Mentoring for Enhancing Educational Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors

By National Mentoring Resource Center


Michael D. Lyons, University of Virginia, School of Education and Human Development

Samuel D. McQuillin, Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina


This review examines research that addresses the potential influence of mentoring for youth on their educational attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors EABBs). In general, from experimental and meta-analytic studies, the effects of mentoring on educational attitudes and beliefs were small and inconsistent across studies and forms of mentoring (e.g. naturally occurring vs. program sponsored). Yet, there is evidence that mentoring has the potential to influence a range of EABBs, including self-esteem, school connectedness, school engagement, and attitudes toward school. The cumulative literature provides some insight into how programs and institutions that offer mentoring might better support mentoring relationships to expand and improve EABB outcomes. These factors include cultural, environmental, social experiences of youth, the strategic selection of program practices that are aligned with EABBs (e.g., setting goals with youth, teaching youth how to cope with stress), and the use of more carefully designed experiments that focus on measuring and improving EABBs. Finally, the review suggests that attention to implementing these enhancements is limited; but that when programs do adopt and implement these programmatic enhancements, mentoring can have a greater positive effect on EABBs.

In addition to the formal review of research on mentoring and EABBs, Implications for Practice based on this research are also included. These practice recommendations focus on actions that mentors or program staff could take to support development of positive EABBs, including the identification of root causes of negative EABBs, supporting growth mindsets and persistence skills, providing emotional support and encouragement, facilitating referrals to tutoring or other direct academic supports, working collaboratively with parents around academic challenges, and both direct advocacy on behalf of the child within schools and teaching youth to advocate for themselves to address points of disconnection. Links to relevant resources and training are provided when relevant.

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