Dr. Amy Anderson’s provides insights on cultural humility development in adults serving as mentors for youth

Dr. Amy Anderson’s new study provides insights on cultural humility development for adults serving as mentors for youth. Megyn Jasman recently had the opportunity to ask Dr. Anderson about her findings, recommendations for researchers exploring cultural humility in mentoring relationships, as well as implications for formal youth mentoring programs.

Q: In your findings, you mentioned the identification of six mechanisms in which mentoring may have influenced a mentor’s development of cultural humility. Did one in particular stand out or surprise you? Did they align with your prior knowledge of cultural humility in mentoring contexts? 

One of the findings that is most exciting to me is that several studies reported mentors’ future intentions for action and community contributions. Yet, limited evidence examined whether these plans came to fruition. To me, this points to future research on how mentoring may be a catalyst for community engagement during and after formal mentoring participation. If we believe that mentoring can also impact adults, in what ways do mentors take the lessons they’ve learned from mentoring to be further mobilized to volunteer, mentor, or advocate in their communities?  

Q: You mention the lifelong process of developing cultural humility, including self-learning, reflection, and action towards social justice. How do you recommend measuring mentors’ progress in cultural humility? What tools or methodologies do you recommend that future mentoring researchers and practitioners use for capturing changes in mentors’ attitudes and behaviors?

In an ideal world, mixed-methods research conducted longitudinally would be useful to capture changes to mentor cultural humility. In my view, mixed-methods research can help to understand the nuanced ways that mentor identity, motivations for mentoring, and interactions with youth influence their understanding of themselves and the world around them. Additionally, person-centered approaches (e.g., latent class analysis) might be a useful approach to study mentor cultural humility over time given that it is complex and encompasses multiple aspects. 

With regard to quantitative measures, the National Mentoring Resource Center recently identified measures of mentor cultural humility that have evidence within youth mentoring. These include the Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy, which assesses aspects of empathy and perspective-taking toward different racial/ethnic groups, and the Miville-Guzman Universaility-Diversity Scale, which taps into cultural humility across domains of difference (e.g., disability, race, cultural, economic). 

Q: You conclude the article by highlighting the need for mentoring programs to be more intentional in their ways of fostering cultural humility and advancing social justice. What is one way in which programs can be more intentional in this area? 

Programs can be intentional about fostering mentors’ cultural humility by providing ongoing support through training, online resources, or spaces for dialogue. As mentoring relationships develop, both youth and mentors are learning about one another’s life experiences, cultures, and identities. Providing opportunities for mentors to talk about their reflections with other mentors and with program staff may be a critical piece to turning cultural awareness into stronger relationships, and ultimately action for social change.