Mentoring Expectations and Realities: An Analysis of Metaphorical Thinking Among Female Undergraduate Protégés and their Mentors in a University Mentoring Programme

May. 15, 2008

SourceMentoring and Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, Volume 16, Issue 2 May 2008 , pages 175 - 187

This article describes the differences between mentors' and protgs' expectations and realities regarding mentoring relationships and goals. Faculty and senior undergraduate mentors and female undergraduate protégés who participated in a formal, university mentoring programme at the University of Idaho, organised by the institution's Women's Centre, were asked to describe their ideal and actual mentoring relationship through metaphor; the responses were analysed qualitatively to explore prongs' and mentors' expectations and experiences.

Results indicate that protgs held more traditional and hierarchical mentoring ideals at the beginning of the programme and that most mentoring ideals differed from actual experiences. Given this disparity and because metaphorical processes have the capacity to enhance mentoring experiences due to their generative and expansive capacities, we suggest that metaphors be employed in explicit ways to align expectations and realities between mentors' and protgs' expectations through shared reflection. We conclude with metaphorical exercises that can be used in formal mentoring programmes in higher education to help participants negotiate expectations and help organise relationships in ways that are aligned with the mission and goals of particular mentoring programmes

Updated: Nov. 18, 2008