The Problematic Context of Mentoring: Evidence from an English Language Teaching Department at a Turkish University

Feb. 10, 2011

Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 34, No. 1, February 2011, 43–59.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study is to investigate the participants’ perceptions and experiences about the concepts of ‘mentor’ and ‘mentoring’.

Data collection method and analysis
Six English Language Teaching Department (ELT) students, who were in the final year of their training and one English teacher who was the subject mentor (English language) of the students at the practice school participated in the study in the spring semester of the academic year 2007-2008.

In this research, a qualitative case study methodology was employed.
Data were collected through the post-teaching journals kept only by the faculty students after each teaching experience, debriefing meeting notes taken only by the faculty tutor (the researcher), and semi-structured interviews of the faculty students and the mentor.

Conclusion and discussion

The findings demonstrate that the faculty students identified timing, management, planning, activity and material choice, lack of background information, use of English for instructions, and inadequate time for preparation as problems in teaching.
The students conveyed that they had to cope with these problems through omitting an activity or some part of it, and a teaching material, repeating the previous subject and the new input, use of native language (Turkish), and having to raise their voice to the pupils.

The students also found mentoring useful, particularly in putting theory into practice, and working in an authentic teaching environment. However, the students obviously needed more critical, constructive, structured, and immediate assistance and feedback for their survival stage of teaching, which is an important responsibility of a mentor (Hudson 2007; Schmidt 2008).

Besides these, the students were also aware of the problematic aspects of mentoring such as unhelpful and discouraging mentors and uncooperative school management. The students addressed these problems with solutions such as developing mentor selection and evaluation criteria or programmes and mutual communication between faculties and schools.

The author recommends that teacher educators must be prepared to work with school teachers on a regular and sustained basis – and for that to happen there must be a good communication between schools and university departments.

Hudson, P. 2007. Examining mentors’ practices for enhancing pre-service teachers’ pedagogical development in mathematics and science. Mentoring and Tutoring: Partnership in
Learning 15
, no. 2: 201–17.
Schmidt, M. 2008. Mentoring and being mentored: The story of a novice music teacher’s
success. Teaching and Teacher Education 24: 635–48.

Updated: Jan. 02, 2012