Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
The excerpt below looks at mentoring by faculty and gives some nice insights
into the roles and phases of such relationships. It is taken from: Teaching
Alone, Teaching Together: Transforming the Structure of Teams for Teaching,
James L. Bess and Associates, Chapter Six: The Mentor Facilitating
Out-of-Class Cognitive and Affective Growth by Michael W. Galbraith,
Patricia Maslin-Ostrowski, pp 145-148. Copyright 2000 by Jossey-Bass,
reprinted with permission.
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Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
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THE ROLES AND PHASES OF MENTORSHIP
Michael W. Galbraith,
ROLES OF MENTORSHIP
Within the mentorship process, a mentor often assumes multiple roles
to bring about the enhancement of the mentee's professional,
personal, and psychological development. At different times, the
mentor may be a role model, advocate, sponsor, adviser, guide,
developer of skills and intellect, listener, host, coach, challenger,
visionary, balancer, friend, sharer, facilitator, and resource
provider. Along with these roles comes a responsibility to consider
the psychological dimensions of the relationship, for example,
accepting, confirming, counseling, and protecting. The role that best
describes the mentor may be decided as a result of how well the
mentor understands the total mentorship process. Clearly, the mentor
role does not suit all people, including professors.
PHASES OF MENTORSHIP
There has been little investigation of mentoring phases or stages
from a conceptual and theoretical perspective, except for the work of
Kram (1985) and Cohen (1995a). Kram examined the phases of a mentor
relationship from the perspective of psychological and organizational
factors that influence career and psychological functions performed.
She suggests that developmental relationships vary in length but
generally proceed through four predictable, yet not entirely
THE INITIAL PHASE is the period in which the relationship is
conceived and becomes important to both mentor and mentee. This phase
may last for a time span of six months to one year. From the
undergraduate perspective, this would occur during the freshman year.
Given the apparently overwhelming challenge of college to most
freshmen on entrance, one can imagine the mentor on the team finding
himself or herself in great demand. Yet, all students, undergraduate
and graduate level, learn best in a supportive environment, and
having a designated mentor on the team will give students much easier
access to faculty. The mentor team member would be willing, able and
desirous of this kind of interaction with students, instead of
faculty whose academic preparation and research makes them offer
"limited office hours."
THE SECOND PHASE, called the cultivation phase, lasts from two to
five years. For the undergraduate, this then might take place during
the sophmore and junior years, or even longer. During this phase, the
positive expectations that emerged during the initiation phase are
continually tested against reality. The mentor and mentee discover
the real value of relating to each other and clarify the boundaries
of their relationship.
PHASE THREE, separation, is marked by significant changes in the
relationship and might happen during or soon after a student's senior
year. It is a time when the mentee experiences new independence and
autonomy, as well as turmoil, anxiety, and feelings of loss. The
separation phase lasts from six months to two years. Mentors on teams
that are teaching college seniors or students at the end of their
graduate course work will represent a new resource to students
feeling the anxiety of departure from the comfort of their college or
university years and seeing the uncertainty of their postgraduate
THE FINAL PHASE is redefinition. In this phase, the relationship
takes on significantly different characteristics and becomes either a
more pee-like friendship or one that is characterized by hostility
and resentment. In general, during the redefinition phase, both the
mentor and mentee recognize that a shift in developmental tasks has
occurred and that the previous mentorship process is no longer needed
Getting out of sync with the developmental phases of the mentoring
relationship could result in a less-than-positive experience for both
mentor and mentee. Although everyone will not experience the phases
at the same rate, it is essential that they go through all of them,
and in sequence.
If one accepts the stage theory of mentoring, it is obvious that the
time commitment required precludes this being accomplished in a
single semester. Mentoring is not a short-term relationship. It does
not fit the higher education model of taking a series of courses with
different professors if the expectation is for all faculty to mentor
all students. One course in one semester does not provide sufficient
time to move through the total process.
It is, however, reasonable to expect that if the mentor team members
are given the responsibility for teaching entry-level required
courses, then they may begin to establish a relationship with future
mentees early in the students' academic careers. This would be
accomplished, in part, through active listening and questioning that
establishes a psychological climate of trust. This lays the
foundation for a more engaging mentoring relationship. Without this
kind of connection, the likelihood of a meaningful mentor-mentee
experience is limited.
Although mentoring relationships evolve over an extended period of
time, Advising can be effective in the short-term because the
emphasis is more on information than on relationship and nurturing.
On the other hand, if the team members chosen to be mentors are given
the companion assignment of department advisers, they would have a
better chance of getting to know students both in and out of the
classroom. This would allow them to cultivate relationships further
and continue building a foundation of trust. Advising may be
transformed into mentoring. An additional benefit to this team
approach is that students would get some of their needs met through
the department mentor - for example, advising, career planning, and
even some counseling needs - rather than having to seek out help from
strangers located across the community.
Good mentoring is a distinctive and powerful process that enhances
intellectual, professional, and personal development through a
special relationship characterized by highly emotional and often
passionate interactions between the mentor and mentee. Although we
can assume that all professors in higher education engage in some
level of instructional activity, it cannot be concluded that all are
actively involved in mentoring, nor should they be. The complete
mentor role does not fit all individuals: some faculty are less
inclined toward developing close relationships with students and with
nurturing the students' development. Not all faculty are capable of
or willing to take on this role and if required to do so would be
inadequate or "incomplete" mentors. That is why the faculty team
concepts has the promise of improving the quality of education. If
only faculty who are well matched to this role become the team
mentors, students will be better served.
Even if all professors are not mentors, understanding the role of the
complete mentor can be a template for the good instructor. The
essence of mentoring is grounded in the concept of one-on-one
teaching. If one is engaged in mentoring, one is engaged in teaching.
Thus, in addition to having the responsibility of mentoring students,
the team mentor could also be asked to share his or her expertise
regarding the mentor role with colleagues. The function of the
effective mentor, which include building a relationship, providing
information, being facilitative and challenging, serving as a role
model, and co-constructing a vision, are not far removed from what
good teachers do. If one also examines the role of a skillful
instructor, it will become clear that there is high correlation
between the two roles (Brookfield, 1990, 1995; Daloz, 1986).
Regardless of the academic discipline or subject, the instructional
process can be enhanced by understanding and incorporating aspects of
the complete mentor role.
Instructors as mentors, according to Daloz (1998), provide a balance
of support and challenge such that our learners feel safe to move.
From ancient times to contemporary life, mentors have challenged
students to have a vision that places their journey in a larger
context and invokes purpose in their lives. Mentoring is a special
role that should only be assigned to professors who embrace it.
Mentors support their students, challenge their students, and help
their students construct a vision to further their educational
journey. Complete mentors work in a truly responsive and interactive
way with learners, which allows for a profound affirmation of both
teaching and learning in the higher education environment. The
faculty team model would permit the mentor-mentee relationship to
Brookfield, S.D. (1990). The skillful teacher. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass
Cohen, N. H. (1995a). Mentoring adult learners: A guide for educators and
trainers. Malabar, FL: Kriger.
Daloz, L.A. (1986) Effective teaching and mentoring. Ssan Francisco:
Daloz, L.A. (1998) Mentorship. In M.W. Gallbraith (Ed).), Adult learning
methods (2nd ed. Malabar, FL: Krieger
Kram, K.E. (1985) Mentoring at work: Developmental relationships in
organizational life. Glenview, IL. Scott, Foresman.