Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education

By Anne Brockbank; Ian McGill | Go to book overview

14
Mentoring

In this chapter we relate the principles of reflective practice to mentoring in higher education. True mentoring incorporates reflective dialogue, and can therefore offer a context in which a teacher in higher education may encourage reflective learning, for students and colleagues, through their role as mentor. We introduce the concept of mentoring and some possible applications of mentoring ideas in higher education, followed by a brief summary of mentoring research and the key skills for mentors. We complete our chapter with some mentoring 'stories' , where we seek to highlight the success factors, and the reflective nature of true mentoring. Readers may like to read the mentoring 'stories' first and put them into the context of good practice.

Many teachers in higher education are asked to mentor newly appointed members of staff new to teaching, who may lack experience of teaching in higher education. Mentoring is the most frequently cited method of supporting teachers enrolled on the Certificate in Teaching and Learning (Bourner et at, 2003). Mentors are commonly used in order to support the participants in relating what they have learnt in the course directly back to their teaching practice. In addition as academic and personal tutors, teachers in higher education find themselves becoming mentors to particular students. The informality of such relationships may conceal the significance for the development of students and leaves the teacher contribution (often entirely voluntary) unacknowledged and consequently perhaps, not recognized or valued.

So what is mentoring and what does the role of mentor entail in higher education? Staff or students who are asked to be mentors may like to know the purpose of the activity and they may well ask 'what's it for?'

Mentoring has been defined as 'a relationship between two people with learning and development as its purpose' (Megginson and Garvey, 2004: 2). A range of mentoring approaches has been identified by Brockbank and McGill (2006), against a theoretical framework, which 'places' approaches

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