Mentor Education: Challenging Mentors’ Beliefs about Mentoring

May. 15, 2015

Source: International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 4 No. 2, 2015, p. 142-158.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The first purpose of this article is to contribute to the field of mentoring by investigating whether and how university-based mentor education challenges mentors’ beliefs about mentoring.
The second purpose is to explore judge mentoring as a quantitative construct, and to test whether self-efficacy related to their mentor role, role clarity, mentor experience and formal mentor education have influence on beliefs consistent with judge mentoring.

The concept of beliefs consistent with judge mentoring (evaluative or judgemental mentoring) is introduced as a quantitative construct which is then used as a dependent variable. The concept of “folk mentoring” is introduced to theorise why and how mentor education may challenge mentors’ beliefs about mentoring.

Structural equation modelling of cross-sectional survey data is used to estimate and compare the strengths between mentors’ perceived self-efficacy, role clarity, experience and education as independent variables and beliefs about mentoring aligned with judge mentoring as the dependent variable.

The survey was completed by 146 mentors who attended mentor education programmes in universities and university colleges across Norway.

Results and discussion

The findings indicate that mentor education contributes to lower levels of beliefs consistent with judge mentoring and strengthens mentors’ awareness of their role as a mentor. Higher levels of self-efficacy related to the mentor role were associated with stronger beliefs consistent with judge mentoring. Mentor experience was not associated strongly with any tested variable.
The findings indicate that research which claims that experience is important for beliefs about mentoring outcomes should control for mentor education. In this model, the variables mentor education and mentor experience are associated, which indicates that formal education might explain spurious correlations between experience and beliefs about beneficial mentoring.

The authors claim that social exchange theory provides a beneficial framework for understanding judge mentoring as a form of mentoring that hampers the reciprocal exchanges essential for successful mentoring.

Implications for practice

This study contributes to teacher educators' understanding of the factors which influence mentors’ beliefs in judge mentoring. If the associations between the independent and dependent variables represent causal relationships, the authors' findings could have implications for practice. The most important finding is that mentor education might reduce the likelihood of beliefs which may correspond with the practice of judge mentoring.
In addition, mentor education contributes to a better understanding of mentors’ roles. A much debated question related to the implementation of school-based mentoring, is about who is best suited to provide mentoring.

The results indicate that completion of mentor education should be important in the selection of mentors. Mentor education seems to be an antecedent to more desirable mentoring practices, which supports the notion of implementing mentoring education. However, it is important to note that mentor education is negatively associated with self-efficacy related to the mentor role.
There is a growing consensus that beginning teachers need effective mentoring support early in their careers. Therefore, mentor education is important to challenge mentors’ beliefs about how to provide the best support to beginning teachers.

Updated: Dec. 27, 2016