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Within the past decade two comprehensive reviews of the literature studying mentoring programs in education have been published. Ehrich et al. (2004) published a structured analysis of 300 plus research-based articles on mentoring across three disciplines (education, business and medical) in an attempt to make valid inferences about the nature and outcomes of mentoring. Their review confirmed mentoring across the disciplines as an overwhelmingly positive experience for the mentor, the mentee (protégé), and the organization. They concluded, “mentoring has enormous potential to bring about learning, personal growth, and development for professionals” (p 536). Four years later, three authors traced the evolution of mentoring programs in the United States in business and academe. Their findings affirmed that “early and present day mentoring literature indicates that protégés, mentors, and organizations benefit from these learning relationships” (p. 557). Carr (as cited in Zellers, Howard,&Barcic, 2008) noted the literature also indicated that ‘faculty with mentors feel more confident than their peers, are more likely to have a productive research career, feel greater support for their research, and report higher career satisfaction' (p. 34).

Recent Peer Mentoring Pilot Programs . Recent university-sanctioned peer mentoring programs have been created to help bridge the gap between what people know, what they think they know, and what they ultimately need to know in order to be successful in their new position, especially in the area of research and publication. A group of non-tenured faculty at both the University of Alabama Birmingham (Searby et al., 2009) and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Karanovich, et al., 2009) lead peer mentoring pilot studies for non-tenured faculty members designed to assist junior faculty in satisfying the three basic psychological needs common to all of us as human beings: to be capable, contributing, and connected (Adler, 1930).

Both pilot programs proved successful in providing ongoing support and knowledge to the non-tenured faculty, increasing non-tenured faculty scholarly publications, and winning support of the institution’s administrators. The Support Network for Assistant Professors (S.N.A.P.) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (Searby et al., 2010) and Thinking, Writing, Inquiring, and Learning (T.W.I.L) piloted at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Karanovich, Searby,&Rosnick, 2009) were structured peer mentoring programs designed to provide mutual support to non-tenured faculty. Participants, all non-tenured faculty members, felt the peer mentoring activities were helpful in answering their questions about tenure, promotion and scholarly work (Karanovich et al., 2009; Searby et al., 2010).

Phase i: lessons learned revisited

The Phase I Survey results affirmed there were many misperceptions of what the expectations and actual job duties are in higher education by those serving as administrators in PK-12 schools. The Phase I results helped to better inform those in PK-12 education looking to transition into academia. The results provided strategies to help aspiring professors to “better their chances” for success during the tenure process by starting early to establish a scholarly research agenda and consider opportunities to provide service to other school districts and the university community. Survey respondents recommended that seeking adjunct professor positions prior to making a complete transition could help the person seeking to make a career move into higher education better prepared by providing opportunities to teach adult learners, prepare syllabi, and design university level courses. It was also suggested that practitioners begin doing research within their own schools and publishing the results or consider partnering with a current university faculty member to serve as a co-author of a research study.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Education leadership review special issue: portland conference, volume 12, number 3 (october 2011). OpenStax CNX. Oct 17, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11362/1.5
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