New study examines how relationship quality affects academic & behavioral outcomes

Jablon, E. M., & Lyons, M. D. (2020). Dyadic report of relationship quality in school-based mentoring: Effects on academic and behavioral outcomes. Journal of Community Psychology, n/a(n/a), 1-14.

Summarized by Ariel Ervin

Notes of Interest: 

  • The strength and quality of mentoring relationships can have positive effects on student-related outcomes
  • There is a limited amount of empirical research that explores how mentors’ and mentees’ perceptions affect developmental outcomes
  • This study examines how mentoring relationship quality perceptions correlate with mentees’ academic and behavioral outcomes
  • Results suggest that mentor-reported relationship quality positively associates with mentees’ academic outcomes
    • Some correlations were found between mentor and mentee reported relationship quality and behavioral outcomes.
  • It’s essential for researchers and practitioners to analyze various components of mentoring relationships that promote positive mentee outcomes in order to better understand relationship quality

Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)

Mentoring, a common support practice for middle schoolers, can have varying effects on student academic and behavioral outcomes depending on the type of mentoring and quality of relationship formed. Although research has examined mentees’ perception of relationship quality in mentoring relationships, fewer studies have looked at both mentor and mentee reports. The present study aims to explore how the interaction of mentor and mentee perceptions of the relationship quality is associated with student academic and behavioral outcomes. Major findings include the significant association between mentor‐reported relationship quality and academic outcomes for mentees, as well as some associations mentee‐ and mentor‐reported relationship quality and behavioral outcomes. Results illustrate the importance of training in mentoring programs, as well as how mentee‐ versus mentor‐report of the relationship may impact outcomes in distinct ways. This study can improve understanding of mentor–mentee relationships, which may improve student academic and behavioral outcomes.

Implications (Reprinted from the Discussion)

Because results of meta‐analyses of mentoring relationships vary widely, it is prudent for the mentoring field to examine specific components of mentoring relationships; this may allow scholars and professionals in the mentoring field to implement changes in mentoring programs that have consistently positive outcomes for youth. Although mentee‐reported relationship quality has been a popular area of focus, fewer academics have examined the association of the interaction between mentee‐ and mentor‐report of relationship quality and outcomes as we did in this study. 

We predicted that matches wherein mentors and mentees both reported high levels of relationship quality would have more positive effects than when relationship quality was considered alone. Similarly to the work of Rhodes et al. (2017), although the mentee and mentor scales were comprised of different items that are associated with relationship quality in mentoring, we hypothesized that there would be an interaction between mentor‐ and mentee‐reported relationship quality and this interaction would have a synergistic effect on youth outcomes. In spite of this hypothesis, no significant associations were observed between the interactions of mentor–mentee reports of relationship quality on any outcomes. This may be due to the nature of the scale; while the mentee scale focuses exclusively on the feelings of the mentee, the mentor scale focuses on both mentee and mentor perspective. 

However, there were notable differences on how the two reported the quality of the relationship and the associations between student outcomes. Our analyses illustrate how differences in perceptions about the relationship may have different associations with student outcomes; we believe this will be an important area for the field of mentoring research to continue to explore, particularly as the field of positive youth development continues to focus on increasing mentee voice within youth–adult relationships (Mitra, 2014). As a result, our discussion will focus on outcomes that are associated with mentee‐ and mentor‐reported relationship quality.

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