June 21, 2012
On June 20, there was virtual round-table discussion held about mentoring programs. This program was facilitated by Justin Janak and Greg Hedgepeth from East Carolina University. Here is a recap and a few highlights of this program.
An overarching theme of the program was the importance of understanding needs when developing a mentorship initiative. Who on campus is in need for a mentoring program—student leaders, student subgroup populations, first-year students, new professionals, etc.? What types of activities and programs are needed to meet their needs—academic success, social relationships, leadership training, professional development, etc.? And who needs to be involved to achieve these goals—how many peers, faculty, staff, senior administrators, etc.?
While the conversation involved a small group, many insights related to mentoring programs were shared in four main categories: orientation and training, peer mentoring initiatives, leadership development, and assessment.
The importance of effectively training the mentors and setting expectations for participants through orientation was discussed, in order to ensure that everyone understood the goals of the program. Some common challenges for mentoring programs that can be addressed during this training process include: understanding boundaries and what is appropriate to do/say as a mentor, developing facilitation skills, knowing campus and program resources that are available, and being able to related to the needs of those involved in the program.
Using East Carolina University’s African American Male Mentoring Program (AAMMP) as an example, the facilitators discussed how peer success initiatives can be implemented. The goal of the program, which started this past academic year, was to connect students, faculty, and staff through enrichment, participation and support. The program builds one-on-one connections between students and mentors, as well as a strong connection to the program identity, through social, community, and academic activities. Hosted in a cultural center on campus, it has created a space on campus for participants to come for support, with an online Ning community also used to check-in, track communication, and push messages out to participants.
The level of leadership development that can occur through mentoring programs was discussed as two-fold. The mentees get introduced to basic concepts and skills to help them be successful within the context of the program—adjusting to college life, becoming a new professional, etc. The mentors have a chance to develop more advanced leadership through role modeling and applying the competencies related to the program.
And finally, while limited research on the direct outcomes of mentoring programs has been conducted, the importance of assessment in mentoring programs was also discussed. Some measures include retention and GPA of program participants. For example, the facilitators tracked the level of engagement through the online community, and they had data showing that the AAMMP student participants ended the year with a higher GPA than the average ECU student and that the program had a 100 percent retention rate.
Let’s continue this discussion!
- Are mentoring programs being discussed on your campus? What programs exist? What are ideas for some potential future programs?
- What needs are the mentoring programs designed to address?
- What successes or challenges have you had with these programs? With training? With assessment?
is the Online Engagement Manager at ACUI.
As a member of the education department, Justin is responsible for content delivery and member engagement through new technologies, working with all of ACUI’s online learning programs, communities of practice, and other online and social media projects.