Intensive Mentoring as a Way to Help Beginning Teachers Develop Balanced Instruction

Mar. 27, 2009

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 60 Number 2, March/April 2009. 112-122.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The study investigates the impact of intensive mentoring as an induction program component aimed at improving teacher quality in ways that link teaching to student engagement. The Atmosphere, Instruction/Content, Management, and Student Engagement (AIMS) measure of teaching practice was used to measure the impact of the intervention. This measure focused on a research-based conception of high-quality teaching known as effective balanced instruction. Using a matched comparison group design, the study tested the effects on teaching practice of intensive mentoring.


Members of the treatment group were 12 first- and second-year teachers in a single midsized, economically depressed, urban district. This group of volunteers included 3 teachers in English (secondary), 3 in mathematics (secondary), 3 in elementary education, 2 in science (secondary), and 1 in special education, with each of the subgroups assigned to an intensive mentor within the subject matter or area of expertise. Twelve other beginning teachers participated in the project as the comparison group, receiving the regular district induction interventions (orientation, after-school seminars, principal seminars) but no “intensive mentor.”

Participants for the treatment and comparison groups were all beginning teachers entering their 1st or 2nd year of teaching. All attended the university-led orientation sessions held before the school year began. Nine of the matched pairs were 1st-year teachers. Two of the secondary mathematics matched pairs were 2nd year teachers. One of the English matched pairs included a 1st-year teacher (treatment) and a 2nd-year teacher (comparison group).

The comparison- and treatment-group participants taught in very similar urban contexts. In the high schools where teachers from both groups taught, free and reduced lunch ranged from 50% to 57% and the percentage of minority students ranged from 57% to 79% of the school population. At the middle school where teachers from both groups taught, free and reduced lunch ranged from 65% to 75%, and percentage of minority students ranged from 62% to 79%. At the elementary level, free and reduced lunch ranged from 51% (where a comparison teacher taught) to 91% (where a treatment teacher taught). The percentage of minority students ranged from 50% to 81%.

Findings indicate that the improvement in the beginning teachers’ AIMS scores from fall to spring was greater for the experimental group than for the comparison group of teachers.

Updated: Mar. 25, 2009