Mentoring Relationships, Cultural Fitness, and College and Life Satisfaction of Racial/Ethnic Minority Undergraduates

Castellanos, J., Gloria, A., Besson, D., & Harvey, L. (2016). Mentoring Matters: Racial Ethnic Minority Undergraduates’ Cultural Fit, Mentorship, and College and Life Satisfaction. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 46(2), 81-98.

Summarized by Ariel Ervin

 Notes of Interest:

  • Analyzes the extent that “cultural fit” (describes the cultural congruity and the attitudes of the college setting) and the non-cognitive and dimensional developments of mentoring that anticipates life and college satisfaction.
  • 238 racial/ethnic minority undergraduate students from two different universities filled out a survey
  • The researchers observed that there were some notable differences between their groups.
  • They also noticed that there were some disparities in vitality, based on the status of the mentor-mentee relationship as well as the university location.
  • The data from the survey revealed that “cultural congruity” was the most robust indicator of life satisfaction, while attitudes of the university setting were the most robust and positive indicators of college satisfaction.

Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)

This study examined the degree to which cultural fit (cultural congruity in combination with perception of the university environment) and the dimensional noncognitive processes of mentoring predicted college satisfaction and life satisfaction for 238 racial and ethnic minority undergraduates from two university contexts. Group differences as well as differences in strength of relationships emerged by site and mentor status. Perception of the university environment was the strongest positive predictor of college satisfaction, whereas cultural congruity was the strongest predictor of life satisfaction. Limitations, future research directions, and implications of the study’s findings are discussed.

 Implications (Reprinted from the Discussion)

This study’s findings were consistent with and divergent from previous research examining differences and relationships related to perceived mentorship, cultural fit, and college and life satisfaction. Cultural congruity accounted for the largest proportion of variance of both college and life satisfaction, with reports of cultural congruity differing by university setting and mentor status. The study included the element of university context, addressing the importance of dimensionalized student noncognitive processes (Castellanos & Gloria, 2007).

As hypothesized, students who reported having a mentor evidenced higher cultural fit (i.e., cultural congruity in combination with perception of the university environment), more mentoring (i.e., psychosocial support, instrumental, and networking), a general perception of being mentored, and higher college and life satisfaction. Consistent with the mentoring literature, students who have connection to faculty members expressing interest and concern for them (i.e., faculty-student interactions) are associated with increased positive perceptions of cultural fit (Gloria et al., 2005), and college and life satisfaction (Constantine & Watt, 2002). Clearly, the role of mentoring is important for student development, regardless of the university context.

Differences in the strengths of the relationships of the mentoring variables to college satisfaction emerged by site. Although the mentoring variables were not predictive of college or life satisfaction, each of the mentoring variables (i.e., perception, psychosocial support, instrumental, and networking) had significantly stronger strengths of relationships with college satisfaction for Site 1 students versus Site 2 students. For those students in a low REM student context (Site 2), the activities of mentoring were not associated with cultural fit. Furthermore, the process mentoring variables (i.e., psychosocial support, instrumental, and networking) had a stronger relationship to perception of the university environment for students at Site 1 than Site 2. Given that the results did not support the anticipated findings, it is evident that the activities and processes of mentoring merit exploration relative to students’ ability and willingness to engage their university environment. For example, additional university factors (commuter vs. non-commuter, research vs. comprehensive, rural vs. urban) could meditate students’ interactions and interpretations of their educational experiences.


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