The Blue Devil Buddies Program: Preliminary Evaluation and Suggestions for Future Research in Support of Undergraduate Student Wellbeing at Duke University
By Ishika Gupta, Nicole Izquierdo, Kiran Sundar, Victoria Wang
Department of Psychology, Duke University
Duke University recently established the Blue Devil Buddies (BDB) program, a two- semester peer mentorship that pairs first-year students with upperclassmen to facilitate a smooth transition from high school to college. This study examined the efficacy of the program by measuring the psychological well-being and sense of belonging of students before and after the program. Although the initial hypotheses were not supported, there was a significant interaction effect of participation in the BDB program on psychological well-being, F(1, 54) = 3.116, p = 0.083,η2 = 0.043, and sense of belonging, F(1, 54) = 8.888, p = 0.004, η2 = 0.091. The semester of participation (either Fall 2020 or Fall 2021) did have a significant effect on psychological well-being scores, F(1, 36) = 4.153, p =0.049, η2 = 0.081; however, there was no significant interaction effect of semester and time on psychological well-being, F(1, 36) = 2.263, p = 0.141, η2 = 0.012. Although there were no significant effects of semester on sense of belonging, F(1, 36) = 0.811, p = 0.374, η2 = 0.012, there was a significant interaction effect of semester and time on post-program sense of belonging scores, F(1, 36) = 6.435, p = 0.016, η2 = 0.059. The lack of effects indicates that a subsequent study with a much larger sample size must be conducted before any definitive conclusions about the program can be drawn. Nonetheless, the results hint at the possibility that the BDB program may attract students who are already thriving socially and mentally. Thus, this study lays the groundwork for future studies to investigate whether the program effectively identifies and supports the students who need peer mentorship the most.