The Role of Mentoring in Motivating Others


  The Role of Mentoring in Motivating Others

Mentoring, sometimes called “academic advising” or “coaching,” is a form of one-on-one professional support and guidance typically provided by someone more experienced in a subject to those newer to it.

As the most immediate and intimate form of coaching, mentoring often takes place outside the classroom. In this capacity, it helps beginners find their feet in their new environment by guiding them through practical challenges such as understanding academic expectations and navigating social hierarchies. Mentors might also monitor their progress towards achieving particular goals. Although both the student and the mentor might have some formal role in determining particular steps in this process, the mentoring relationship is generally one of genuine trust since both parties are confident that the other is capable of behaving ethically and empathetically.

As a more formalized form of advising, mentoring typically occurs within the departmental context of an academic unit or college. This environment facilitates a more focused approach to mentoring, with mentors typically focusing on their specific area of expertise, teaching skills and pedagogical methods. Research shows that one can get better at teaching through mentoring relationships.

Mentoring is typically a voluntary activity, and one of the most important factors shaping a mentor’s choice is their own relationship with their mentors.

The importance of mentorship to students' achievements has been gaining recognition in recent years. One study found that the effect of having an effective mentor explained 33% of the variance in grades among undergraduates. This would seem to suggest that students who are not mentored achieve lower grades than they otherwise would; those who are mentored enjoy higher grades as compared to those who are not. However, another study found that only underprivileged students benefited from mentoring; advantaged students did not gain from having an additional support system outside of their immediate family.

There are several reasons why students might engage in and benefit from mentoring. The most common purpose for mentoring is academic, to guide a new instructor through the rookie stages of teaching, but mentoring can also be motivated by a desire to get help with other issues. In addition to academic goals, students may be motivated by personal issues such as stress or anxiety related to their careers. Women have been found to benefit more from professional mentoring than men.

Compared with other modes of advising, mentorship is generally more effective at helping students achieve their goals. One study compared high-performing and low-performing teams in mathematics. While neither mentoring nor non-mentoring conditions led to significant changes in the high-performing teams as a whole, the mentored groups showed significant improvement whereas the non-mentored groups' performance did not change.

Compared to other modes of advising, mentorship is seen as ideal for helping students achieve their goals. A 2005 study found that students who were highly engaged in mentoring relationships had higher grade point averages and better retention rates than those students who were not engaged in mentoring relationships.

The relationship between mentors and proteges can be very intense and personal, providing its participants with much more than skills or knowledge (Burke, 1994). One study found that mentors help their proteges to develop greater capabilities in a number of areas including goal setting, reflection, and planning. Another study found that mentors help their proteges to develop greater capabilities in the areas of organizational resources and personal resources.

Mentoring relationships are also seen as more satisfying than other modes of advising, especially for women. One study found that women who received mentoring were more likely to feel satisfied with their academic experience than women who did not receive mentoring. However, men did not feel more or less satisfied whether or not they received mentoring.

Mentors also play an important role in helping new employees adjust to stressful situations. Over 90% of executives interviewed in a recent study said that new employees should be assigned a mentor during their first six months on the job to assist them in adapting to their new work environment.

Mentoring is a very effective way for helping junior faculty succeed. One study found that mentors are rated higher by juniors than any other source of support, including mentors' supervisors. Another study found that mentorship was the most important predictor of whether junior faculty survived tenure review.

It has also been suggested that mentoring is more effective at helping women meet their goals than career centers or other similar resources.

Mentors can help their protégés to develop greater capabilities. Mentors were found to provide students with greater personal and organizational resources, according to a study done by Kirk Connolly in 1996. He also found that mentors provided students with greater academic resources and stimulated more career aspirations, according to a study conducted in 1987.

The relationship between mentors and their protégés is very intense. The relationship between mentors and mentees can be compared with romantic relationships. However, while most romantic relationships are based on the physical attraction of the individuals involved, mentoring relationships are based on something else: the respect between mentor and protege that has been developed over time.

Many times, mentors make a one-year commitment to provide mentoring. However, it can be more common for mentors to have an ongoing mentorship. In this type of relationship, mentors and protégés are in regular contact, which can be a positive aspect in the mentoring process. For example, mentees often have questions during the course of their research or graduate studies that would only be resolved in a face-to-face conversation with the mentor. This interaction allows for greater communication between mentor and protégé because the relationship is based on a personal connection rather than just an exchange of knowledge.

Mentors can be anyone who has been in a formal mentoring relationship with another person. Some examples include advisors, instructional and research assistants, coworkers, or other students or faculty members. A mentor can be someone who is "on the inside" when it comes to career planning and one who is "on the outside" when it comes to career advice. Mentors provide support for their protégés during certain times throughout their academic careers and offer them more information than other mentors but less than a personal adviser.

One of these mentors typically provides more of an informal role than a formal one.


Mentoring is a very effective method for helping students achieve their goals and develop their capabilities. Mentors can also help new employees adjust to the stresses of the workplace. The power of mentorship is its personal relationship-based approach to advising. Mentors are able to provide more personal and individualized advice compared with other sources of advising, such as career centers or advisors, because they are able to build close relationships with their protégés over time. This relationship allows mentors and protégés to discuss problems face-to-face without worrying about being interrupted or having to act professionally in their interactions.

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