Source: International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 3 No. 2, 2014, p. 125-140
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article aims to describe a qualitative action research study into the collective experiences of establishing a mentoring culture within a research triad consisting of a university professor together with a doctoral student and a master’s level student who served as research assistants (RAs).
The authors applied the Adaptive Mentorship© model (Ralph and Walker, 2010) to support their effort to create a shared mentoring culture that could facilitate their mutual individual development.
A Faculty of Education within a Canadian university provided the context for the study.
The university professor acted as mentor for both students (the prote´ge´s), and the doctoral student acted as an additional mentor for the master’s student.
The authors used a qualitative action research approach to frame our collective experiences over a seven-month period.
They document how they used a process of ongoing reflection within their mentoring culture to gain insight about their personal selves, their professional selves, the role of being a RA, and concepts, ideas, and frameworks that might be useful in fulfilling our work inside and outside of the collaborative research project.
They completed both the prote´ge´ developmental level sheets and the mentor’s adaptive response sheets.
The authors believe the establishment of the mentoring culture facilitated the identification of individual needs within the triad, which in turn allowed for increased confidence, adaptive support, and appropriate skills development necessary for all members to contribute to the successful completion of the project.
The findings indicate that the exchange and critical analysis of the new knowledge and innovations generated during the process of the research task completion, stimulated a higher level of consciousness about the practice of mentoring and led to co-mentoring and co-learner experiences.
The mentoring culture created a safe environment for the two graduate students to ask questions about the research project without feeling judged.
Although the project was challenging, the mutual support created an environment new skills could be shared, discussed, and confidently applied to the real-life research situation. Developing the mentoring culture resulted in the triad helping each other to reflect upon both individual task completion and that of the remaining triad members.
Furthermore, the mentoring culture allowed the graduate student prote´ge´s to become more proactive in initiating and assertively managing mentoring relationships.
The emphasis on task-specific needs directed by the Adaptive Mentorship© model facilitated this transition, and the master’s student reported feeling increasingly less like a prote´ge´ and more like a co-learner with the doctoral student mentor.
The triad felt that their increased competence and confidence coincided with a deepening of our relationship and trust in their shared ability to complete our project.
The Adaptive Mentorship© model was particularly useful to guide initial discussions about how the triad would accomplish the research project through their individual roles and tasks. In addition, applying the Adaptive Mentorship© model encouraged the triad to reflect upon the relationships with each other, and subsequently assess how they had provided each other with appropriate provision of support and guidance.
The application of the Adaptive Mentorship© model proved to be a valuable tool for supporting the social, competence-based, and experiential needs of the triad.
The authors concluded that the application of the model to graduate RAships with multiple participants might lead to enhancement of working environments and professional growth due to multiple contact-points and exposures to specific tasks or skill-sets around which the work is organized.
Hence, the mentorship models are effective means for developing mentorship process if they promote or function within a culture of mentoring.
The Adaptive Mentorship© model claims to emphasize the needs of both prote´ge´ and mentor.
The experience of the triad suggests that with further refinement, the model may potentially become a valuable tool to support shared or co-mentoring situations through additional focus on the mentor’s developmental needs and appropriate responses from the co-mentoring group.
The use of the Adaptive Mentorship© model demonstrated that providing a synergistic and flexible structure could create a collaborative mentoring environment where a university professor could support RAs to grow and flourish.
Ralph, E.G. and Walker, K. (2010), “Enhancing mentor’s effectiveness: the promise of the Adaptive Mentorshipr model”, McGill Journal of Education, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 205-218.