Mentoring for Early childhood teachers research Report 2012

APPENDIX B: Empirical research on mentoring in Schools

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APPENDIX B: Empirical research on mentoring in Schools

Author(s), year, title of article/ chapter/ book

Mentoring context (EC or other)

Theoretical framework

Overview of research evidence

Intended outcomes; were they achieved?

Principles/components as suggested by the paper that can inform the development of effective mentoring programs

Included in synthesis?

Feiman-Nemser, 2001, Helping novices learn to teach: lessons from an exemplary support teacher

Schools - Michigan, USA

Educative mentoring (Feiman-Nemser, 1998) – builds on Dewey’s (1938) concept of educative experiences, which are experiences that promote future growth and lead to richer subsequent experiences.

Educative mentoring is in contrast to more conventional approaches that emphasize situational adjustment, technical advice and emotional support (Little, 1990). The promise of mentoring lies not in easing novices’ entry into teaching, but in helping them confront difficult problems of practice and use their teaching as a site for learning.

Follows the mentoring activities of one particularly thoughtful mentor (Pete Frazer) as an example of what is possible (rather than what is probable).

Data is based on 10 hours of interview data, 10 hours of observational data gathered over 4 visits in 2 years.

To understand the mentoring work of thoughtful mentors;

To understand the ‘insides’ of their mentoring and its influence on novices and their teaching;

To develop and understand mentoring as an educational practice.

- Mentor as co-thinker, rather than expert, by engaging in ‘productive consultations’: to know what beginning teachers are thinking about an issue.

- Mentor as an ‘educational companion’ to novices, offering personal support and professional perspectives tailored to individual needs and purposes.

Strategies in mentoring:

- finding openings: finding fruitful topics salient to the novice and lead to basic issues that all teachers think about;

- pinpointing problems: using the notion that problems are constructed rather than given, problems must be pinpointed or identified;

- noticing signs of growth: specific feedback about individual accomplishments, unique strengths and needs, rather than general praise;

- focusing on the learning of the children;

- reinforcing on understanding of theory;

- giving living examples of one person’s ways of teaching;

- modelling wondering about teaching.

Mentors (support teachers) need to undergo training so as to:

- learn how to support beginning teachers

- learn to be more direct

- broaden ideas about teaching children

Holloway, 2001, The benefits of mentoring

Schools – California, USA

Cites two model mentoring programs: the California Formative Assessment and Support Systems for Teachers (CFASST) and Pathwise (a formal induction process developed by the Education Testing Service for prospective teachers and their mentors)

Prospective mentors need to undergo training that includes:

- professional development about the mentoring process

- understanding what is expected of them as mentors

- support and opportunities to discuss ideas, problems and solutions with other mentors

Yes, but only for its synthesis of the benefits of mentoring for the mentors

Orland, 2001, Reading a mentoring situation: one aspect of learning to mentor

Schools – Israel

Mentoring of teachers of English as a Foreign Language in Israel who are from a Russian background by a star teacher of English.

Follows on mentor involved in a comprehensive intervention that involved the entire educational system in 30 localities in Israel, selected because of low educational achievement and high dropout rates

The idea of teachers as teacher educators and moving more of teacher education into field settings (schools) and assigning roles to school teachers as teacher educators, supervisors and mentors in those settings.

Follows one mentor (of Anglo-Saxon background) in Israel as she mentors 14 teachers of English as a Foreign Language, both novice and experienced, from both elementary and high school, to teach in a holistic manner. Many of the teachers are new Russian immigrants, who arrived in Israel as experienced teachers of English in Russia, but using Grammar Translation approaches in streamed classes according to students’ achievements.

The mentoring program became an intervention project geared towards inducting immigrant teachers into the school system in Israel to use communicative approaches to teaching English and to work in collaboration, or reflecting on their practices, in the company of peers.

The study is meant to shed light on the process of learning to mentor as it develops over time – the character, process and consequences of mentoring from the perspective of the mentor and in relation to their occupational contexts.

Followed two mentors over their entire first year of mentoring, but only one mentor’s data is reported in this paper.

The meaning of ‘reading a mentoring situation’ (as described by the mentor) – its use an organising metaphor to describe the forms and meanings of learning to mentor.

‘Reading a mentoring situation’ entails 5 themes:

(1) transferring the mentor’s assumptions as a teacher to the mentoring context;

(2) comparing different mentoring contexts;

(3) analysing how systemic conditions affect mentoring;

(4) developing awareness of how the mentor’s own educational views influences her mentoring agenda; and

(5) analysing how interpersonal, organisational and professional aspects of the mentoring context operate integratively.

The transition from experienced teacher to a mentor of teachers is similar to the developmental stages of a novice teacher.

Yes, for its perspective on a start (experienced, exemplar) teacher mentoring experienced teachers who need ‘coaching’ to improve their practice (useful for analysis/ evaluation of Victorian coaching programs

Certo, 2005a, Support, challenge and the two-way street: perceptions of a beginning second grade teacher and her quality mentor

Elementary (primary) school – Virginia, USA

A case study of one mentoring dyad: a beginning teacher and her mentor – both second-grade teachers in an urban elementary school in Virginia, USA

Daloz (1988, 1999): support is the act of ‘holding’ or providing a safe space where the beginning teacher can contact the mentor with fundamental trust; challenge is giving resources that raise questions about beginning teachers’ views and invite them to entertain alternatives.

Case study is extracted from a larger study of beginning elementary teachers and their mentors.

Data - interviews conducted with mentor and mentee 3 times (September, December and February of the US school year); mentee journal

Analysis – activities divided into: supportive, challenging or two-way/reciprocal (each party learning and taking ideas from each other)

For teacher-mentors to learn from this case study; for teacher-educators, policy-makers, administrators and prospective mentors to become aware of the tremendous amount of time, energy and requisite skills are required to become a quality mentor.

Support provided by mentor to the mentee included:

- checking in (e.g., asking at the end of the day, “How was your day?”

- listening

- reassuring

- providing information,e.g., nuances of curriculum and instruction, explanations of rules, expectations and procedures, and system-wide policies

- providing structure – e.g., managing workload and paperwork

- mentor sharing instructional resources and supplies with mentee

Challenges include:

- planning together

- developing assessments

- inviting experimentation

- providing insight and feedback

- questioning/ encouraging reflection

Two-way street (reciprocal learning):

- mentoring contributes to the mentor’s own professional development,

- reduces feelings of isolation for the mentor

- triggers reflection of the mentor’s own practice

- mentor also learns from the protege

The dyad referred to a mentorship handbook to guide their mentoring process in terms of target goals.

Yes – what the process of mentoring entails

Certo, 2005b, Support and challenge in mentoring: a case study of beginning elementary teachers and their mentors

Elementary (primary) schools – Virginia, USA

Involved first year teachers

Daloz’ support and challenge model (1999):

  • support means keeping the protégé where they are in their development (not pushing them to develop or grow) and includes listening, providing structure, answering questions and serving as advocate

  • challenge means challenging the protégé to think or act differently about teaching, and includes giving them facts and observations, insights and perceptions, and theories and interpretations that raise questions about their current views

Case study design that involved in-depth interviews with three pairs of beginning elementary school teachers and their mentors (3 interviews over 6 months). Participants were selected based on which pairings were likely to be successful. Mentoring had to have a formal mentorship plan and the mentor had at least 2 days of training.

To a certain extent, yes. That is, in the 3 cases, there was the potential for mentoring to foster effective teaching through multiple activities. There was also some ‘challenge’ and not just ‘support’ during the mentoring.

Mentor training programs should include developing mentor questioning skills and encouraging reflection in beginning teachers.

Mentoring programs should also include time for beginning teachers to observe their mentors – i.e., inclusion of ‘modelling’ as a mentoring activity.


Lindgren, 2005, Experiences of beginning teachers in a school-based mentoring program in Sweden

Schools –Sweden

In Sweden, mentoring for beginning teachers has been ‘a frequent feature of support since 2001’

Research conducted in Umea, northern Sweden, which has had a mentoring program for new teachers since 2001

Mentoring as a transition from student-teacher (preservice) to being a teacher

Data taken from the 2002 cohort.

25 newly-recruited teachers were offered a mentor, but were not obligated to receive mentoring. Pupils of these teachers were aged 7-16. Only 10 out of the 25 were selected to be interviewed for this study. Only 7 actually participated (5 women and 2 men).

Mentors were experienced teachers, trained for mentoring by a course in a university for a half-year.

Dyads were expected to meet once a week or every other week during the school year, with additional mentor and mentee group meetings.

Interviews with teachers were conducted four times: at beginning and end of school year, and twice during the year. Only the last interview is included as data in the paper.

To find the most apparent effects of mentoring from the participants’ perspective.

Mentees recommended the following improvements for future mentoring programs:

(1) the aim of the mentoring must be clearly defined for all participants

(2) mentors must be whole-heartedly motivated

(3) mentees must take responsibility for a productive mentorship

(4) mentor discussions must address mentees’ concerns

Researchers noted that pedagogical discussions occurred to a low degree – future mentoring programs must emphasise educational discussions.

A facilitator is needed to oversee the mentees’ mentoring experience to ensure there are no communication problems between mentor and mentee.

Mentees reported positive results overall – both professionally and personally – and would recommend mentoring to other teachers.

Awareness of goals and expectations should facilitate the mentoring process.


Orland-Barak & Rachamin, 2009, Simultaneous reflections by video in a second-order action-research-mentoring model: lessons for the mentor and the mentee

Schools (elementary) – Israel

Draws from the literature on reflection, mentoring, and the use of video: an action research – mentoring model for mentoring student teachers.

Reflective practice as a component of teacher education (Korthagen, 1995; Orland-Barak & Yinon, 207; Van Manen, 1991)

Video offers a mode of ‘delayed reflection’ – with an opportunity for detachment from the immediate experience, which allows for a deeper analysis and reflection (Eraut, 1995)

Two levels of video-taping used:

- Video-taping of mentee during teaching – used for reflection during mentoring session

- Video-taping of mentoring session – used to prompt mentor to reflect on her mentoring practices

Data also included:

- transcribed mentoring conversations

- journals by both mentor and mentee

- observations of the mentee while teaching

-video recording of the mentee while teaching

- interviews with the mentee

The study examined the forms and meaning that reflection on learning takes through the use of different forms of reflection, in particular, the use of video:

- reflections on learning to teach (for the mentee)

- reflections on learning to mentor (for the mentor)

- Reflective mentoring allows the mentee to shape her own process of mentored learning (i.e., empower the mentee to shape her own learning)

- Reflective mentoring means combining guidance with facilitation

- Reflective mentoring extends the mentors’ cycle of learning

-Reflective learning allowed for reciprocal learning

- There are reciprocal connections between learning to teach and learning to mentor (a double loop)

- Video as a reflective tool allowed for new angles of observation into learning to teach and learning to mentor

- Video allows for critical self-examination

Yes – on the use of video as a tool for reflective teaching and reflective mentoring

Clark & Byrnes, 2012, Through the eyes of the novice teacher: perceptions of mentoring support

Schools (elementary) – a Rocky Mountain state, USA

In the Rocky Mountains, it is mandated that all novice teachers are assigned to a mentor

Socio-cultural theory (Vygotsky, 1978) – on how adults develop professional knowledge: knowledge is not merely transmitted from one person to another but is socially constructed through interactions with other individuals, and through the use of cultural tools, artefacts and experiences.

Also based on theories of transformational leadership (Kouzes & Posner, 2008) – that is, transformational administrators (school principals) must put in place resources that support the transformation.

Of the target group of teachers (n=341, first-year elementary teachers in a larger study), 136 participated in the Mentoring Support Survey, which asked questions regarding their first year experience. The respondents were 75% female and 84% white.

(The authors noted that the length of the survey instrument and busyness of new teachers contributed to the low participation rate.)

There were 2 research questions investigated:

(1) The study was meant to investigate the types of mentoring support received by novice teachers. The survey asked the teachers what support they received and to rate the effectiveness of these supports. See findings in column on right.

(2) Also investigated was the helpfulness of supportive administrators of the mentoring program (the ones who provided resources in the school to support mentoring, e.g., release time for common planning and mentor/mentee observations).

Most frequent support provided were also most helpful:

(1) mentor being a good listener

(2) mentor encouraging the novice teacher during times of self-doubt.

Mentor-modelled professional behaviour when communicating with parents – rated helpful but only 76% of novices received this type of support.

Mentoring activities rated helpful but least likely to occur:

(1) assistance with teaching content and planning units

(2) providing a bridge to existing school culture

(3) modelling effective techniques of instruction

Least helpful and least likely to occur:

1) encouragement to self-assess teaching practices

2) modelling reflective teaching by examining and questioning teaching practices.

The findings suggest that novice teachers may find emotional support and direct information and assistance more useful than engaging in reflective conversations with their mentors.

As to research question (2), novice teachers perceived their experiences with mentors were more likely to occur and more helpful if there were administrative support for the mentoring program, which included:

(1) common planning time for mentor and mentee

(2) release time for observation.

Common planning time is more important than release time.

Yes, in particular that beginning teachers appreciate emotional mentoring support (such as a listening ear and encouragement during self-doubt) than reflective conversations about practices. This probably reflects the fact that teachers are in ‘survival mode’ during their first year, and their need to be socialised into the profession.

LoCasale-Crouch, Davis, Wiens & Pianta, 2012, The role of the mentor in supporting new teachers: associations with self-efficacy, reflection and quality

Schools – two school districts in Florida, USA in partnership with a southeastern university

Explores the role of the mentor in the induction experiences of novice teachers. Here, induction means a ‘professional development intervention designed to systematically train and support teachers in their first years in the classroom’ (p. 304).

Data was collected in 2005-06.

Participants included 77 novice teachers and 11 mentors.

The findings indicate that mentoring-based induction programs results in less teacher turnover and enhanced teacher self-efficacy and reflection.

Positive outcomes for teacher retention and development came from:

  1. Novice teacher spending time with a mentor – the more time spent with a mentor, the better the outcomes, although the authors caution that it is important to know the ‘what’ that happens during these interactions (i.e., more work is needed to measure the ‘what’ that occurs between mentors and mentees).

  2. Mentor characteristics – teaching the same grade or content as the novice teacher – positively relate to the novice teachers’ sense of support and instructional support

  3. Full-time mentors are able to support their novice teachers better than part-time mentors, although this may be due to issues of training and support for part-time mentors.

  4. Novice teachers who felt supported in their relationship with their mentor (this is directly related to mentoring time and quality of relationship between mentor and mentee) reported higher levels of self-efficacy and reflection. ‘Intensity’ of relationship needs to be looked into further.

The authors note that school-culture context and novice teachers’ strengths and stressors should also be looked into further to determine the effectiveness of mentoring/induction programs.


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