What are the benefits to college student mentors? Evaluation has answers

Sunderman, H. M., & Hastings, L. J. (2023). Generativity development among college students who mentor: a sequential multimethod quantitative study. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, 12(2), 145-161.

Summarized by Ellen Parry Luff

About the Study

The concept of generativity, or encompassing care for future generations and a desire to leave a legacy, holds a pivotal place in human development theory since Erikson’s pioneering work in 1950. This concept emerged as a crucial phase in the Erikson’s eight stages of development. Generativity involves feelings and actions such as concern, and commitment to the betterment of future generations. Among college students the act of mentoring has been associated with increased generativity. To comprehensively investigate the development of generativity among college students engaged in mentoring roles, a sequential multi method quantitative research design was employed, drawing inspiration from Lewis-Beck et al. (2003), this paper made use of two studies. Study 1 aimed to discern generativity differences among age cohorts of college students who mentor, while Study 2 delved into the longitudinal generativity development in this group. Overall these studies delve into generativity among college students who mentor, unraveling longitudinal patterns surrounding generativity and examining the roles of both generativity and mentoring. Ultimately this study contributes to the development of mentoring programing and helps us understand the complex relationship between generativity and mentoring.

Key Findings:

  • College students who engage in mentoring roles exhibited higher levels of generativity compared to their peers, with mentoring being a precursor to generativity development.
  • Study 1 found no significant difference in generativity between college student age cohorts, indicating years spent mentoring did not significantly impact generativity levels.
  • Study 2, through longitudinal examination via the utilization of MLM, revealed that generative behavior among college student mentors significantly increased over three time points, indicating growth in social responsibility.
  • Gender had a significant effect on generativity. 
  • Results suggest the value of mentoring programs in promoting generativity development, enhancing social responsibility and preparing students for socially responsible leadership roles.

Implications for Mentoring:

In the context of mentoring, this two-phase study sheds light on the transformative power of mentoring relationships among college students. The research underscores the vital role mentoring plays in nurturing generative behavior. In particular when it comes to the relationship between mentoring and generativity study 2 unveiled a significant and positive increase in generative behavior over time. This discovery holds profound implications for mentoring programs aimed at college students. By fostering generativity through mentoring, we not only equip students with valuable leadership skills but also nurture a sense of social responsibility and the drive to invest in future generations. As states grapple with budget constraints, these findings underscore the need for evidence-based impact documentation, making advanced techniques like MLM a roadmap for other mentoring initiatives. Furthermore, recognizing the connection between generative behavior and socially responsible leadership, educators are urged to design long-term mentoring interventions, ushering in a new era of empowered, socially responsible leaders ready to shape stronger communities and organizations.

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