Academic journal article Journal of Adult Education

The Complete Mentor Role: Understanding the Six Behavioral Functions

Academic journal article Journal of Adult Education

The Complete Mentor Role: Understanding the Six Behavioral Functions

Article excerpt

To enhance the mentoring process, it is imperative that mentors understand the functions and roles associated with what is means to be a "complete mentor". This article discusses these behavioral functions of the mentor, which were discovered through the development of the "Principles of Adult Mentoring Scale". It concludes with some thoughts about the benefits and implications of becoming a "complete mentor".

Mentoring is assuming national importance as a vital component in the personal, educational, and professional experiences of adult learners. Mentoring is cited as an important element in understanding the development and growth of men and women (Daloz, 1986; Levinson, et al., 1978). It has also been a topic of discussion related to enrichment possibilities in the student personnel and development functions in higher education (Gaskill, 1993; Jacobi, 1991). Mentoring has found its place in higher education settings as a means of improving the instructional process, student and faculty relations, professional enhancement, and faculty development (Bova, 1995; Cohen, 1995a; Evanoski-Orsatti, 1988; Galbraith & Zelenak, 1991; Schlossburg, Lynch, and Chickering, 1989; St. Clair, 1994; Wunsch, 1994). In addition, the mentoring process has been an important element in the career development of women who sought to enhance advancement and increase their power and influence within organizations according to Bova (1995). Cohen (1995a), Fagenson (1989), Galbraith and Cohen (1995a), Kram (1985), Murray (1991), Turban and Dougherty (1994) and Zey (1984) have investigated mentorship in relationship to organizational and career developement, leadership potential, and learning within business and industry settings.

To a large extent, however, the personal, educational, and professional significance of mentoring will depend on the ability of the mentor to develop and maintain a relevant interpersonal relationship with the mentee (Cohen, 1995a). Mentors who are provided with a proper orientation of the mentoring model of learning will be more likely to nurture effective mentor-mentee interactions and thereby successfully utilize the cumulative interactive potential of the total mentoring experience.

The primary purpose of this article is to examine "the complete mentor role" and its six related behavioral functions, which were determined through the development and validation of Cohen's (1993) "The Principles of Adult Mentoring Scale". Defining mentoring is first detailed and then followed by a brief explanation of Cohen's scale. Next the six behavioral functions that constitute the complete mentor role is presented. The article concludes with some thoughts concerning the benefits and implications for mentors who accept the "complete mentor role".

Defining Mentoring

Mentoring is a process of intellectual, psychological, and affective development based on meetings of relative frequency scheduled over a reasonably extended time-frame. Mentors accept personal responsibility as competent and trustworthy nonparental figures for the significant growth of other individuals. Galbraith and Zelenak (1991, p. 126) suggest that mentoring is "a powerful emotional and passionate interaction whereby the mentor and protege experience personal, professional, and intellectual growth and development."

The ideal mentoring relationship can be characterized as a series of mentor-mentee dialogues noted for collaborative critical thinking and planning, mutual participation in specific goal setting and decision-making, shared evaluation regarding the results of actions, and joint reflection on the worth of areas identified for progress. The premise of mentoring as one-to-one developmental learning is that an important adult educator/adult learner relationship will be formed that enables mentees to take appropriate risks, deal better with stress and uncertainty, develop more self-confidence, make more informed decisions, and thus allow for more likely attainment of current and future personal, educational, and professional objectives. …

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