol in their bodies immediately after they woke up.

Her hypothesis was that the tutee’s and tutor’s self-rated stress levels would be significantly related, Dunn said.

The students involved in the study woke up every morning and swabbed the insides of their mouth to measure their salivary cortisol. This measurement was used to gauge the tutor’s stress in the morning and the process was repeated after the tutor had a session, Dunn said.

The tutee would then take a written emotional well-being survey after a session, which would be considered in comparison to the tutor, Dunn said.

After results were checked, the hypothesis was refuted due to resource scarcity during the research process, Dunn said.

Many minor issues interfered with the research process, one being an insufficiency of resources, another being a lack of adequate time to measure each student’s stress before and after the tutoring process.

Andrew Tompkins, sophomore business administration major, is a tutor himself and said the faculty lecture altered his views on tutoring.

“I did not think about that tutors could withhold stress and carry it on and how it could build up as each tutor session progresses,” said Tompkins.

“I think we spend so much time making sure that the tutee is in a comfortable environment, but we should focus on the tutor as well because they can pass on their emotions,” Tompkins said.

Al Clark, professor of humanities, requires his students to attend faculty lectures because presenters often work closely with students and provide valuable information about their own research.

Students and faculty actively engaged in the presentation, asking questions about how tutors were affected.

“The most shocking thing is the impact that tutoring has on the tutors, I was not expecting for it to have a physical and mental drain on them,” Clark said.

Mulan Novilla, senior communications major, said she was taken aback by the amount of emotions one can transfer to another.

“It helped me with my mindfulness towards my own emotions and other people’s,” Novilla said.

Dunn said her research is not yet finished, and will continue to be studied in the following years.

“Like all good research, it showed light on more questions than is actually answered,” Clark said. “That is the whole point of research.”

Erica Sanchez can be reached at erica.sanchez2@laverne.edu.

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