Essay Sample on Unlocking Student Engagement Through Mentoring

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1507 Words
Date:  2023-03-27


There is nothing new about the concept of mentoring. The idea of mentoring has a history dating back to the times of Greek mythology. However, throughout the ages and in more recent decades, mentoring has remained as a vehicle to help novice individuals actualize their fullest potential.

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Mentoring is a term that is often used loosely in many different contexts and arenas from the world of business and communities in the context of schools. By nature of being used in so many different settings, the term is not easily defined. Various notable individuals have benefited from what has been described as mentoring, but is it mentoring or is it advising, teaching, or training?

Tricia Hussung defines mentoring in the world of business as being provided advice, different perspectives, improving skills, networking, and Confidence and encouragement (Hussung, 2015). Galbraith and Maslin-Ostrowski (2000) defined mentoring as an intellectual or psychological relationship where the mentor accepts the responsibility of being knowledgeable and trustworthy to be a non-parental person to help students grow into successful individuals academically in the classroom. This study uses the model and definition given to us by Sipes (1996) that describes mentoring as young professionals, providing at-risk adolescents with mentors who could help them develop as individuals.

Many mentoring programs have key characteristics in common with one another that would qualify them as quality programs. However, many for various reasons can ever examine the match of the relationship from mentor to mentee carefully. Mentees who can develop meaningful relationships with the mentors often seek to continue the link and have a better chance of promoting positive outcomes. Unfortunately, many questions about what fosters close and enduring mentoring relationships remain unanswered because very little research has examined the development of mentoring relationships (Keller, 2005b).

This study will examine mentoring programs that exist within schools, referred to as school-based mentoring programs. These programs typically have four prominent characteristics: school personnel apply students for mentoring; an adult mentor meets with a student for one hour per week during the school year; mentors and mentees engage in both academic and social activities during their time together (Jucovy, 2000)

Mentoring programs can be described as being prescriptive or more developmental. In mentoring programs that are labeled as authoritative, the mentee has less say in the authorship of the relationship. Conversely, in developmental relationships, the mentee and mentor express a strong sense of connection to one another and a desire to continue the relationship.

The purpose of this study will examine African-American males and the quality of the mentor to mentee relationship. Students will survey their mentoring relationship to express themselves in the following areas: The extent to which their relationship is student-centered or that they have authorship; Their level of emotional engagement; and the size to which they are dissatisfied with the connection.

Again, student-centered relationships tend to be more successful. Mentees that can express themselves regarding the activities they like and a mentor that listens to them are more likely to have positive outcomes than not. The sense of feeling validated is powerful. Therefore, the youth's feeling of being an equal partner in the relationship is critical to cultivating, regardless of whether the association has a relational or goal-directed focus, and a playful or conventional purpose (DuBois & Karcher, 2014).

As we look at emotional engagement, we will consider the motivational factors of the mentor to the mentee relationship. The relationships that are student-centered and take an interest in what motivates the student are referred to as motivationally lavish by Skinner et al. (2008). With this framework in mind, this attitude by mentees tends to be more successful over time. One would argue the hypothesis that these types of relationships would yield themselves as satisfying to both the youth and the mentor.

Statement of the Problem

The academic achievement of both Black and White public school students, as measured by the NAEP, has improved across time (Vanneman et al. 2009). However, the difference, or gap, in the achievement between these two groups of students persists. Black students generally score lower than White students (Vannaeman et al. 2009; NCES, 2011). In our society, we continue to see the negative impact of an educational system that continues to fail minority students and African American males in particular. In spite of the positive trends on race-based gaps that have remained in the 2017 NAEP assessment, there is still far too much daylight between different groups of students. Unless we rapidly increase the rates at which we close our race, ethnicity, and income-based gaps, unequal access to education and the consequences of this inequality will affect students today as well as subsequent generations (Hansen et al., 2018).

Every day, thousands of Black boys drop out of school, with far too many headed to our nation's juvenile detention centers and adult prisons. Public education, once the great leveler, is failing these boys at rates that, by any measure, have reached crisis proportions (Smiley, 2007).

Mentoring programs increasingly advocated as a means of redressing the decreased availability of adult support and guidance in the lives of youth (Grossman & Tierney, 1998; Herrera et al., 2000; Rhodes, 2002). The pressures of school, peer pressure, easy access to tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, and the biological changes of puberty are just a few of the challenges that young people face (California Center for Health Improvement, 1998). Students engaged in high-quality mentoring programs are associated with improved academic attitudes, self-esteem, and prosocial behavior (Chan et al., 2013).

Several studies have looked at mentoring relationships to understand better why some matches are successful and others are not (Network Training and Research Group, 1996). Research points to the importance of caring, supportive, and growth-fostering relationships with adults in the development of intrinsic youth outcomes such as purpose, prosociality, and self-esteem (Damon, 2008; Scales, Benson & Roehlkepartain, 2001). In a mentoring relationship, adult volunteer and participating youth commit time and energy to develop relationships geared towards personal, academic, or career development (Hamilton & Hamilton, 1992). Also, the mentor and mentee relationship does not exist in isolation but is influenced by several key relationships that surround the match: associations between the volunteer and the youth's family, including parents, siblings, and cousins. The impact of these external relationships on the relationship between the mentor and mentee is an important consideration (Morrow & Styles, 1995).

Mentoring relationships that take hold are likely to grow progressively more effective over time. But while some mentor-youth links last for several years, many ends within a few months. These short-lived matches are unlikely to result in positive outcomes for youth. And, there is some evidence that they can have adverse effects associated with the youth's feelings of being rejected (Grossman & Rhodes, in press; Tierney, Grossman, & Resch, 1995; Morrow & Styles, 1995).

Mentoring programs pose some unique challenges for assessment because they operate at two levels: that of the dyadic relationship and that of the program. To fully assess the quality of youth mentoring relationships, we must understand the characteristics and processes of individual relationships and the components of programs that support their development (Deutsch & Spencer, 2009).

Everyone thinks, interacts, or learns in different ways. As a result, one mentoring approach may not be appropriate for all populations. A review of the literature and many interviews with African-Americans revealed that isolated one-to-one matches are not how most mentoring occurs in African-American communities. Cultural differences between different communities and populations may significantly affect the success of program models and should be considered in program development (Struchen & Porta, 1997).

Why do so many relationships fail? In some cases, the reasons are outside a program's or mentor's control-for example, the youth might move to a different community. But in many cases, failed matches are a result of weak program infrastructure-programs might not provide adequate screening, thoughtful matching, and necessary training. And often, applications fail to monitor matches adequately, especially in the crucial, early "getting to know you" phase. New matches often encounter miscommunication and other problems that, if identified, could likely be addressed and resolved so the relationship could continue and strengthen.

All programs struggle to a greater or lesser extent with mentor-youth matches that fail to develop into the kinds of supportive relationships that can lead to positive outcomes. And even programs that carefully monitor individual events rarely have the opportunity or resources to step back and look at the patterns across all of their matches to assess overall strengths and weaknesses, identify the sources of recurring problems, and make necessary changes in program practices (Jucovy, 1999)

Understanding whether these programs are fostering strong mentoring relationships is essential because research suggests that closer, more supportive mentoring relationships are more likely to make positive changes in youth's lives (Grossman and Johnson, 1999). The analysis of countless others drives us to a point to want to capture the data in a way that shows the strengths and weaknesses of mentoring relationships.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to examine African-American males regarding the quality of mentor to youth relationships in an urban school district of South Carolina.

Significance of the Study

The research of Herrera et al. (2000) that was conducted at the request of Nationa...

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