Building the bond: Family connection, activity engagement, and quality of the mentoring relationship in a college peer mentoring program

Erdem, G., Safi, O. A., & Savaş, E. B. (2023). Predictors of mentoring relationship quality in a college peer mentoring program: Associations with mentors’ and mentees’ perceptions of family relationships. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education.


Peer mentoring programs in higher education are designed to support incoming students in their transition and adaptation to college life (Brodeur et al., 2017), and the quality of the mentoring relationship is critical for achieving positive outcomes.

Family dynamics, including trust, loyalty, and perceived fairness, are known to shape individuals’ capacity to form and maintain relationships (Pallini et al., 2014; River et al., 2022). Erdem and colleagues (2023) explore how perceptions of family relationships influence relationship quality in a college peer mentoring program.


Participants included 629 first-year students (Mage = 18.4, 54.2% female) and 88 mentors (Mage = 20.6, 65.9% female) from a private university in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Mentors were matched with eight to ten mentees from the same department. Assessments included self-reported measures of family relationships (trust, loyalty, fairness) and mentoring relationship quality. 

Multilevel modeling was used to analyze the data, accounting for the nested structure of mentees within mentoring groups.


Mentees’ and mentors’ perceptions of loyalty in their families were positively associated with higher mentoring relationship quality.

Longer mentoring meetings and engagement in recreational activities were associated with higher mentoring relationship quality. Notably, academic activities were inversely related to mentoring relationship quality.


Findings underscore the importance of family relationships and activity type in shaping the quality of the mentoring relationship. 

Closeness in early family relationships may provide a foundation for building new, supportive relationships.

Implications for Mentors

  • Awareness of how family experiences may influence the mentoring relationship should be highlighted in mentor training, to enhance an understanding of influential factors in building a bond.
  • Programs may want to consider ways to create possibilities for social and recreational activities to strengthen bond, especially within primarily virtual mentoring relationships.
  • Given academic support may be important for many mentoring programs, programs may want to consider training mentors to balance academic support with building a personal connection. 

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