Mentoring in All Its Varieties

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Science  02 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6183, pp. 450
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6183.450-b

Mentoring is ubiquitous throughout the academic system, with mentors and mentees representing a diverse set of backgrounds, skill levels, and priorities. As the mentor culture expands to include both formal and informal peer connections between faculty members, as well as between students, the research community struggles to arrive at a single definition of what exactly mentoring is. Rather than add another definition to the mix, Dawson instead develops a framework for mentoring relationships that is capable of absorbing the current variety. Through an ongoing and nonsystematic survey of mentoring literature, an initial mentoring framework of 20 elements was created. Examples of these elements include selection: how mentors and mentees are chosen; matching: how mentoring relationships are created; and time: both length of relationship and the frequency of meetings during the relationship. Over a 5-year period, this framework was continually refined and reduced to 16 elements, on the basis of feedback from presentations of the framework at conferences and mentoring workshops and through consultations with researchers from education and human resources management. This work will be beneficial for anyone looking to institute a mentoring intervention, as this framework identifies important decision points around which proposals can be designed.

Educ. Res. 43, 137 (2014).

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