Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/Advisor

Havice, Pamela

Committee Member

Cawthon , Tony

Committee Member

Hallenbeck , Douglas

Committee Member

Livingston , Wade


This study used Strauss and Corbin's (1998) grounded theory model to describe and explain the stories of residents' interactions with their peer mentor, in a health, education, and human development living-learning community (LLC). The question answered in this study was: What is the impact of the interaction between a peer mentor and residents within a living-learning community? Two sub-questions were asked: (1) How does the peer mentor affect the living-learning community members academically? and (2) How does the peer mentor affect the living-learning community members socially?
The LLC had 43 residents, a resident director, an academic coordinator, and one peer mentor. For this study, 14 students, the peer mentor, the resident director of the building, and the academic coordinator for the LLC were interviewed. The participants were first emailed and then from the responding students the researcher used snowball sampling to identify other participants. Data was gathered through in depth, semi-structured interviews, documents important to the LLC or peer mentor position, and observations by the researcher at activities and programs. Interview questions were created from the theoretical frame work of Greenleaf's (1996) servant leadership theory and Kohlberg's (1981) cognitive moral development theory. Data collection and analysis happened concurrently using Strauss and Corbin's (1998) grounded theory procedures which included microanalysis, open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. The grounded theory for LLC residents' interactions with their peer mentor is described and explained through the words of the participants along with a visual model of this explanation.
The researcher discovered three emerging themes from the data: (1) characteristics of the peer mentor, (2) environments of the living-learning community, and (3) decision making. The researcher found the residents' interaction with the peer mentor enhanced the decision making of the residents. The characteristics and the environment created provided an avenue for the students to process decisions from a day-to-day basis as well as with the future in perspective. Not all the residents interacted with the peer mentor on a daily basis but explained they knew if they needed the peer mentor then she would be there for them. The peer mentor characteristics' along with the environment helped the students make decisions to benefit them academically and socially.



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