New Study Explores The Impact Of Planned Rematching On Youth With Poor First Matches

Reference: Mutignani, L. M., Steggerda, J. C., Scafe, M. J., Vengurlekar, I. N., & Cavell, T. A. (2024). The practice of rematching in youth mentoring: a study of planned rematches in school-based mentoring for children identified as aggressive. Children and Youth Services Review, 107476.

Summarized by Ellen Parry Luff

About the Study:

When looking for ways to increase rates of high-quality mentoring matches, the question of whether youth in poor-quality matches (which often end prematurely) should be rematched remains controversial with some research demonstrating weaker and potentially harmful effects for rematched youth. In particular, the effects of planned rematching remain underexplored with extant research (they primarily examine cases where match endings were not planned or expected). To address this, the current study explores the effects of planned rematching by utilizing data from a larger prevention trial which compared the effects of Lunch Buddy mentoring* and a community-based mentoring program on 2nd and 3rd graders identified as aggressive. This study looked specifically at the Lunch Buddy mentoring group, comparing those who had poor first matches with those who did not (comparison group). The researchers hypothesized that youth who had poor first matches would have fewer positive rematches compared to the comparison group (those who had more positive first matches). However, there were no hypotheses about differences in post-mentoring outcomes.

* = Lunch Buddy mentoring took place at the school lunch table alongside the child’s peers and utilized scheduled rematching at the end of each semester.

Key Findings:

  • Children in the poor first-match group reported significantly lower match support after the 2nd match semester than the comparison group. However, this mentee-reported effect didn’t occur after the 3rd match semester.
  • Regarding the mentors’ reports of match support, there were no significant differences between groups at the end of the 2nd or 3rd semester.
  • There were no significant differences between groups seen in both the mentee and mentor ratings of conflict after the 2nd and 3rd semesters.
  • There were also no significant differences between groups in terms of post-mentoring outcomes as measured via externalizing scores, peer nominations of aggression, and teacher-student relationship quality.

Implications for Mentoring:

While caution is advised when trying to interpret the study’s findings due to null effects, the results suggest that children in poor first matches are not necessarily destined to have poor rematches and outcomes in the future. Still, since most results were non-significant, more research is needed to look at the benefits and risks of rematching (both planned and unplanned). The researchers also identified a carryover effect in which children in poor first matches viewed their second match less positively than the comparison group. Interestingly, this carryover effect did not extend to mentor ratings of relationship support, highlighting the need for more studies examining the presence of discrepancies in ratings between mentors and mentees. The authors also argue that there should be a greater focus on models that promote rematching, such as transitional mentoring which trains mentors to work with a specific youth population for a set amount of time before rematching as needed with other youth. Overall, this study shows tentative support for the value of planned rematching, but more work is needed to examine the impacts of planned rematching fully.

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