Theses Doctoral

Investigating the complexities of mentoring teachers through an inquiry of mentors’ perspectives

Duff, Georgina Wood

Mentoring has the potential to benefit preservice, new teachers, and experienced teachers, but it is a complex process with few agreements about what might make it most effective. Furthermore, due to teacher demographics affecting the availability of veteran teachers, mentors are consequently drawn from various career points, and some of them have few years of teaching experience. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the complexities of mentoring, particularly of the role that age, experience, and situational factors might play in their work.

To pursue this study, I used these research questions: What are the goals and approaches of these six mentors in mentoring new teachers? How do these six mentors carry out that approach? How are mentors’ perspectives impacted by situational factors within a formal program such as working conditions and expectations? I examined mentors’ perspectives about their experiences to give insight as to how to develop the overall support structure of formal mentoring for new teachers.

Through in‐depth qualitative research interviews and document analysis, I investigated mentors’ perspectives on their particular set of experiences within a formal mentoring program. Through inductive analysis, my study yielded information about whether and how mentors at different career points identify and understand their mentoring. Even though I anticipated experience would impact the goals and approaches of mentors, my first key finding was that these mentors with varying amounts of teaching experience shared similar goals and approaches.

The second key finding was that situational and programmatic factors supported collaboration among the mentors and supported the development of common goals and a common approach. The third key finding was that the structure of the VA program helped to foster collective responsibility for the new teachers amongst the mentor team, and this may have reinforced the mentors’ similar goals and approaches. Given these findings that years of teaching experience may not always be a critical factor in mentors’ approaches, this study shows the potential importance of shared experience and socialization within a mentor team, and scaffolding within a mentoring program.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Hatch, Thomas
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 24, 2023