In Québec, nearly 25% of science students and more than 50% of physics students do not complete their college program.
This situation has endured for 20 years and is assuming alarming proportions, considering the continuous increase in the need for specialized labour in various high-tech S&T fields. In order to slow down the loss of S&T students, the Faculty of Educational Sciences at Université Laval, two colleges in the Québec region and several companies and research centres have developed the MIRES program (Mentorat pour l'Intégration et la Réussite des Étudiants en Sciences/Mentoring for the Integration and Success of Science Students). Initial research had already shown the short-term positive impacts of this program (post-intervention) on motivation, certainty of career choice and persistence of young college students in their program of study.
The expansion of the MIRES program throughout the college system is possible.
The present research documented the long-term effects of the program, as well as its contribution to the development of the mentors themselves (university science students). Two years after the start of the program, more male MIRES students were persisting in S&T, while female MIRES students reported higher levels of self-knowledge were more comfortable with indecision and were more motivated to continue their S&T studies than the members of the control group. For their part, the mentors appeared to have a better understanding of themselves and of the labour market than the "twin" group.
The expansion of the MIRES program throughout the college system is possible, but the main challenge to the success of such an operation is convincing decision-makers of the relevance of investing financially in the program. One year of operation costs an average of $757 per protégé; this is not a high price to pay to ensure a new generation of scientists.
Simon Larose, Université Laval
Call for proposals
Deposit of the research report: June 2010