Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Impact of Mentoring in Higher Education

Higher education isn't known for having strong mentoring programs.  Mentors provide a valuable service to organizations by helping them develop talent that far exceeds the technicalities earned through training courses. Mentors can act as guides that encourage not only greater thinking but also proper socialization to the academic world. Research supports the idea that mentoring can help students and professors achieve higher levels of performance.

Performance is about perspective. People must see the value in the work they do as personally valuable to them. Mentors can help the employee get a grasp on defining what behaviors lead to the highest opportunities for personal success by tapping their natural inclinations toward certain goals. As a person works through issues they are likely to become more focused in their efforts.

Mentoring gets people to envision possibilities of success by finding paths that help them achieved desired outcomes. The relationship offers an opportunity for the participants to share their ideas and receive valuable feedback. As the connections between motivation, action, and outcome become solidified, performance behavior improves.

A study of young tenured professors found that mentoring led to improvements in obtaining grants, positive impression of the workplace, and the quality research (van der Weijden, Belder & van Arensbergen, 2015). The nature of higher education is complex and significant "thinking" work must be engaged in to fulfill the roles of the position. A mentor can help guide professors to navigate this complex field.

Students benefit from mentor relationships with advanced peers that can guide them in their academic pursuits. According to a study of peer matching between advanced students and entry level students performance on grades and the number of classes passed improved for those who were involved in the program (Leidenfrost, Strassnig, and Scutz, 2014).

Having a guide helps professors and students work through issues and stay focused on important tasks. What they might have eventually learned through trial and error can now bounced off of their mentors to come to new insights quickly. Learning curves speed up while wasted search behavior declines helping participants grow as quickly as possible.

As a person who seeks to understand the benefits of mentors I must wonder they have an impact on student and professor retention, Having someone to talk with and the benefits of reduced frustration could help universities retain high quality talent and lower drop out rates. Mentoring may hold promises as a more integrated and proactive form of management for professors and as a way of creating a sense of community among students.

Leindenfrost, B., Strassnig, B. & Barbara, S. (2014). The impact of peer mentoring on mentee academic performance: is any mentoring style better than no mentoring at all? International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 26 (1).

van der Weijden, I., Belder, R. & van Arensbergen, P. (2015). How do young tenured professors benefit from a mentor? Effects on management, motivation and performance. The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 62 (2).

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