Academic journal article
By Cohen, Norman H.
Adult Learning , Vol. 14, No. 1
In the early 1990s, I had finally reached what most doctoral students would agree is that memorable point when a dissertation topic is the only remaining requirement on the obsessed radar screen. I too had heard all of the stories about ABD (all but dissertation) scholars who for a myriad of reasons, had never completed the doctorate. Fortunately, of the three mentors who were significant influences in my own life and educational travels, the third was my own doctoral advisor--Dr. Michael Galbraith.
As a teacher myself at the Community College of Philadelphia since 1968, I had gradually learned that my continuing one-to-one dialogues with students outside of class were often as important to their sustainability as adult learners as the quality of instruction inside the classroom. My own cumulative experience certainly validated what my later research would reveal--cognitive and affective connections engaged in at an interpersonal level outside of class were essential factors in supporting the retention and enrichment for many adult learners, especially those from nontraditional backgrounds (Jacobi, 1991).
Development of the Instrument
The convergence of my own life history, my professional work as an instructor, and my positive experience in the early 1990s as a graduate student in adult education led almost naturally to a serious interest in a dissertation topic about the value of mentoring for adult learners in college. I conducted the typical comprehensive literature review, with the preliminary idea that I would collect the already available instruments relevant to mentoring practice and then design my specific dissertation project. To my surprise, after exhaustive research, I discovered that no valid and reliable scales or inventories existed either for pragmatic use as an evaluation tool by participants in mentoring programs or as an instrument for conducting scholarly studies of mentoring as an educational activity.
After considerable consultation with my doctoral advisor, I decided on a two-part plan: (1) to determine if there were core mentoring behaviors, and then, if justifiable, (2) to develop an evaluation instrument that would enable professionals to assess their own interpersonal competencies as mentors to adult learners. I really had no preconceived idea about what the research would ultimately produce, or if a useable self-assessment scale was feasible.
When the complex project was finally completed, using a large community college as the target population, my own qualitative and quantitative research demonstrated two primary findings: A conceptual model of a composite Complete Mentor Role could be devised based on six separate mentoring behavioral dimensions (Figure 1), and a self-assessment scale grounded in adult psychology and learning could be developed that would (1) reflect the extent to which a mentor was effective as a practitioner in the cumulative Complete Mentor Role, as well as (2) identify the mentoring proficiencies in each of the six distinct interpersonal competencies. The new instrument was entitled the Principles" of Adult Mentoring Scale (Cohen, 1993).
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
The Complete Mentor Role
From an adult education perspective, academic and workplace mentoring can be considered as a one-to-one relationship in which mentors are similar to adult educators and mentees to adult learners. The two prototypes--the Complete Mentor Role and the Informed Mentee (Table 1)--should be applied as a blueprint to guide the development of adult mentoring relationships during the extended time frame typical of most organizationally sponsored mentoring programs. Although there is a general pattern of interpersonal development that will occur during the early, middle, and later phases of interaction, both mentors and mentees should be informed at the start that the six behavioral dimensions of the Complete Mentor Role are not expected to unfold in a rigid order that directly matches every specific action listed for that particular dimension of mentoring
Also, both mentors and mentees should be initially prepared at orientations to engage in mentoring dialogues and activities as mutually active participants. …