Examining the impact of mentoring practices on mentee learning for a Malaysian youth development program

Lee, K., Eric Krauss, S., Suandi, T., & Hamzah, A. (2016). Exploring the contribution of mentoring practices to mentee learning in a Malaysian youth development programme. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 21(4), 419-432.

Summarized by Ariel Ervin

Notes of Interest: Researchers conducted a correlational study on a group of Malaysian youth development program participants in order to better understand how various mentor practices reinforce mentee learning. The results indicate that that general coaching and facilitation impact new learning the most. Findings also show that while coaching contributed the most toward knowledge learning and skill acquisition, facilitation contributed the most towards attitude learning.


Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)

Within the mentoring relationship, it is generally accepted that learning takes place through the sharing and transmitting of knowledge between mentor and mentee, where mentors employ practices such as coaching, facilitation, guidance and reflection on experiences. Despite the number of studies on mentoring in the context of youth development programmes, mentoring relationship processes in youth development contexts is not well understood. Few studies have examined the variety of practices used by mentors and explored their contributions to different types of mentee learning. In an attempt to better understand this relationship, an exploratory correlational study was conducted on a group of youth development programme participants from Malaysia (N = 90) to identify how various mentoring practices enhance learning. The results showed that overall, facilitation and coaching contributed the most to new learning. While coaching showed the highest contribution to skill acquisition and knowledge learning, the contribution of facilitation was mainly towards attitude learning. Implications of the findings are discussed.


Implications (Reprinted from the Discussion)

Mentoring has been defined in many ways. As suggested by Eby, Rhodes, and Allen (2007), it is a relationship that involves the acquisition of knowledge with the primary goal of personal growth and development. Eby et al. further explain that in mentoring relationships, the bond between mentors and mentees can vary considerably. In the case of mentoring relationships that involve teachers and students in particular, the bonding experience tends to be different than in other developmental relationships. In the current study, the mentor–mentee relationships in the school where the study was conducted were comprised of teachers and students in the school. The findings suggest that mentoring relationship between teachers and students might experience a certain distance, due to the pre-existing student–teacher relationship, that will affect the type of bonding that might occur in non-teacher–student mentoring relationships. This can be explained by the ethical necessity of the professional relationship that has to be maintained between teachers and students. Teachers who play a dual role of being an educator and a mentor must uphold the delicate balance of professional ethics and integrity – often marked by a certain professional ‘distance’ – with that of a close mentor–mentee relationship.

Despite bonding not being significant in the multivariate results, bivariate results indicate that it remains an important component of mentoring. When mentors and youth spend consistent time together, bonding that is characterised by mutuality, trust and empathy will have significant benefits for youth (Rhodes & DuBois, 2008). The importance of a strong bond between the mentor and mentee cannot be denied because there is a danger of more harm than good without it (Larose, Cyrenne, Garceau, Brodeur, & Tarabulsy, 2010). Hamilton and Hamilton (2010) pointed out that a close relationship is not necessary with coaching. Nonetheless, Keller (2007) argued that bonding plays an important role in mentoring when solidified and strengthened because it allows mentors to provide better advice and guidance to their mentees. The findings here would then suggest that bonding has more to do with the establishment of the mentor–mentee relationship and acts as an indirect, rather than direct contributor to learning, while the other facets of mentoring, i.e. coaching and facilitating, act as the bridge(s) for learning to occur.


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