“How’s your program doing?”: A new questionnaire assesses mentors’ perceptions of program support

by Jean Rhodes

Mentors sometimes struggle to connect with their mentees and programs play a vital role in supporting the match. In a recent study, we found that, when mentors feel a lack of support, they are more likely to terminate the relationships early (Burton, Rapsoa, and & Rhodes, 2017). Yet mentoring programs often struggle to find short, valid questionnaires to measure their program practices and outcomes. Fortunately, mentoring researchers have been hard at work and today we highlight a new scale that will go a long way toward improving program and relationship assessment.

Clinical psychologist, Jenna Marshall and her colleagues’ new scale of program support can play a vital role in programs’ efforts to improve match support.  As they note in the abstract that”Although mentoring can have powerful benefits for youth, it can be a challenging responsibility for mentors. The literature emphasizes training and support as being essential for effective mentoring, but empirical research has not yet provided a psychometrically sound measure to assess this construct.

The present study focuses on the development and initial evaluation of the Mentors’ Perceived Program Support Scale (MPPSS), an 11-item inventory that addresses 4 areas of support: emotional, informational, tangible assistance, and appraisal. The MPPSS was administered to 664 mentors from 19 formal mentoring programs. Data analysis included a factor analysis, item response theory analysis, and an assessment of convergent and discriminant validity. Reliability and validity estimates of the MPPSS indicated that the MPPSS may have several advantages over the Match Characteristics Questionnaire’s Programmatic Support subscale, one of the few available measures of mentor support. Implications for the use and further evaluation of the MPPSS are discussed. “

In the discussion section, they conclude that “Though the literature on mentoring best practices has evolved over time, one factor that has been consistently emphasized is the importance of mentor support. However, mentoring research has lagged in producing instruments to assess program support for mentors; those that do exist are brief and have limited histories of psychometric data. To address this gap, the goals of this study were to (a) develop the MPPSS, (b) begin to assess its reliability and validity, and (c) compare its psychometric properties to those from an existing measure, the MCQ’s Programmatic Support subscale (Harris & Nakkula, 2008). The results indicate that the 11-item MPPSS has compelling indications of reliability and validity and may have several advantages over the MCQ’s Programmatic Support subscale.”

Mentors’ Perceived Program Support Scale (MPPSS)

Mentoring programs vary in the sources of support they offer their mentors. Which of the following are available from your program?

□ Program staff support
□ Fellow mentors/peer supervisor support
□ Resource support (e.g., written materials, online training)
□ Other support (please indicate the source)___________________________________

Thinking about the sources you just chose, Does your program…
(1 = Not at all, 2 = A little, 3 = Mostly, 4 = Very much)

1. Understand the situations you face with your mentee?
2. Teach you how to handle difficult situations that arise in mentoring?
3. Physically go with you during a challenging mentoring situation (e.g., at mentee’s school/home)?
4. Provide information to help you think about your mentoring relationship differently?
5. Help you feel better when you experience difficulty with your mentee?
6. Suggest activities to do with your mentee?
7. Notice when you are working hard at being a good mentor?
8. Help you evaluate your feelings and attitudes about your mentee?
9. Teach you skills that you can use in mentoring?
10. Teach you strategies for appreciating issues related to diversity or difference in your relationship?
11. Provide opportunities to reflect on your mentoring experience?

MENTORS’ PERCEIVED PROGRAM SUPPORT SCALE: DEVELOPMENT AND INITIAL VALIDATIONJenna H. Marshall, Martha C. Davis, and Edith C. Lawrence, James L. PeughMichael D. Toland , JOURNAL OF COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGY, Vol. 44, No. 3, 342–357 (2016)