Looking for evaluation ideas? NMRC has developed a Measurement Toolkit for mentoring programs

Written by Justin Preston

Evaluation: It has its own section in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring (EEPM). Funding organizations often require their recipients conduct rigorous evaluations to measure the impacts of their programming. It is a crtical aspect of many mentoring programs that can help to guide practice and institute a measure of accountability to staff and mentees.

However, rigorous evaluation can be a daunting task. Should a program provide a survey of the mentee’s status before the match has begun and once it has concluded? What kinds of questions should be included? Does the type of program affect the kinds of outcomes a program should be evaluating? What about changing the measures to better suit a program’s practices?

These and many other questions can quickly add up when a program embarks on the process of evaluating their programming. Fortunately, the National Mentoring Resource Center has put together a Measurement Guidance Toolkit for mentoring programs to help provide some clarity in what can otherwise often seem to be an opaque process.

The Toolkit is freely available and, as NMRC describes, “provides recommended instruments for measuring key youth outcomes in mentoring programs as well as several risk and protective factors that may be relevant to program outcomes.” These outcomes include mentoring relationship quality, social-emotional skills, academics, and others.

The authors of the toolkit, accomplished researchers in the field of mentoring, also provide guidance around responsible use of the toolkit and the measures they highlight. This includes avoiding steps such as adapting the measure (e.g. changing the language of the questions), improper administration, and more.

While the list is not exhaustive – and the authors are taking requests for additional outcomes of interest from programs and practitioners – the Toolkit serves as a great foundational resource for program staff seeking to determine the impacts their program is having on their mentees across a range of domains. With the knowledge gained through evaluation programs can better identify their areas of strength and areas of need, helping them to chart a better course for themselves and their mentees moving forward.