Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Mentoring among Faculty in Schools, Colleges, and Departments of Education

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Mentoring among Faculty in Schools, Colleges, and Departments of Education

Article excerpt

In higher education, mentoring is generally perceived as a relationship between individuals perpetuating traditional academic norms and values. How individuals transmit norms and values varies greatly (Blackburn, Chapman, & Cameron, 1981; Schuster, Wheeler, & Associates, 1990). Mentoring activities range from the professional, such as assistance with research and writing, teaching, and grant writing, to the social, including shared meals and recreational activities (Boice, 1992b; Diehl & Simpson, 1989; Wunsch, 1994). Mentoring, often an informal arrangement between colleagues, can become formal with specific goals and objectives.

Few empirical research reports on mentoring in academic settings exist. Wunsch (1994) notes, From 1980 to 1990, over 380 articles appeared in the popular press and academic journals on mentoring in business and education. In retrospect, the majority appear to be engaging in `mentoring hype'.... Supposedly, [mentoring] is easily set up and naturally done with skill and enthusiasm. In fact, little of this perception is accurate and much of what passes for `mentoring' is not mentoring at all (p. 1).

A few articles and books about faculty-to-student mentoring (e.g., Kridel, Bullough, & Shaker, 1996) exist, but reports of faculty-to-faculty mentoring in schools, colleges, and departments of education (SCDEs) are rare. During the spring 1996 semester, we conducted a survey of faculty members in the 13 SCDEs in Colorado. We investigated faculty members' attitudes, perceptions, and experiences about faculty-to-faculty mentoring so as to better understand their operational definitions of mentoring and views about effective mentoring in SCDEs. Given the increasing emphasis on establishing SCDE partnerships with K-12 schools and other organizations in addition to carrying out all of the traditional college/university faculty responsibilities, we believe the need for effective mentoring critical in SCDEs.

Our major purpose was exploratory and descriptive; we also had secondary comparative purposes. Because the 13 SCDEs in Colorado vary in institutional mission, size, and types of programs offered, we explored differences in attitudes and experiences among the faculty in the various types of SCDEs, with type defined according to the Carnegie classifications (Evangelauf, 1994) of the institutions. We explored differences among faculty respondents according to rank and gender. Gender was of particular interest, given the number of reports in the last decade showing differences in male and female faculty members' access to informal mentoring (Haring-Hidore, 1987; Wunsch & Johnsrud, 1992), perceptions about factors enhancing or prohibiting success as faculty members (Simpson, 1992), and availability of resources to support research and scholarly activities leading to promotion and tenure (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1989; Finkelstein, 1984).

Population and Sample

The population included all full-time faculty in the 13 SCDEs in public and private higher education institutions in Colorado. They include six different types of institutions according to the 1994 Carnegie classification system (Evangelauf, 1994): two Research Universities I; two Doctoral Universities I; one Doctoral University II; three Master's (Comprehensive) Universities and Colleges I; one Baccalaureate (Liberal Arts) Colleges I; and four Baccalaureate (Liberal Arts) Colleges II. To analyze our data by type of institution, we regrouped the institutions into three types: Type 1, the five institutions with doctoral programs (Research I through Doctoral II); Type 2, the three institutions awarding baccalaureate and master's degrees (all Master's I); and Type 3, the five institutions awarding baccalaureate degrees only (Baccalaureate Colleges I and II). Table 1 includes numbers of full-time SCDE faculty members in the institutions (grouped into the three general type categories); numbers and percentages of respondents; and demographic data about the faculty respondents. …

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