Mentor Groups Education

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Evaluating the Use of Mentor Groups in Primary Education

Evaluating the Use of Mentor Groups in Primary Education


Mentoring, defined as a relationship of instruction and guidance, typically occurs between a more experienced person (the mentor) and a less knowledgeable person (the mentee or protégé). Examples include skilled worker and apprentice, teacher and student, and expert and novice. Evaluation of mentoring has been conducted across several venues, most often in either workplace or academic settings. Although there is no universal agreement or concise definition of a mentor, there is agreement about what functions are necessary to fulfil the mentoring role.

Kram (1988) suggested that mentoring should incorporate “those aspects of a developmental relationship which enhance both individuals' growth and advancement” (p. 22). Therefore, mentoring is conceptualized as positive and beneficial for the mentor and the mentee. Kram further proposed two categories of mentoring functions: psychosocial and career. Psychosocial functions include such mentoring activities as role modelling, acceptance and confirmation, counselling, and friendship. Such activities are expected to aid mentees to develop their potential and the confidence to achieve this potential. Psychosocial functions operate at the interpersonal level and are relational in nature, centring on notions of mutuality, trust, and enhancement. Career functions, on the other hand, include activities such as sponsorship, coaching, and introducing the mentee to others. These functions operate at social systems levels (e.g., schools, neighbourhoods). They serve to help the mentee enter into and move successfully though the organisational structures he or she may encounter.

Mentoring has been an effective way to influence child behaviour. Specifically, investigators find that mentors may influence aspirations and enhance career development at almost every stage (Jones, Bibbins, & Henderson, 1993; Kram, 1988). Because of the apparent benefits, many human resource managers now attempt to establish formal mentoring systems in which mentors and protégés are brought together systematically. Primary educational programmes also have increasingly incorporated mentoring as a desirable feature. Mentors groups in primary education have been shown to raise levels of self-esteem, increase self-motivation, and instil a desire to achieve.

An important source of information in current comprehensive teacher evaluation systems is the use of pupil reports. This study presents an extension of the use of the Primary Grade Pupil Report (Driscoll, Peterson, Crow, & Larson, 1985) to administration in preschool settings. Three hundred eighteen students in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade responded to the instrument and reported on their teachers. Reliabilities indicated that students at all grade levels responded to the dimensions of teacher quality which the instrument was designed to measure. Responses of preschool students were more negative about teachers than responses of kindergarten and first grade students. A factor analysis was conducted and used to identify different significant factors for preschool students and for kindergarten/first-grade students. Findings are explained by developmental and experiential differences.

One outgrowth of the current educational reform climate is a renewed focus of attention to and development of the evaluation of teaching. Those states and districts, which have pursued teacher assessment over an extended period of time through collaborative ...
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