Mentoring for Early childhood teachers research Report 2012

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APPENDIX A: Empirical research on mentoring in Early Childhood Contexts

APPENDIX B: Empirical research on mentoring in Schools
APPENDIX A: Empirical research on mentoring in Early Childhood Contexts

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?

Stanulis & Russell, 2000, ”Jumping in”: trust and communication in mentoring student teachers

EC and schools – the context is an alternative Master’s Program for students with Bachelor’s in areas other than education. The course involved a year-long placement, which provided a field-based preparation for teaching, in which the teachers had leadership roles in developing and maintaining the program.

The supervising teacher during placements is reconceptualised as ‘mentor’ – to indicate classroom teachers as partners with the university in teacher education, as well as conceptualising the teacher as mentor in the sense of guide, with the assumption that ‘guided learning to teach is face-to-face, close to the classroom work’ (Feiman-Nemser & Rosaen, 1997: 7). Also incorporated the research of Roth, Rosaen & Lanier (1988) on the mentor-teacher.

The data is from the pilot of the alternative Master’s Program. Data from two mentoring pairs (in second and third grades) are included in the article, part of the pilot program’s cohort which included 20 students – 11 in middle school and 9 in EC – and their mentor-teachers.

The process of mentoring required that trust be established in the mentoring relationship. The year-long mentoring provided the space for this to happen.

Also, the idea of ‘mutual mentoring’ where there is a collaborative effort by university- and school-based participants in the process of mentoring

The program included:

(1) a school-based program coordinator to help facilitate interactions between schools and universities, (2) mentor workshops and support meetings; (3) monthly coordination meetings between teacher- and student-representatives; (4) individual meeting with mentors for feedback at the end of the year.

One important finding was that mentors need mentoring, too, and a support group.

Yes, but must take into account that data on only 2 dyads were included in the paper

Pavia et al, 2003, Mentoring Early Childhood professionals


Katz (1977) notes that beginning teachers are in ‘survival mode’ in the classroom and anxious about her ability to meet challenges and realities. During this stage, they need support, understanding, encouragement, comfort and guidance. These needs can be met by connecting the beginning teacher with an experienced teacher (a mentor).

Mentoring is a reciprocal process (Black & Puckett, 1996; Hargreaves & Fullan, 2000).

12 participants (6 mentors and 6 protégés) in a 9-month period of a special project; all participants were female

The goal of the project was to examine mentor-protégé relationships through the voices of the participants

To get an insider’s view of the mentoring experience so as to offer strategies for the enhancement of professional development of beginning and experienced teachers

Mentors appreciated having a meeting of mentors only – mentors saw it as a forum for an exchange of ideas

Mentors noted that being mentors enhanced their perceptions of their own professional identities

Protégés also appreciated protégé only meetings – to discuss and share concerns regarding working with children

Protégés also appreciated being able to visit their mentor’s classroom, which provided insights into organising the EC environment and developing the curriculum.

However, there was difficulty in finding the time to meet or contact each other because of time constraints or geographical distance, protégés felt pressured to be in the project and have a problem ready for the mentor to ‘solve’; mentors were cautious about being know-it-alls or imposing themselves or their style on the protégés.

Also, there was a perception among mentor-protégé dyads that they had different working experiences – type of program, socio-economic status of families served.

Pre-arranged pairing of mentor-protégé dyads were also factor in hindering the building of relationships, such as incompatibilities due to responsibilities, philosophies, personalities and life stages.

The term ‘protégé’ was resented by the protégés because they all had qualifications – they thought the mentoring should be thought of as sharing and supportive; protégés were concerned about the unequal roles and perceived this to be a barrier to building relationships; they thought they should be viewed as peers who could also provide, as well as receive, support.

- Initial orientation meeting for mentors and protégés at which the project team explained the mentoring project and information packets were distributed

- planned opportunities for mentor-protégé contact included: 4 focus group meetings, 2 meetings of local professional organisation and larger EC community

- 3 small group meetings of mentors only and protégés only (conducted during focus group meetings)

- Project team determined the agenda and topics for all meetings; speakers were invited to the 2 community meetings and 2 of the focus group meetings

- Mentor and protégé pairs were encouraged to contact each other throughout the course of the 9-month project

- However, except for one pair, the mentor-protégé dyads did not work. The study concludes that the pairing of individuals in a close relationship, such as a mentoring relationship, requires expertise. Group meetings prior to the mentoring should allow for a more natural pairing.

Close proximity (geographically) between mentors and protégés would allow for the development of successful relationships.

Funds should also be available for time release to allow for mentors and protégés to meet.

Sensitivity to the terms used in the program would also allow for a more successful program (protégés didn’t like the term).

Goals should be established by both participants in the mentoring process to provide direction and purpose.

Mentors need training and ongoing support for their roles.

A third party may be necessary to provide the link between mentor and protégé and facilitate the development of a relationship.

Each mentoring relationship has a unique pattern. Therefore mentoring programs should be individualised in order to fit with participants’ developmental needs.


Heung-Ling, 2003, Mentoring student-teacher case studies

EC (Hong Kong)

The key to successful mentoring lies in the mentor/mentee relationship.

Buber (1970), “in the beginning is the relation” – i.e., the essence of mentoring lies in the relationship.

4 Kindergarten Principals and 4 student-teachers in Hong Kong

In-service initial teacher education program known as the Qualified Kindergarten Teacher (QKT) program in Hong Kong. The Principals were asked to advise and support the student-teachers and to mentor them, but not to assess the students’ progress.

Data included in-depth interviews, Principals’ supervisory records and student-teachers’ journal writings

The study was meant to explore the dimensions of mentoring that hindered or facilitated the mentoring process (see column on right for outcomes)

Relationship-building is critical in the mentoring process.

Dimensions that sustain an effective mentoring relationship include:

- a high comfort level

- respect

- trust

- openness

- encouragement

- ongoing support

- regular communication

- mentor’s expertise

- level of commitment

- time availability

The above dimensions are inter-related – that is, the mentee’s belief in the expertise of the mentor probably contributes to the mentee’s comfort level with his/her mentor.

Mentoring relationships are grounded in close personal interaction. The mentoring relationship doesn’t end, but changes over time to peer or partner.

Mentoring relationships need to attend to the emotional aspects and not only to the intellectual dimensions.

Both mentors and mentees need preparation for the mentoring process so that they can be aware of the complexity of an authentic mentoring relationship.

Yes – adding to theory

Cassady, Mucherach & Hoffman, 2003, Meeting the need: delivering quality child-care education on the web

Delivery of a Child Development Associate Certificate through an online course – identifying the efficacy of mentoring within the online learning framework

A modified Fischer & Krause-Eheart (1991) model for delivering course content via the web, incorporating: structured, yet flexible, formal educational content; (2) adequate technical infrastructure and support; (3) attending to the social and emotional needs of the learner; (4) establishing a professional support network for the students.

With regard to the 4th factor above, mentoring is provided to guide the student through the course. Burke & Miles (2002) note that effective mentoring for online students happens when mentors and mentees engage in frequent email or phone communication, as well as arranging face-to-face meetings.

Study was a pilot program for the online delivery of the Child Care Learning (CCL) program (delivered 2001-2002). Involved 57 mentees and 22 mentors. All participants were female.

The intended outcome was to reach a cohort of students who could not normally enrol in an on-campus course. The pilot online program was fairly successful with 40 out of 57 completing the course (30% dropout rate).

Mentors needed to be actively working in a child-care setting, had to have an Associate’s degree in EC, and enrolled in a course on mentoring and leadership. Mentors were not involved in grading (assessing) the students so as to keep them as a resource and support system. One mentor was assigned to several mentees based on geographical location – ideally; geographically-based gatherings (for networking purposes, working with peers) could be facilitated through the mentor. Early and regular meetings between mentor and mentee helped establish a support system for the mentee.

Mentor training had to be completed prior to actually becoming a mentor. Particularly important was the development of mentor skills – i.e., experienced practitioners are not necessarily ready/skilled to help someone develop professionally. Mentoring is an integral component to online learning programs; therefore mentor training is also a critical component.

Success of the mentor-mentee relationship was facilitated by both having an understanding of the role of the mentor. Therefore, there had to a clear definition of roles and responsibilities.


Elliott, 2004, Building a partnership through collaboration, reflection, dialogue

Early Childhood (Reggio Emilia Approach) – preservice teacher and mentoring teachers during a year-long internship

Mentoring of less-experienced teachers supported collaborative dialogue, partnership building, and reflection about personal philosophies of education as a means for professional development (Jones & Vesilind, 1996).

Mentoring beginning teachers helps in teacher retention.

Study conducted over one semester; 6 sets of mentor-mentees recruited for the study (kinder to third grade); participants recruited from preservice teachers in teacher preparation program at a large US southeastern university; preservice teachers were Master’s degree students in a year-long student internship experience; mentoring teachers were the teachers paired with the preservice teachers in an elementary school placement site.

The study was meant to understand and interpret the process of being mentored.

Collaboration and reflection influenced classroom activities. Having a colleague in the classroom allowed a sharing of ideas that would not have happened otherwise.

- Team teaching

- Collaborative dialogue sessions to discuss beliefs, ideas, ideals, role of the teacher

- Reflective practice

- Action research project provided opportunity for reflection and collaborative dialogue between mentor and mentee; also emphasised the importance of theory

- Experienced teachers guiding the professional development of beginning teachers


Ryan & Hornbeck, 2004, Mentoring for quality improvement: a case study of a mentor teacher in the reform process

EC - a case study of a ‘mentor teacher’ helping child care teachers in implementing the High/Scope curriculum. The role of mentor teacher (or officially, master teacher) was mandated by a 1998 NJ Supreme Court decision to facilitate quality improvement in preschools for the 30 poorest school districts in NJ

The mentor as change agent in instructional reform efforts – that is, mentors, in the form of local curriculum specialists and or staff developers, assist with the implementation of initiatives

Follows one mentor teacher in her work of helping preschool teachers implement reform initiatives

Study data included time diaries, interviews and documents collected during fieldwork.

Teachers being mentored are not beginning/novice teachers.

The mentor-teacher in this study did not have the necessary experience in working with children (she worked with adults as a staff developer) and therefore did not have the experiential base from which to draw examples and ideas to model to teachers how they might adapt the curriculum reform to their own classroom contexts. Some teachers had more teaching experience than the teacher-mentor and therefore resisted the changes she suggested.

Reform initiatives cannot be top-down. Teachers must have ownership of the change process. In putting a mentor teacher in the role of helping teachers adopt reform initiatives in their classrooms, the mentor-teacher is put in the impossible position of getting the teachers to buy into, and act on, proposals in which their perspectives were not considered. Policy makers must structure opportunities for interaction and communication with teachers about intended reform initiatives.

The study suggests that the field of EC education needs to create a culture of instructional leadership within the preschool sector, with a dual focus: (1) to support the current workforce in building on their experience with formal education, and (2) develop a group of teacher leaders (through training) that recognises the specialised expertise necessary to facilitate reform.

Yes, seems like this form of mentoring is equivalent to the concept of ‘coaching’ in the DEECD and WMR programs

Davis & Higdon, 2008, The effects of mentoring/ induction support on beginning teachers’ practices in early elementary classrooms (K-3)

Early elementary (K-3)

The need for induction support during the first years of teaching: the greatest predictor of student success/ outcomes is ‘teacher quality’, and induction support has been shown to improve ‘teacher quality’.

Ten participants were purposively selected for the study. They included first-year early elementary (K-3) teachers from four districts. They were fully qualified teachers who were also doing a Master’s degree at a university, supported by a tuition scholarship and fellowship in lieu of a teacher’s salary (they are called ‘Teacher Fellows’) – that is, participants were beginning (first year) teachers who were also undertaking postgraduate studies.

Five teachers were provided on-site mentors (teachers who had been released from their classroom responsibilities); five were not mentored on-site but were provided with mentors after school or as needed (control group or Non-Teacher Fellows).

Teacher Fellows study and practice research-based strategies, analyse videos of their teaching, conducted an inquiry project in their classrooms and have peer-coaching sessions with their mentors.

The study was meant to examine the influence of a school/university induction program in beginning teachers’ development in early elementary classrooms, and focuses on:

(1) effects of mentoring/ induction support on beginning teachers’ classroom practices

(2) types and frequency of mentoring/ induction support beginning teachers received

(3) effects of mentoring/ induction in teacher retention.

The authors/ researchers conclude that the induction/ mentoring received by Teacher Fellows had a positive influence on each of the 3 areas above (as compared to the Non Teacher Fellows).

Mentors attended weekly mentor training seminars.

Mentors were freed from their classroom responsibilities and were therefore available to provide ‘just in time’ assistance to their mentees on-site. That is, mentors were able to provide ‘real time’ support at the time it was needed. These fulltime mentors also provided more follow-up support or coaching.

Yes, shows how effective fulltime, onsite mentoring support is for the beginning/ first year teacher

Pugia & Recchia, 2008, The Early Childhood Professional Mentoring Group: a forum for parallel learning

EC – The Early Childhood Professional Mentoring Group (ECPMG) was established to develop a forum of support for recent graduates of a Masters program for EC and EC Special Education as a response to graduates’ experience of a lack of support in the field.

“A tradition of isolation and a myth of self-sufficiency perpetuated within the teaching profession (Little, 1990) contribute to new teachers’ feelings of disillusionment and inadequacy and make the act of reaching out for help even more challenging…Concerned that they may be ‘found out’ or viewed as incompetent or unprepared, novice teachers are hesitant to seek out assistance from more experienced colleagues around them.” (p. 341)

The ECPMG was developed because some new teachers identify their university professors and supervisors as ‘safe’ sources of support.

See first 2 columns.

Participants were invited from graduates of the Masters program. In the first year, the participants were all females between the ages of 23-40, with a majority in their mid-20s.

Two authors were co-facilitators of the program: one doctoral student instructor/student teaching supervisor, and one EC professor/program coordinator.

Monthly meetings at the uni with 1-10 participants, averaging 4. Notes from the meetings were distributed to all graduates/possible participants.

The researchers, who were also the paper’s authors and co-facilitators of the ECPMG, wanted to investigate the novice teachers’ experience of transitioning to teaching (or transition into the field) and to identify the most important issues to examine and measure regarding teacher effectiveness.

Because of the sporadic attendance of participants, the researchers did not get the outcome they wanted, although they concluded that the group did provide a ‘safe’ place for its members.

- Attendance may be required to assure group consistency, although this could change the nature of the group, from ‘choice’ to ‘obligation’

- The costs to facilitators of planning and carrying out group meetings and documenting reflections didn’t seem worthwhile due to the small attendance at each meeting, and sporadic attendance by participants (which resulted in the researchers not being able to answer issues with regard to transition that they were asking (see column on left).

- It was challenging for many 1st year teachers to attend the meetings, despite their intentions and interest, and despite the facilitators’ attempts to accommodate schedules and interests; 2nd and 3rd year teachers had more consistent attendance – this may mean that 1st year teachers may benefit from another format.

- A mentoring model with no pressure or obligation from participants to participate made it difficult to follow individuals over time.

Yes, particularly the negative effects on the program of the lack of obligation by participants to come to meetings

Uttley & Horm, 2008, Mentoring in Early Childhood Professional Development: Evaluation of the Rhode Island Child Development Specialist Apprenticeship Program

Early Childhood – the Rhode Island Child Development Specialist Apprenticeship Program (RICDSAP) is a professional development apprenticeship program for EC educators.

The apprentice-mentor model served as the foundation for RICDSAP (a 2-year program).

The presence of a mentor in the classroom impacts satisfaction levels for both mentor and mentee (Jones, 2002; Heung-Ling, 2003)

The paper contains 2 studies: (1) a study of the program goals, (2) a study of the apprentice-mentor relationships.

First cohort had 56 participants comprising of: 21 apprentices, 20 mentors and 15 directors, situated in 20 classrooms across 15 centres. All participants were female (typical of the field) and mostly white (not typical in the field). Through attrition, the final sample size of the study was 14 apprentices and 16 mentors.

Mentoring was expected to produce higher levels of satisfaction for both mentors and apprentices (mentees). Study results showed the mentors in the ‘satisfied’ category while apprentices were in the ‘neutral’ category.

Apprentices were generally overwhelmed by the combination of study, work and family commitments, while mentors were less so (being older and having less family commitments, as well as having less study requirements).

Study concludes that the apprentice-mentor model is a successful strategy for inducting early career professionals into EC.

Mentors were required to complete one college (uni) course, ‘Supervision in Early Childhood Settings’ at the University of Rhode Island. The course is designed to develop supervisory and management skills as well as to function as an effective mentor, coach or guide. Mentors were also required to participate in monthly ‘Mentor Support Groups’ facilitated by the course instructor.

Higher levels of satisfaction in the mentors and mentees happened when they worked in the same classroom and worked with the same-age children.

Beaunae, 2009, Teachers’ perceptions of interpersonal mentoring relationships in on early childhood mentoring program (PhD dissertation)


The effectiveness of mentoring for professional development in an education setting is contingent on the quality of the interpersonal relationship between mentor and mentee;

A successful mentoring relationship is one in which the mentor and mentee have sustained positive interactions.

Looked at the interpersonal mentoring relationships of 6 EC teachers (3 mentor-mentee dyads) in an in-class mentoring program for professional development in a university based EC centre

Setting was a university-based child care centre

Mentoring program was teacher-initiated and implement: it started with one newly-hired teacher asking for a mentor to familiarise her with the centre. The centre catered for children with disabilities, so mentoring was needed for newly-hired teachers and beginning teachers, particularly those who had no experience of working with children with disabilities.

There were ‘form letters’ for mentors and mentees.

Mentoring activities included:

- a tour of the buildings

- introductions to all staff

- review employee handbook, accident/incident report procedures, parent handbook, the centre’s philosophy and mission statements

- mentee shadows the mentor for a few hours

- regularly scheduled meetings between mentor and mentee

- mentor available to answer questions and concerns

- mentor to make the new employee welcomed and values

- mentor acts as advocate or advisor for mentee when mentee is faced with challenges in the classroom, with the children, and other teachers.

Interpersonal mentoring relationships are influenced strongly by 4 aspects of the EC environment: physical, professional, social and emotional environments; and influenced weakly by personal characteristics.

Physical environment consists of:

(1) classroom structure

(2) presence and immediate needs of young children

(3) proximity of mentors to mentees

(4) time schedules

Professional environment:

(1) formal mentoring

(2) informal mentoring

(3) mentor experience

(4) mentor training program

(5) reciprocal professional relationships

(6) teacher turnover

Social environment:

(1) communication

(2) connecting with others

(3) friendship opportunity

Emotional environment:

(1) comfortable relationships

(2) helping relationships

(3) supportive relationships

Personal characteristics:

(1) individual attitudes

(2) personality traits


Deutsch & Tong, 2011, Work-to-school mentoring: childcare centre directors and teachers’ return to school

EC centre directors mentoring staff on pursuing higher education

EC is a field traditionally staffed by females who are not highly qualified and lowly paid. Pursuing more qualifications is the key to getting more pay. The study tried to find out whether centre directors were influential in mentoring their staff to pursue higher education through educational and instrumental mentoring (that is, providing the logistics on how to go about pursuing higher qualifications, e.g., getting scholarships).

The difference between educational- and career-mentoring: educational mentoring resulted in more staff attending college (uni) courses while career mentoring resulted in less attendance.

78 centre-directors were interviewed. However, the study is correlational and therefore cannot determine causal relationships.

See left column

See right column

Yes, for the idea that supervisors (centre directors/ managers) are ideally situated to mentor employees mentoring program.

Gallagher, Abbott-Shim & VandeWiele, 2011a, An evaluation of the Individualized Learning Intervention: a mentoring program for early childhood teachers


Gallagher, Abbott-Shim & VandeWiele, 2011b, Head Start mentor teachers impact child outcomes in protégé teachers classrooms

EC – the Individualized Learning Intervention (ILI) is a mentoring program for early childhood teachers that is meant to combat the shortage and high turnover rates of EC teachers

ILI is built upon adult self-directed learning experiences, the collaborative support of others, and teacher development.

Theories of adult development by Levinson (1978) and Mezirow (1991), the centrality of self-directedness in the adult learning process (Brookfield, 1986), and the collaboration and support from peers, instructors and resource people in adult learning (Knowles, 1975; Brookfield, 1986)

The emphasis of mentoring is on building a trusting relationship with the protégé, deepening the protégé’s knowledge and conceptual understanding, promoting a sense of self and purposefulness, and increasing intentional application of newly acquired knowledge to teachers’ skills.

16 mentors and 16 protégé teachers in Head Start classrooms were selected for participation in the study.

Mentors and protégés were matched based on classroom geographic proximity and professional compatibility.

Participant-pairs were then randomly assigned to the ‘treatment’ or ‘control’ condition.

In the ‘treatment’ condition, mentors participated in the ILI, which consists of:

(1) 50-hour mentor seminar (a series of 2-day seminars over a 4-month period)

(2) ongoing mentoring of protégés by mentors throughout the school year

(3) support for mentors by a Mentor Coordinator

The study is part of multi-site evaluation of Head Start quality improvement interventions.

The study is an attempt to link the development of teachers through mentoring to outcomes for children. The researchers hypothesised that mentoring would result in greater gains in child developmental outcomes that those children in classrooms where their teachers did not receive mentoring.

Children’s developmental outcomes were measured using the Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES): Child Assessment Battery. The study shows improvements for child outcomes for those in classrooms where the teacher was mentored. Children in the ‘control’ classrooms showed decline in social functioning by the end of the year. This suggests support is required for inexperienced teachers to prevent decline in the classroom environment over the course of the year.

Other perceived benefits were:

(1) mentors mentioned helping, supporting, listening, getting to know others, accomplishing goals as benefits

(2) protégés mentioned improvement of classroom environment through new ideas and better methods as benefits.

Challenges were:

(1) finding the time to meet and observe and time to maintain their own responsibilities

(2) mentor realising her own personal faults

(3) protégés feeling the pressure to perform.

Critical to the success of a mentoring program are:

(1) mentor training

(2) support for the mentors

(3) mentors were reimbursed for any expenses they incurred in the process of mentoring (this is seen as a recognition of their service).

Mentor and protégé teachers observed each other’s classrooms, and discussed personal beliefs and how to put these beliefs into practice.

Suggestions for improvement of the program:

(1) initial communication and information – mentors suggested to make sure that protégés understood why they were selected for the program

(2) group meetings to relay information

(3) more time for the group of mentors and protégés to meet

(4) protégé-only meetings

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