2018, Cilt 8, Sayı 3, Sayfa(lar) 532-541
Evaluation of Peer Mentoring Program in Higher Education: Does it Support Smooth Transition of New Faculty to the Academia?
Esra ERET1, Oya YERİN GÜNERİ2, Yeşim ÇAPA AYDIN2
1Middle East Technical University, Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, Ankara, Turkey
2Middle East Technical University, Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, Department of Educational Sciences, Ankara, Turkey
Keywords: Peer mentoring program, New faculty members, Professional development
Faculty mentoring programs are implemented in higher education institutions to support faculty development. Within this respect, the
aim of this study was to explore the views and suggestions of mentors and mentees in relation to the effectiveness of the mentoring program
in a large state university in Ankara. The study had a qualitative design and semi-structured interview schedule was used to collect data.
The sample included 8 mentors and 9 mentees. The qualitative data obtained through interviews were analyzed using descriptive analysis.
The results showed that peer mentoring program contributed to professional development of mentees. The mentors also highlighted the
benefits of mentoring program for their career. Both mentors and mentees also provided noteworthy suggestions on how to increase
effectiveness of the mentoring program.
The concepts of mentor and mentorship have been used and
often articulated since ancient times. There are several definitions
and descriptions of who the mentor is and what mentoring
relationship involves. Looking at the dictionary definition,
mentor is a person who gives the younger or less experienced
person help and advice over a period of time, especially at
work or school (Cambridge online dictionary, n. d.)1
might have different roles such as teacher, counselor and sponsor.
They might also provide psychological support, protection
and encouragement to the mentees (Zey, 1984).
Considering the role of mentor, mentorship can be described
as a process between two people; and during this process, one
of the parties (mentor) supports the other (mentee) within
the framework of predetermined goals (Kay & Hinds, 2009).
Mentorship generally includes activities, which are carefully
planned and allow mentees to overview their own job performance
and career development (Garrick & Alexander, 1994).
According to Johnson (2007), mentoring is a dynamic and
personal relationship maintained in academic settings and, in
the context of this relationship, an experienced mentor takes
on the task of being a guide, role model, teacher, or sponsor
for a less experienced mentee. As suggested by Kohn (2014),
mentoring is a process which includes whatever best meets
the needs of a given academic institution (p. 5).
When it is implemented effectively, mentoring is expected to
provide certain benefits to mentors, mentees, and the institutions
where mentoring is conducted. In the literature, these
benefits for mentors, can be listed as increase in knowledge,
skills, and expertise; information about new and up-to-date
ideas; insight through counseling; recognition among peers;
increase in job and personal satisfaction; creative synergy
and professional innovation; motivation for being updated all
the time; friendship and support. On the other hand, for the
mentee, the common benefits are generally cited as increase
in scholarly performance, development of professional skills,
development of communication network, development of
professional trust and identity, increase in satisfaction from
department and institution, less stress and less role conflict.
Other than these benefits, some other observed benefits
include increase in career commitment; developing belongingness
and commitment to the institution; retention in the
profession for longer periods; being more effective in teaching;
rapid adaptation to profession and faculty; contributions
to promotion and tenure (Mathews, 2003; Schrodt, Cawyer,
& Sanders, 2003). Lastly, according to Douglas (1997), the
benefits of the mentoring for the organization are increase
in productivity and motivation, improvement in the process
of recruitment, increase in corporate communication; development
of successive planning; lower rates of staff turnover;
increase in the organizational commitment; and strengthening
the organizational culture. Moreover, mentoring programs
provide information for instructional resources, and support the development of interdisciplinary cooperation (Savage,
Karp, & Logue, 2004).
Although the literature portrays various benefits of mentoring,
the characteristics and responsibilities of the faculty have
utmost importance for the mentoring programs to reach its
goals successfully. Therefore, these responsibilities and characteristics
of mentors need to be clearly identified in mentoring
programs in higher education institutions. Among the most
important characteristics of mentors are expertise in content
area, professional maturity, honesty, availability, cordiality,
high motivation, being respected by peers in the field, being
supportive and encouraging (Berk et al., 2005). Besides these
characteristics, Berk and his colleagues (2005) also mentioned
the major responsibilities of mentors as commitment to mentoring
program; offering field-related resources, specialists, and
materials; providing guidance and support about professional
issues; encouraging mentees ideas and studies; providing productive
feedback for mentees work; creating suitable environment
for improving mentees skills and abilities; responding to
mentees questions clearly and on time; respecting mentees
contributions and individuality; sharing his/her own success,
useful resources, and activities with mentee. Although the
characteristics and responsibilities of mentors are crucial for
the achievement of any mentoring programs, these are not
enough for the program to be successful. Mentee has also certain
roles in the process (Carnell, MacDonald, & Askew, 2006).
First of all, mentees should inform mentors about their professional
needs and expectations. Moreover, mentees need to do
their best while specifying time for each meeting, informing
mentor about the suitability of meetings, taking notes during
meetings on important issues, going to meetings on time,
being open and honest, protecting professional distance and
confidentiality of the sessions, being realistic and not expecting
from mentor to solve problems, and fulfilling a responsibility
before each meeting.
As can be seen from the literature, the expected characteristics,
roles, and responsibilities of mentors are widely ranging,
hence it could be difficult to determine the effectiveness of
the mentorship programs thoroughly. As claimed by Berk and
his colleagues, criteria are rarely reported for evaluating the
effectiveness of mentoring (2005, p. 66). In some of these
institutions where the mentoring programs are applied such
as Harvard University, University of Oxford, Michigan State
University, University of Vermont, and University of Wisconsin,
effectiveness of mentoring programs are regularly evaluated
through research studies. For instance, in the University of
Vermont, to evaluate the effectiveness of a mentoring program,
a questionnaire was administered to both mentors and
mentees about the details of the mentoring process and their
suggestions for the improvement of the program. The faculty
mainly mentioned the benefits and positive contributions of
the programs (The University of Vermont, 2017). Similarly,
Peluchette and Scandura (2000) conducted a study with 430 faculty members and they found that new faculty members
having a mentor had significantly more career success than the
ones having no mentor.
In Turkey, the issue of mentoring for new faculty and mentoring
programs are very novel; therefore, the studies mainly
focus on mentoring of teacher candidates or other professional
groups (Rakıcıoğlu-Söylemez, 2012; Yirci, 2009). In addition,
mentoring programs in higher education institutions are generally
include the ones conducted for graduates and students. In
such programs, the graduates of the higher education institution
guide and support students already enrolled to a specific
program. Some of these graduate student mentoring programs
are conducted in following universities Boğaziçi, Yıldız Teknik,
and Bilkent in Turkey. Moreover, in higher education context,
there has also been a culture of appointing a research assistant
to a professor, which can be regarded as an example of
mentorship or apprenticeship relationship although this application
is not a systematic program as in faculty mentorship. In
such relationship, the experienced faculty members supervise
assistants throughout their graduate studies and they also
become role-models for graduate students as an academician,
instructor, and researcher. In the national and international
literature, it is possible to find studies on the evaluation of
this supervisory system (Çelik, 2013; Gatfield, 2005; Le &
Seale, 2007; Tonbul, 2014). These studies mostly focus on the
graduate students journey of Ph.D and their relationship and
interactions with their supervisors during this journey; changing
supervisory styles, and effective selection and training
of doctoral students. It is suggested in most of these studies
that there is a need for developing more systematic training
programs in advisory and supervisory system at universities to
better respond to the academic needs of graduate students,
who are the future academicians. On the other hand, the focus
of this study is different, which is mentoring of the new faculty
through a systematic program applied at the higher education
institution. As also explained above, faculty mentoring in higher
education institutions is a new topic and such systematic
programs are not commonly applied in Turkey.
The mentoring program at the university where this study
was conducted aims to facilitate the adaptation of new faculty
members to the institution, inform them about the academic
culture, services and offices at the university; enlarge their professional
network and increase their feeling of belongingness
and support their career development. The mentoring program
is a part of a New Faculty Development Program (NFDP) that
has been applied each year in the university since 2011. NFDP
is obligatory for all newly appointed faculty members at the
university. The program has ten modules to be completed in
an academic year. Such as Academic Life at the University and
Career Development, Education and Instruction, Community
Service, Campus Life, Research and Development, Cooperation
with the Industry. As an optional module of NFDP, mentoring
is offered to new faculty members. The new faculty apply for
mentoring using an application form that includes questions
regarding their mentor preferences such as department or faculty
of the mentor. Then, based on the number of applicants and their preferences, an invitation letter is sent to senior
professors. Upon responding to invitation letter positively,
senior professors are matched as mentors with the mentees
who were volunteered to join the program. The separate
meetings are held with mentors and mentees to inform both
groups of participants about the mentoring process, possible
topics to be covered, roles of mentors and mentees. After the
meetings both mentors and mentees participate a reception
where mentees and mentors meet each other. The mentoring
program includes minimum of six mentoring sessions; and the
effectiveness of the program is evaluated using short evaluation
form completed by mentors and mentees. However, there is a
need for a more comprehensive evaluation of the programs to
better understand its effectiveness and contributions to both
parties. Within these regards, this study aimed to evaluate
the effectiveness of the mentoring program conducted at the
specified higher education institution so that mentors, mentees,
and the institution could benefit more from the program
and the program could be improved. The faculty mentoring is a
very new topic in Turkey; thus the study might provide valuable
information to other institutions which are planning to develop
and implement such mentoring programs.
The current study was designed as a phenomenological study,
one of the qualitative study methods. In phenomenological
studies, researchers collect more in-depth and detailed data
about a certain phenomenon from the participants of the
study mostly through interviews (Yıldırım & Şimşek, 2011).
In the current study, the views and ideas on the effectiveness
of the implemented mentoring program were analyzed using
one-to-one interviews with the participants.
The population of the study involved all mentors and mentees
participating the mentoring program in the specified institution.
Using a purposive sampling method, the information-rich
and voluntary sample was selected from this population.
First of all, an invitation letter via e-mail was sent to faculty
members who were taking part in mentoring program either
as a mentee or mentor. The invitation letter explained the
purpose of the study, questions to be asked in the interview.
24 mentors and 24 mentees were contacted via email. Among
all, eight mentors and nine mentees accepted the invitation
to take part in the study. All mentors were professors; and all
mentees were instructors or assistant professors as they were
new faculty appointed to their position in the last 5 years. The
demographic characteristics of mentors and mentees can be
seen in Table 1 below.
Data Collection Tools
As the data collection tool, two parallel interview schedules
were prepared by the researchers in line with the literature
and purposes of the study. The ethical approval was also taken
from universitys Human Subjects Ethics Committee for the
data collection tools. The Mentor and Mentee Interview Forms
were composed of two sections. The first section included four questions inquiring the demographic characteristics of
the participants; and the second section had nine open-ended
questions on the mentoring program. The sample interview
questions were What do you think about the benefits of mentoring
programs for mentees and mentors? or Would you
suggest other new faculty members to take part in mentoring
program in the university? Why/why not?
Data Collection Procedures
After determining the sample of the study, an appointment
for the interview was made by the researchers with each participant.
The interviews were conducted in the office of the
participants by the researchers and were recorded upon the
permission of the interviewees. Before asking the interview
questions, researchers explained the purpose of the study to
the participants. Interviews lasted between 30 to 60 minutes.
The descriptive analysis was used to analyze the qualitative
data obtained through interviews, in which researchers aimed
to code the data under relevant predetermined themes formulated
based on the research questions. Within this respect,
the collected qualitative data were firstly transcribed verbatim
by the researchers and then coded under the themes. The
researchers also made use of direct quotations to support
The analysis of qualitative data was resulted in five major
themes in line with the purposes of the study. These themes
were as follows: perspectives of mentoring experience, process
of mentoring, problems and barriers encountered, benefits of
mentoring, and suggestions regarding improvement of the
program. In each theme, the relevant results were described
by comparing the views of both mentors and mentees.
Perspectives of Mentoring Experience
The mentors and mentees were asked to find a metaphor to
describe their mentoring experience in the study. The mentees
used the following descriptions and metaphors: giving directions
to a person who got lost, scaffolding, modeling, being a
voluntary guide, master-apprenticeship relationship, teaching
a bird how to fly, learning to dance, and supervising process.
The common view mentoring among mentees was learning
from an experienced faculty. One of the mentees stated that:
It is the process of describing a direction to a confused person
and to help him or her to find a way. Similarly, two mentees
defined the mentor as a guide and one of them used the metaphor
of brotherly relationship but at a certain distance.
Another mentee stated:
Most of the time, I, felt like a bird trying to learn something.
The mentor here tells how to fly verbally
. But you have to do
what is needed. In other words, I have to fly as a bird, but I have
some concerns and worries at that point about my profession.
Still, I thought that this is something I need to do alone.
One of the mentees described mentoring relationship as follows:
You are learning a new type of dance and the teacher is showing
.you are trying to imitate him/her as much as you can see
.when I compare with the ideal mentoring,
my experiences in this process was like watching the show of
the mentor. There was an impression like the lights are on me
and I was in the shadow just watching from the background of
the show. It was like teaching by showing off.
The mentee using the metaphor of scaffolding defined it as
supporting the mentees considering their needs and without
limiting their abilities. Lastly, another mentee used the metaphor
of master-apprentice relationship for the mentoring
experience. The mentee also added that masters role is to
teach new things, but apprentices needed to first understand
what the mastery is.
On the other hand, mentors described the mentoring experience
as a two-way intergenerational knowledge transfer,
master-apprentice relationship, mutual development, being a
model, sharing experiences, brotherhood, and gardening of a
young sapling (mentor as a gardener).
About the mentoring experience, one of the mentors stated:
At first, it comes to my mind that it is an apprenticeship, but it
is not. Because this is something different. In apprenticeship,
master is more knowledgeable and the apprentice is the one
who will develop competency. Here, there is a mutual learning
it is like a balanced apprenticeship, knowledge sharing,
Another mentor explained: we can call the mentor as a model.
In another word, guide. The successful person shares his/
her experiences on how to succeed. A pathfinder.
The mentor using the metaphor of gardening a young sapling
made the following explanation:
I would liken the new faculty to a sapling, because it would be
difficult to stand and to take root for a young sapling. But when
it learns the earth, when it is watered properly, it grows and
greens. The start could be challenging but then it roots fast
. I see the mentoring as fastening the process of
rooting, helping the sapling cope with the difficulties, watering
it, supporting the adaptation period and protecting.
As seen from the mentors and mentees descriptions and metaphors
mentioned above, they shared both common and differing
views on mentoring. Although the participants described
their perspectives on mentoring based on their own gains and
experiences, they mostly agreed on that mentoring is the process
of mutual learning and sharing relationship between the
experienced faculty and the new faculty.
Process of Mentoring and Issues Discussed
In the study, the participants were also asked to mention the
process of mentoring, including the number, length, structure,
and topics shared. First of all, the mentors and mentees met
approximately five times during the mentoring program. These
meetings were mostly done by having an appointment beforehand
and the pairs met at lunch or at their offices. In some
cases, the mentees let the mentors determine what to talk
about during the meetings.
The mentors and mentees reported the topics discussed
mostly during this process as teaching and research. Under the
heading of teaching, instructional methods and techniques,
student assessment and grading, teaching large classes, course
syllabi, designing a course together, getting prepared for lessons,
and student participation were discussed. The research
related topics included project development, funding opportunities
and budgets, publishing in journals, attending scientific
meetings, research collaborations.
Apart from teaching and research, they talked about other
topics such as requirements of being tenured, dynamics and
culture of the institute/department, administrative duties,
career opportunities, academic standards and ethics, time
management, interdisciplinary studies, co-supervising theses,
academic loneliness and psychological support, lack of support
in the department, problems of adaptation and belongingness,
and housing needs.
In relation to the above discussed issues, one of the mentors
stated that they mostly talked about academic issues as
expected, however, personal problems were also discussed
considering the needs of the mentee. About the whole process,
one of the mentors explained:
We generally met during the lunch time
developed naturally. I shared and he/she shared certain issues.
We did not determine an issue beforehand. However, I mostly
shared my experiences and he/she did not ask much.
About the process of mentoring, one of the mentees said that
they did not determine a structured program for their meetings.
He continued that they met whenever they were available
especially when there was a need to talk to his/her mentor. On
the issues they talked about, one of the mentees pointed out:
I talked about everything about my career. I especially asked
about the system of getting tenure and official documents to
be prepared as I am about to apply for tenure position. He told
me the system and the types of questions that could be asked
in the oral exam. He shared his experiences as he is taking part
in such exams.
The responses of the participating mentors and mentees generally
revealed that they met when they needed and talked
about the issues on which they need support from an experienced
faculty. Therefore, the process and content were shaped
by each pair with the guidance of mentors.
Problems and Barriers Encountered During the Mentoring
The mentors and mentees were all asked about the problems
and barriers they experienced during the mentoring program.
Among all mentees, five of them mentioned that they had no
problems or barriers during the process. As the reasons for
not having any problem, they pointed out knowing the mentor
in advance and working together beforehand, not feeling the
generation gap, and the mentors attentiveness and communication
skills. One of the mentees stated that: We had no
problem, as we did not have a generation gap
a responsive person. Similarly, another mentee said: There
was really no problem. She/he called me to meet
very attentive and contacted me
.there was no felt generation
The other four mentees mainly reported the following barriers
and problems in mentoring relationship: time difficulties
(mentors being too busy to meet), gaps between the mentee
and mentor (generation, gender, social status), and not feeling
comfortable with the mentor (formal relationship). One of
them claimed that they had difficulties to find time to meet
and the first meeting was a bit worrying for her. She also mentioned
having a generation gap together with the differences
in relation to gender and social status. She continued: He/
she called me with my name. Although I am not a very formal
person, I would prefer to be called as professor. He/she saw
me as his/her student. The mentee also pointed out that their
conditions were very different with the mentor. She was a new
mother and had different responsibilities besides the academic
ones, however, the mentor was very professional and experienced.
On the other hand, when the mentors responses regarding
problems and barriers encountered during the mentoring
relationship were examined, it was seen that three of them
reported that there was no problem in the process. The main
problem was expressed as finding a common time to meet
with the mentee due to busy schedules of both parties. About
the problem, one of the mentors explained:
There was a time problem. We were both busy. Actually, this
is a dilemma, because the experienced person can be busier
and, of course, the new faculty, too. However, the other person
(mentee) did not request to meet, either. I think he/she should
On the same problem, another mentor made the following
comment, which could also imply the importance of motivation
for handling the possible problems and barriers.
the problem of getting together, planning the time for both
of us. However, we still completed the program, since our
motivation was high. If the motivation of the faculty (mentors
and mentees) is low, then it could be more difficult meet and
arrange the time. Therefore, the motivation and the desire to
help should be high.
Benefits of the Program as Perceived by the Faculty
Besides the barriers and problems, benefits of the mentoring
program for mentors and mentees were also asked to the
participants in the study. The findings indicated that all of the
respondents believed in the necessity of the program and they
articulated the overall usefulness of mentoring for mentors and
mentees. Each of the interviewees listed certain benefits of the
program for mentors and mentees considering his/her experience.
The both groups generally referred to the benefits of the
program for mentors as opportunity to meet and learn about
a new generation, learn new things from others (new perspectives,
ideas, applications, etc.) and share his/her own ideas and
experiences. A mentee explained the benefit as follows: The
mentor could have a chance to look from the perspective of a
new faculty. An opportunity to know the new faculty. I think
the program could also be useful for providing professional
satisfaction. On the other hand, for the same issue, one of
the mentors emphasized the significance of working together
with a mentee and learning from him/her. The mentor stated:
for me it was a great learning opportunity and added that
they both learned from each other. Only two of the mentees
thought that the program would not provide any benefit to the
Having an opportunity to learn from an experienced faculty,
being able to ask the questions in mind, getting support and
help on professional and personal issues, getting social support,
developing and increasing belongingness to the institution,
having a chance to develop joint projects and enhance
professional network were regarded as the benefits of the
program by mentors and mentees. One of the mentees who
had a mentor from his department stated that:
I, now, have a person whom I can consult anytime in the department.
I know to whom I should go before taking an important
decision. Firstly, I consult him and if he cant help then directs
me to another person. As my mentor and other people whom I
got connected with through my mentor have been working at
this institution for such a longer period of time and they have
more opportunities at hand. For instance, they invite me to
different settings. My mentor has many projects and, so when
he gets a new project offer and he thinks that he is overloaded
he offers me that project. This is good for me, since I want to be
included in such things (projects, settings). We work together,
we write articles.
Another mentee indicated that the getting benefit from the
program to large extend depends on the mentee, and stated: I determined the benefits. I thought how I could get benefit
from this program and requested from my mentor. Therefore,
I learnt from him. . She mentioned learning about the mission,
vision, culture and strategies of the institution besides
the departmental problems from the mentor. This mentee
also explained that the mentor is more knowledgeable and
experienced about the internal dynamics, culture, and mission
of the institution, which were important to share with the
new faculty. Moreover, they worked together on designing a
doctorate program and they contacted and collaborated easily
during this process.
One of the mentors described the importance of mentoring for
a mentee as following:
The new faculty learns how to fight during the fight, and some
of them give up and flee. Mentoring can prevent such escapes.
It can provide useful information in relation to the traditions
and the system.
Suggestions of the Faculty on the Mentoring Program
The suggestions of the faculty for the mentoring program were
grouped under two headings: suggestions on the development
of mentoring program itself and suggestions for the new faculty
and mentors. When the suggestions of the mentors for the
program were examined, it was seen that they mostly suggested
the following points to improve the program: determining
certain criteria for the selection of the mentors for mentoring
(voluntary, motivated, open-minded, experienced, having
universal standards), extending the time for mentoring (longer
time period and increasing the number of meetings), making
the program more flexible and informal, providing monitoring
and sending reminders to mentors and mentees during the
process, emphasizing the mission and culture of the institution
more in mentoring meetings, systematic evaluation of the program,
and including voluntary retired faculty to the program
About the necessity of using reminders and monitoring system
during the mentoring, the other mentor explained:
According to me, there should be a tracking system and there
should be certain deadlines. For instance, there can be reminders
with certain intervals. From time to time, we lose our contact
and we forget. In such cases, an e-mail as a reminder can
be sent to both parties. With an appropriate language, some
questions can be asked: When did you do your last meeting?
When is your next meeting? Or mentors and mentees can enter
this information to an online form in a website. This information
can be stored, so these disconnections can be prevented.
The program could be more controlled then.
About the selection of mentors, most of the mentors suggested
including voluntary and motivated faculty to the program
to increase its success. One of the mentors even suggested
removing the disinterested and unmotivated mentors from
the system. Another mentor claimed: I think the matching
of mentors and mentees is very important and volunteerism
should be critical. The age gap is also important but personality
is more important.
For the program, the suggestions of the mentees were similar
to the mentors suggestions. Most of the mentors mentioned
the importance of mentor selection for the success of the
mentoring program. Some of the mentee mentioned the significance
of mentors personality characteristics. A mentee
offered to use a form for mentor selection and continued:
Mentor selection is very critical, so a form should be developed,
a mentor selection form. The requests and preferences of people
should be regarded. More criteria need to be determined
for selection. For instance, associate professors can also be
included into the program, since this point (associate professorship)
is what mentees want to reach. But there is a long way
Other than mentor selection and characteristics of mentors,
most of the mentees, as a suggestion, focused upon having a
more structured, systematic, and controlled mentoring program
in which the duties and responsibilities of both groups
can be tracked by the institution. In order for monitoring the
process and having a more comprehensive and structured
program, one of the mentees proposed the use of an official
document including these dimensions of the academia: teaching,
research, administrative duties, and community service. In
this form, details of meetings, reflections, things to do and to
be done could be written by mentees and mentors separately.
She also suggested making the program compulsory for every
new faculty in the institution. Lastly, the mentees participating
in the study recommended distributing information packet (a
guide), having meetings including all mentors and mentees
from time to time, providing a chance to change the mentors
when not satisfied or not matched as desired.
Most of the mentors and mentees suggested this program to
both new and experienced faculty so that they can learn and
develop together, which contributes to the development of
the institution as well. However, one of the mentors suggested
the program to others but reminded the possible personal
differences and preferences that need to be taken into consideration:
I am not sure if everybody wants to do it, since it takes much
to participate such a program. You need to take it seriously and
devote yourself to it. Some of the people are really prone to do
it. But you need to be prone to work together as well. Some
can be more successful when they are alone. So, there can be
personal differences but still I suggest this program. A person
should be included into the program if she/he is the right person.
Besides, a mentee suggested the mentoring program to all new
faculty members and recommended that the mentees should
make efforts to contact with the mentors and be demanding as
much as possible. Another mentee added:
I suggest the program, otherwise you need to spend much
more time to learn all these things: Would it be better for me if
I do this? Where should I go for this? I guess it would have been
be more difficult to find answers to these questions by myself.
When you have a person (a mentor) who experienced all these processes, then you can ask him/her. This is time saving for the
To sum up, although the mentors and mentees experienced
certain problems during the mentoring process, they claimed
to get multiple benefits from this program and all of them
believed in the importance of such a program especially for
the development and adaptation of the new faculty.
This study aimed to investigate the views and suggestions of
mentors and mentees with respect to the effectiveness of
mentoring program conducted in one of the higher education
institutions in Turkey. The mentors and mentees taking voluntary
part in the study were interviewed individually to explore
their views and suggestions about the program. As mentioned
before, it is believed that the study is significant, as it evaluated
a faculty mentoring program in a higher education institution
in Turkey, where such systematic mentoring of the new faculty
as part of academic development programs are not commonplace.
Moreover, as mentoring programs are becoming more
and more popular recently at universities in other countries,
the study could provide an international perspective and a
model for other institutions as well. This qualitative study was
resulted with critical findings. The participants of the study,
the mentors and mentees, expressed their views in relation to
their perspectives on mentoring experience, process of mentoring
and issues discussed, problems and barriers, benefits, and
suggestions pertaining to the program.
To start with, both mentors and mentees viewed their mentoring
experience as a learning and sharing process in which an
experienced faculty guide the new faculty. Although the role of
mentees was resembled to an apprentice by some mentees,
both the mentors and mentees also underlined the mutual
learning that took place during the process. This finding
showed that the program served for its major goals. As cited in
the literature, mentoring might be a life-altering relationship
that inspires mutual growth, learning and development (Bean,
Lucas, & Hyers, 2014, p. 57). However, it was also seen that, in
a few cases, mentors might have been more dominant in the
relationship, only telling their own story, deeds, and what are
needed to succeed in academic life. Some of the metaphors
mentees used to describe the mentoring experience such as a
bird learning to fly alone or learning to dance by just looking
at the dancer underlined how mentees perceived their role
in the process. Mullen and Schunk (2010) also mentioned the
threat that peer mentoring can be hierarchical and limiting
for protégés. It is suggested that the mentors should not only
be role models for the new faculty but also be encouraging,
supportive and provide space for the other party. As pointed
out by Cawyer, Simonds and Davis (2002), it should be remembered
that through mentoring, a new faculty member may
become a vital and productive member of the professoriate
(p. 239) or they might be discouraged and lose their confidence.
Therefore, the experienced faculty need to regard the
new ones as their colleagues who are just at the beginning of
their career and need inspiration and motivation to walk on the way with autonomy and self-confidence. In relation to this,
Lechuga (2014) suggests approaching mentoring process with
the intention of creating autonomy supported environments
so that the junior faculty might feel more efficacious and capable
It was also found in the study that each pair followed different
structure in terms of organizing meetings. The issues discussed
during these meetings changed, in accordance with the needs
and interests of the mentees. The mentors and mentees mostly
discussed about teaching and research. Slightly different from
the findings of this study, Feldman, Arean, Marshall, Lovett,
and OSullivan (2010) found that the mentees most frequently
discussed about obtaining funding; only some of them talked
about teaching. This shows that needs can change from institution
to institution and person to person.
Another finding of this study on the mentoring process is that
mentors generally guided the process and determined what
to discuss, however, in some cases, when the mentees openly
expressed their needs and asked the questions in mind, the
mentors answered the questions and shared their opinions. It
was found that the meetings unfolded naturally in time. As a
result, some of the mentors and mentees could not find time
to meet and could not complete the program, which was also
asserted as one of the problems in the program.
The finding common time to meet was reported by both mentors
and mentees as a main problem. This might be the result
of how the mentoring program is formed. In the institution
where the study is conducted the mentoring program is based
on volunteerism, only sets minimum number of meetings to be
held, is lack of formal monitoring system during the process.
Flexibility is something that should be a part of such programs,
however, some of the participants recommended a more structured
program. At the beginning of the program, a presentation
was done, a written guide was provided to the participants,
and a cocktail was held to inform the mentors and mentees
in relation to the program. Nevertheless, the findings of the
study suggested that there is also a need to follow and monitor
both parties during the process to prevent any disconnections
and motivate them to continue the program. In academia, busy
working schedules might hinder meetings, especially when
the program is not obligatory in the institution. Considering
this, it can be suggested that a third party for instance the
teaching and learning center at the university- should monitor
the progress of mentoring program and contact with mentors
and mentees from time to time to learn about the progress
and provide the needed support if any. Lumpkin (2011) also
proposes formative evaluations of mentoring programs to
be done at regular basis by the coordinator to see how things
are going each mentor and mentee (p. 361). A practical solution
might be the collection of written feedback, which can be
entered to an online system at regular intervals. The necessity
of monitoring system was also mentioned by some of the mentors
and mentees in the study.
Apart from time as a shared barrier for both groups, other
problems were mentioned by the mentees. These problems were the felt gaps between the mentor and mentee such as
generation, gender, or social status, formal relationships, and
not being comfortable to talk. These problems might signify
the importance of mentor selection and careful matching,
which were proposed by the participants in the study as well.
At this point, the suggestions of the faculty on the improvement
of the program should be highlighted, as these suggestions
might offer good solutions for preventing the problems
identified in the study. The recommendations of the faculty are
thought to be valuable for increasing the effectiveness of the
upcoming mentoring programs. As mentioned, the mentees
suggestions highlighted the need for creating a system for
matching the mentees with mentors and for mentor selection
in the most fitting and responsive way. As researchers, it is also
proposed that the needs, interests, expectations, and gender
of the participants should be considered more carefully and
the choices of both groups should be paid enough attention.
While including the mentors in the program, their motivation,
personal characteristics, positive attitude towards new faculty
need to be well understood besides their academic success
In conjunction with the suggestions of the mentees, the mentors
also referred to mentor selection as one of the critical issues
for an effective implementation of mentoring. At this point, it
should also be noted that all parties in the mentoring program
mentors, mentees, and the university administration- should
have a clear understanding and agreement upon mentoring
before starting the program (Kohn, 2014). Other than these,
the participants suggested using a systematic monitoring and
follow-up system with reminders, extending the time for the
program, making it more structured and comprehensive by
also allowing certain flexibility. To prevent the possible problems
pertaining to dyadic mentoring, different mentoring models
such as group peer mentoring and community of practice
model- are also suggested and studied by researchers in the
literature (Pololi & Evans, 2015; Skaniakos, Penttinen, & Lairio,
2014; Smith, Calderwood, Dohm, & Gill Lopez, 2013). Moreover,
Lumpkin (2011) defines several approaches to mentoring
such as formal, informal, peer, consortia, intra-departmental,
inter-departmental, or research mentoring. The pros and cons
of these approaches are also reported based on a review of
literature. These models and approaches might be examined
carefully for the upcoming mentoring programs.
On the other hand, all of the participants suggested the current
mentoring program to other colleagues. This finding is
consistent with the literature. In one of the recent studies,
Bean, Lucas, and Hyers (2014) also found that the mentors
and mentees participating in the mentoring program in West
Chester University recommended the program to other faculty.
Moreover, the mentors and mentees pointed out the overall
usefulness of the program and listed the shared benefits such
as opportunity to meet a new person and learn from him/
her. Specifically, the mentors acknowledged the contributions
of the program to their understanding and empathizing the
new generation. One the other side, the program helped the
mentees reach valuable information and support in a relatively short time. Other benefits were reported by the mentees as
the opportunities for developing joint projects, expanding the
network (meeting new faculty with the help of the mentor),
and increasing belongingness to the institution. The literature
also cites a number of benefits including the above-mentioned
ones (Carnell, MacDonald, & Askew, 2006; Johnson, 2007;
Kay & Hinds, 2009; Lechuga, 2014; Mathews, 2003; Schrodt,
Cawyer, & Sanders, 2006). In one of these, the researchers
surveyed all new faculty as mentees in their institution to see
whether they benefited from mentoring or not (Feldman et al.,
2010). They found that the mentees who had mentors were
more satisfied with being at work and they obtained higher
academic self-efficacy. In a more recent study, Lechuga (2014)
interviewed the faculty on mentoring process; and she found
that all participants found mentoring beneficial. As also proposed
by McLaughlin (2010) mentoring contributes much to
the faculty career development.
As the findings of the current study and the literature emphasized,
faculty mentoring has valuable gains and benefits for
higher education institutions. Follow-up studies are needed to
better understand the long-term benefits and contributions of
the faculty mentoring program. As recommended by Zellers,
Howard, and Barcic (2008), the impacts of such mentoring programs
should be thoroughly examined by the program implementers
and developers so that it can be understood whether
these programs meet the needs of the faculty having different
characteristics, aspirations, and expectations. Therefore, longterm
contributions of the program should also be investigated.
As faculty mentoring is a very recent issue in Turkish universities,
the study might contribute not only to the institution
where this study was conducted but also it might provide an
insight and example for an effective mentoring program for
other institutions while developing such mentoring programs.
Moreover, the study is thought to contribute to the national
and international literature on faculty development in higher
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