This is the second of two pages which provide a research and knowledge base on the effects of mentoring practices and mentoring program structures on the teaching, professional, and career development success of junior university faculty.
These research reports are listed in one category, because that topic is the major contribution of the report. It should be noted that many reports contribute in multiple areas, so careful review of these reports is warranted.
INDEX FOR PAGE TWO
- A SYSTEM OF SUPPORT
- MENTOR QUALITY
- TEAM MENTORING
- RETENTION AND PROFESSIONAL GROWTH
- MENTORING OUTSIDE OF THE INSTITUTION
- PROGRAM RESULTS
Retaining and professionally developing university junior faculty and graduate students is a critical need, Most of these persons are well prepared with content knowledge, but many are not prepared for the pedagogical challenges nor the transition to a career with so many competing agendas. A further challenge is that this all takes place in institutions with such complex formal and informal, political, and career issues to learn and adapt to.
The subject institution of higher education had responded to the identified needs (stated in the problem) by developing a two level mentoring program structure, one for new faculty and one for graduate teaching assistants. Their hypothesis was that such a program approach would meet protege needs, retain more grad students and junior faculty, and increase the quality of instruction.
This study was done to assess the effectiveness of the two mentoring programs after they had been implemented.
A. The study of the new faculty mentoring program was externally funded;
B. The second part of the study was of newcomers to graduate study, who also served as graduate teaching assistants.
A. Participants described the existing mentoring program as“elaborate”, meaning that they perceived it to be more complex than was needed, useful, or feasible.
B. The most critical factor identified was the need for sustained, involving mentoring relationships that can deliver the best protégés outcomes.
The studies of the new faculty and the graduate teaching assistants mentoring programs both demonstrated that:
- a simpler program was desired, due in part to the demands of time that participation required;
- a revised program should focus on quality mentoring relationships and improved engagement within the pair;
- a revised program should also provide peer group support meetings to increase the number and range of participant sources of support, resources, and guidance.
Editor’s Notes – It is our experience that when program participants in a peer support program want to reduce involvement, they find it awkward to do without hurting their peers, so they frequently state that it is for time-related issues. Time is certainly an issue in higher education. However, we have also found that this can be a “screen” which hides deeper issues, sometimes of a lack of quality in mentoring. This possibility is suggested by the second finding.
Peers often find it hard to state the truth to other peers. In other words , if the mentoring were more effective, practical, and of more benefit to the protégé, then the value of it would lead participants to MAKE the time needed to attain those benefits.
Of course, we do not know if this is the case in this instance, so we offer this for the benefit of readers who may need this interpretation to examine phenomena in their own programs.
Long, V., Benner, S., Hatch, A. and Groenke, S. Mentoring: From Vision to Action. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, New York, NY, Feb 24, 2007. Retrieved online. Dec. 12, 2010 at <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p126938_index.html>
The success of probationary junior faculty is crucial for the success of a university teacher education program. That is why it is becoming more the pattern that universities are using mentoring to increase faculty success in research, in teaching, and in professional and community service. This vision led the subject institution to take the following actions.
Beginning in 1994, Leitzel and Stephens working through the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) begin the University of Tennessee – Knoxville New Faculty Mentoring Program, known locally as Project NExT .** Project NExt is a professional development program for new or recent Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences. It addresses all aspects of an academic career:
- improving the teaching and learning of mathematics;
- engaging in research and scholarship;
- participating in professional activities and service.
Components of the NExT Project include a network of peers and mentors which provide increasing support as the protégés assume these responsibilities. The support provided through this project specifically targets the needs identified by Gordon (1991).** In this sense, the Project is a system of support with several components, each to target specific protégé needs.
1. Orientation – The Dean and Associate Dean for Research and Professional Development meet formally with new faculty at the beginning of the year prior to the University’s official orientation day.
2. The Associate Dean for Research and Professional Development hosts weekly “office hours” open to all probationary faculty to provide easy access for advice, information, or just sharing. Faculty from various departments often meet during the office hours and find common research agendas or even common recreational and other interests.
3. Department Heads follow with departmental orientation usually beginning with the first department meeting.
4. Each new faculty member is assigned a mentor with a shared disciplinary background and shared research agenda as possible.
5. Mentors meet as a group within some departments to share strategies and make sure they are fully informed as to university/college guidelines so that probationary faculty hear a consistent message.
6. The mentor and another faculty person provide a peer review of teaching for each probationary faculty member.
7. Mentors also serve to “say no” for faculty when inappropriate work requests or service assignments come down to the protégé, thereby helping to protect a probationary faculty member’s time but also protecting them from generating a reputation as an uncooperative colleague.
8. Informal Mentoring
- Besides an assigned mentor, probationary faculty are encouraged to consider any colleague an adjunct mentor.
- A list of First Readers is prepared each year which gives faculty a place for review of a paper from a critical friend.
- In the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, a senior faculty member meets regularly with probationary faculty with an agenda ranging from peer review of work to group therapy.
- Peer Support – Within this environment of collaboration, new faculty have formed small writing groups to critique and encourage each others research. The work produced through these groups has an excellent track record for acceptance for publication.
1. The comprehensive support program involves practices have been proven to work together and, as a result, to produce a healthy climate for professional growth and development.
2. The program clearly and consistently communicates high standards for teacher performance.
3. There has been a gradual and significant increase in the number of successful new faculty in the program.
4. The program provides new faculty the support necessary to reach those standards.
Gordon, S. P. 1991. How to help beginning teachers succeed. ASCD: Alexandria. Va.
The authors’ experiences in their own institution of higher education was that there was no consensus around a means to evaluate mentor competence. Without a common definition of the roles and expectations of mentors, there is also no shared basis for selecting, training, or supporting mentors.
This study was undertaken to determine if a common basis for mentor roles and evaluation of MENTOR competence could be established or found.
The study included:
1. a review of the literature;
2. faculty position announcements;
3. requirements for professor tenure.
The mentoring programs studied showed an inconsistent pattern:
- advertisements for higher education jobs increasingly clarify that mentoring students is a job requirement;
- academic institutions increasingly consider a faculty member’s performance as a mentor during promotion and tenure considerations;
- Yet, there is currently no common approach to conceptualizing or evaluating mentor competence.
The authors responded to the need they found by proposing a “triangular” model for mentoring roles. Their concept is that mentoring must reflect the three critical elements of university faculty careers:
1. Quality teaching;
2. Professional research and scholarship for sharing it;
3. Professional service and activities.
In other words, these three elements must be balanced and addressed in mentoring of junior faculty so that those proteges learn from their mentoring experience:
1. how to be effective in each of these roles;
2. how to balance the three roles.
With these three elements defined as effective mentoring for higher education junior faculty, mentor competencies for each element and for balancing all three should be a major consideration in the selection of mentors.
This study used both focus groups of higher education faculty and a semi-structured survey of institutional administrators for data collection. The data collection was focused on participants’ current beliefs related to the effectiveness of varied ways of structuring mentoring.
1. Mentoring specifically addresses significant needs, which leads us to the conclusion that mentoring is needed;
2. The benefits of mentoring new higher education faculty were perceived to be strong for the new faculty, senior faculty mentors, and the institution.
3. A reward system to recognize mentors is important;
4. Time barriers are perceived obstacles to effective mentoring;
5. Inadequate program resources was also a barrier to creating effective mentoring, so these need solutions;
6. One of the biggest program resource barriers was a small pool of trained persons ready to be mentors.
7. Mentoring programs need to be loosely structured and initiated through the departments. **
8. A variety of mentoring structures were identified, including typical one-to-one pairs, two mentors and one protégé, and group mentoring.
9. Each mentoring structure was perceived to have inherent strengths and limitations.
10. The authors proposed “mosaic” mentoring as a solution suited to effectively address all the inherent perceived problems of each format.
11. A mentoring “mosaic” brings together a wide range of individuals in a nonhierarchical relationship, where each member is expected to bring something of value to the network from which others can continuously learn and grow. When a mosaic is developed it provides even greater benefits to the participants and the institution because the diverse strengths of the participants addresses a wider range of needs.
12. A mentoring “mosaic” reduces pressure on an individual mentor to be “ideal faculty member” in research and teaching.
13. A mentoring “mosaic” makes the most of small pools of mentors and limited mentoring time.
The authors investigated the various sources of mentors used by higher education faculty, how these sources influenced both objective evidence and subjective perceptions of career success, and whether the participants used different sources of mentors at different stages of their careers.
To do this the researchers collected data from 430 higher education faculty members, across all ranks, at 2 US research institutions.
- The highest levels of objective career success was found for:
- Assistant professors with mentors from within their same department and similar positions;
- Associate professors with mentors outside their own work place;
- Professors with mentors within their organizations.
- Assistant professors with multiple, concurrent sources of mentors yielded significantly higher levels of both objective and subjective career success than did those with single sources or no mentor.
- Comparison of professorial rank with career stage shows that participants used different sources of mentors at different stages of their careers.
Apparently the research was only designed to discover if persons sought mentors from different sources when they were at different career stages. Sadly, understanding WHY this occurs in such a pattern would not only be more interesting but also more useful for mentoring programs and mentors. Clearly, when one has an internal mentor and seeks another outside their organization, several conclusions are suggested, although none can be confirmed by this research:
- That protégés waited until their second career stage to seek outside mentoring could imply:
- The internal mentors may have met their earliest needs, so no need to change was felt until their needs changed.
- OR, the protégés felt insecure, afraid, or just unable to seek outside mentoring, perhaps due to a lack of a professional network outside their institution.
- Either way, we can also infer that:
- Protégés in mid-career may have had unmet needs during internal organization-sponsored mentoring;
- Mid-career protégés had a sufficient professional network outside their institution from which to seek assistance.
Krute, L., Wepner, S. and Jacobs, S. Can Alumni Mentor-Mentee Programs Strengthen Program Capacity? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, New York, NY, Feb. 22, 2007. Retrieved online 2010-12-21 at <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p142085_index.html>
(Editor’s Notes :
1.This is not strictly a university junior faculty mentoring report. Rather it is a university faculty-to-school faculty program report.
2. Clarification is needed regarding the title of the study. It might be more descriptive to ask, “Can Alumni Novice Teacher Mentor Programs Strengthen Teacher Education Programs?”)
Given that teacher education programs are often seen as responsible for their graduated new teachers’ performance in the classroom, and that mentoring has been shown to be effective for improving the success of beginning teachers, it seems logical for teacher education programs to develop their own mentoring programs. Some teacher education programs are already involved in working with school districts in mentoring and induction programs. However, the literature review done prior to this study revealed that teacher education programs are not offering mentoring programs that specifically target alumni, unless required to do so legislatively.
While involvement in and support of beginning teacher mentoring and induction in schools is certainly helpful to those novice teachers, and by extension to their students and schools, this kind of higher education involvement has not been especially helpful to the teacher education programs. Theoretically, such efforts help achieve the mission of teacher education,. However, without data regarding what is and is not helpful to alumni teachers, such programs cannot know what needs improvement and what is fine as is, and hence, how the university program might be strengthened.
When data are collected, surveys are the most prevalent tool. These appear to have little value in terms of program improvement. The most difficult data to attain is post-graduation, research quality data from alumni about their performance and success.
The Project Under Study
In order to answer the question in the paper’s title, a study of a school-based novice teacher mentoring program called the Alumni Mentoring Guild was undertaken. The program consisted of veteran alumni teachers who served as mentors to alumni beginning teachers (mentees).
A. What is unique was that both the mentors and their mentees were alumni and that it was their alma matter university which conducted the program and did the evaluation.
B. Also unique was the secondary goal of collecting data during the program which would be useful in identifying areas for improvement of the sponsoring university’s teacher education program.
The Alumni Mentoring Guild Program structures include:
1. Each mentor connects with 3 new graduate beginning teachers for a period of a year (renewable) to guide them with the challenges of teaching. The mentees have someone to call or contact when they need information or guidance. Mentors and mentees are in the same certification area, but often are in different schools or even different districts.
2. The mentors must have three years teaching experience and be tenured classroom teachers. They participate in a mentor training on given by two university faculty members. The mentors receive professional development credit for the training, free tuition for one graduate course for the following year, and free admission to selected special events for professional development credit.
3. Mentees receive free mentoring and coaching and online networking with peers. Mentees must have graduated from the college, must be employed full time as a classroom teacher or teacher’s assistant.
4. Mentors and mentees participate for the entire academic year and sign a confidentiality form.
5. The mentor makes the initial contact with the mentees (telephone, e-mail, face-to-face)
6. Mentor-mentee contacts are at least once a month.
7. The mentor must maintain a Communications Activity Log .
8. Both groups participate in three sessions at the College: a kickoff in September, a midyear bash in January, and an end-of-year celebration.
The goals of this study were to:
1. demonstrate how a college or university can implement a successful mentoring program with it’s own alumni serving as mentors and mentees;
2. illustrate how a formal alumni mentoring program can contribute to improving teacher education program effectiveness.
Participants must complete pre, interim, and post academic year assessments. Both qualitative data (through narrative responses and contact logs) and quantitative data (through pre-post self-efficacy scale scores) were used to identify areas of concern to beginning teachers and ways in which the Guild is helping to address those issues.
- The self-efficacy questionnaire is used to show the perceived gains in knowledge and skills of both the mentors and mentees.
- The narrative responses are used to identify issues and assess the value of the Guild for the mentors and mentees.
- The contact logs are used to show the frequency, type, and content of the interaction between the mentors and mentees.
The study of the school-based faculty mentoring program, Alumni Mentoring Guild, demonstrated two general findings of significance:
- A university can implement a successful new teacher mentoring program using only alumni mentors and mentees;
- These alumni contributed to increased perception of university program effectiveness by participants and those from the university who worked with them.
Findings from the questionnaires indicated that mentees gained overall in self-efficacy during the year except in their perceived ability to reach difficult students. Positive changes in perceived self-efficacy for mentees did occur in their ability to:
- work within system constraints
- work with skeptical colleagues
- work with difficult students.
Overall, there was a significant narrowing of the gap in the feelings of self-efficacy between mentees and mentors.
Mentors did lose some confidence in their ability to work with parents, work within system constraints, and work with difficult students. Mentors expressed that their perceived changes were attributed in part to their self-reflective discussions with mentees about and greater focus on some of the challenges associated in these three areas.
Findings from the narrative responses to questions and contact logs indicated that eleven themes emerged.
- The most prevalent themes for mentees were management, instructional planning, and working with parents.
- The most prevalent themes for mentors were management and instructional planning.
These themes were consistent with the themes in the mentors’ contact logs.
The Guild provides a vehicle for tracking and monitoring graduate:
- satisfaction with teaching;
- feelings of competence in the classroom;
- feelings about the extent to which their university teacher education program prepared them for the transition to and challenges of teaching.
These data can help in at least three ways:
- The mentors have feed back which can help them self-assess their mentoring effectiveness and diagnose areas for their improvement.
- The university staff working with the alumni mentoring pairs can use these data to reflect of the need for training of mentors, and/possible protégés to better prepare them to succeed in their mentoring work together.
- Teacher education programs can pinpoint areas that need to be addressed in their curriculum. Specifically, the data collected in this study helped our institution realize the need to include additional information about classroom management, working with colleagues, communicating with parents, and working within the constraints of the school setting.
University Use of the Findings
As a result of these findings, workshops and case studies for the university’s faculty and teacher candidates have been offered on topics such as classroom management, working with parents, working with difficult colleagues, and dealing with system constraints – the areas that proved most difficult for novice teachers.
Discussions have occurred at faculty meetings about ways to revise the curriculum to include these topics in coursework and field experiences.
Some faculty already are revising coursework to include topics such as the politics of working with difficult colleagues and the development of constructive relationships with parents.
“Universities benefit from mentoring because of increased productivity of their faculty, which ensures the greater success of their students.”