SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Students mentoring students at Wittenberg University is a win-win situation for both the peer mentors and students seeking to improve their academic performance, and Wittenberg’s Xi Phi Chapter of the Lambda Pi Eta National Honor Society (LPH) for Undergraduates in Communication is no exception. The chapter recently received recognition for its peer mentoring program in the February 2005 issue of Spectra, the National Communication Association’s (NCA) official newsletter, which is circulated among more than 6,000 communication researchers, teachers and professionals.
A column titled “Undergraduate Update” by Liz Van Lysal of NCA singled out Wittenberg’s chapter of LPH as one of four chapters around the nation making a difference on its campus. According to Matthew J. Smith, associate professor of communication and department chair, the program has appeal to other schools because it’s something other students could jump-start at their universities.
“This is a student innovation and is entirely student-managed,” Smith said. “The faculty is delighted to step back and let our brightest and best take on this leadership role.”
LPH is the official communication studies honor society of the National Communication Association (NCA). As a member of the Association of College Honor Societies, LPH has nearly 400 active chapters at four-year colleges and universities worldwide. Founded in 1985 at the University of Arkansas, LPH became a part of the National Communication Association (NCA) in 1988 and the official honor society of the NCA in July 1995.
LPH aims to recognize, foster and reward outstanding scholastic achievement in communication studies, stimulate interest in the field of communication, promote and encourage professional development among communication majors, provide an opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas in the field of communication, establish and maintain closer relationships between faculty and students, and explore options for graduate education in communication studies.
Initiated last year by 2004 graduate Laura Russell, now the assistant director of Wittenberg’s Oral Communication Center, the innovative program utilizes peer mentors to provide services to students who have declared the communication major and are taking foundation courses. The volunteer peer mentors must be upper-class communication majors with 3.25 grade point averages in the major.
An induction ceremony on March 17 welcomed new members Brian McCoach of New Concord, Ohio, class of 2006; Kari Wilson of Indianapolis, Ind., class of 2005; and Lauren Wilson of Loveland, Ohio, class of 2006. The three joined current members Christina Dierkes of Springfield, Ohio, class of 2005 and honorary president; Debbie Adams of Beavercreek, Ohio, School of Community Education; Aubrey Anderson of Northbrook, Ill., class of 2005; Lauren Batzer of Gahanna, Ohio, class of 2005; Kylie Evans of Morgantown, W.Va., class of 2006; Emily Figel of Fort Wayne, Ind., class of 2005; and Laura Lachman of Hudson, Ohio, class of 2006.
LPH peer mentors have had classroom experience with the professors and are available to answer questions and address concerns that new students to the major may have. They also read papers, assist in presentation preparation and provide other support to ensure the success of those beginning in the major.
“Although we have no mechanism to formally assess the program, we are pleased with the willingness of our majors to adopt an attitude that allows them to make a contribution to the success of their peers,” Smith said.
— Phyllis Eberts