What mentoring is, and what is is not: New classification system defines nine different mentoring approaches

Nine mentoring alternatives/types—extracted from the empirically based educational mentoring literature—are listed with key associated dimensions in Table 1. Together, they convey aspects of what makes mentoring progressive without identifying every conceivable mentoring type that may have traction in contemporary research.

Discussion in this review of mentoring literature centers on two topics: alternative mentoring types and what mentoring is not. The nine types follow with illustrative examples.

Formal mentoring. Formal mentoring—planned, structured, and intentional—targets gaps and resolves problems in programs and organizations. Sustainability is a concern of formal mentoring as when a change in leadership occurs, the program can lose steam or vanish. Viable programs that are strong, adaptive, and ongoing potentially attest to the transformative power of mentoring.

Propelling equity, STEM mentoring programs are being reconceptualized to include females and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in academics, jobs, and careers, 21 including Indigenous students. STEM mentoring combines the “developmental experience” and “support” of mentoring toward a goal aligned with the challenges of STEM. Contexts that accommodate diversity of gender, race, and other demographics expand the majority involvement of Caucasian males. Formal mentoring in STEM aims to transform mentees (e.g., students) into self-directed, responsible learners who can advocate for themselves. In structured STEM mentoring programs and courses at The University of Texas at Austin and Georgina Tech, undergraduates who were guided in research by faculty and students fullled the role of peer mentor to incoming cohorts, with guidance from a mentor. Along these lines, fundamental requirements for deeper learning were being met.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a nonpartisan, private U.S. charitable foundation, recently introduced deeper learning in the context of STEM and formal mentoring. Martinez, who works for the foundation, has articulated deeper
learning as an alternative to test-laden education and as a pathway for teaching 21st century skills (e.g., collaboration and self-regulation). Her coauthored study of eight innovative public schools across the United States reveals that schools can benefit from teachers providing students with creative opportunities to develop such skills.

Described as competency-based, deeper learning favors “learning how to learn” (p. 3). Deeper learning and mentoring share soft skills that naturally and organically manifest in relationships (e.g., collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking,
role modeling, and independent thinking). While all of these capacities are expected of graduates, being an independent, self-directed thinker is the most important component of deeper learning and, arguably, mentoring. Kram’s mentoring model
moves from dependence to independence, and the relationship becomes redefined once the need for support from mentoring functions decreases or ceases. Newer mentoring research has tied mentoring processes to self-regulated learning as an
intentional design of relationships, and their activities and outcomes. Deeper learning depends on the capacities of mentees to regulate their own cognitions, affects, and behaviors. Because mentoring is supposed to help mentees function independently, self-regulation is common to mentoring and deep learning. Thus, a target in deep learning contexts is students’ adoption of academic mindsets and lifelong learning so they can think critically and independently, and transfer their learning in new
situations to “change thinking or influence behaviors” (p. 10). While the agency for deeper learning comes from within, teachers are crucial stakeholders within the Hewlett Foundation-sponsored paradigm in their capacity to support deeper learning and change in test-burdened environments.

A second deeper learning example in a STEM context is an afterschool program in California, USA, wherein students were assigned to mentor 36 underserved middle schoolers facing barriers to Defining mentoring Mullen & Klimaitis
success (e.g., poverty and language). The mentors’ journals were analyzed, showing that “mentoring influence” as a role model proved more influential than the content being learned and that “establishing strong personal connections [was] the most
important part of being a STEM role model for students” (p. 29). Deeper learning dimensions were evident: Student mentors were guided to assume responsibility for relationship building and negotiating boundaries, and for sharing inspiring STEM
experiences. Moreover, they became aware of the critical importance of team culture in creating their primary relationships. Peer mentoring was successfully enacted within a formal mentoring model. On the basis of such examples, it appears that momentum is behind making deeper learning the “new normal.”

Informal mentoring. By contrast, informal mentoring ignites when mentors and their mentees meet naturally. Chemistry joins advisees with faculty mentors, new teachers with their veteran counterparts, junior colleagues with advanced peers, and
other pairings. Left to chance, though, mentoring may stop. When it comes to retention, satisfaction, and morale, informal mentoring can outstrip formal mentoring’s benefits.

Reverse mentoring, where younger counterparts mentor professionals, is informal, although it can be formalized. Popular within corporations, it is also present in academia. For example, some professors learn from students who know how to integrate technology into teaching and build online mentoring relationships.
In any context, young mentors can foster digital awareness, a diversity consciousness, or professional development (PD).

Diverse mentoring. Cross-gender and cross-race mentoring are formations that join mentor and mentee who differ demographically. The social justice idea expressed is that underrepresented groups, such as female faculty and students
from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, have the right to be mentored within institutions as opposed to being overlooked or neglected. Fairness dictates that male and female mentors are not restricted to mentoring their own gender, just as mentors of color are not limited.

While historically underrepresented individuals often prefer mentors of the same gender or race as themselves, they can benefit from diverse mentoring dyads and groups. In fact, female mentees have reported satisfaction from mixed-gender groups led by male mentors. Quality of mentoring interaction fosters mentee growth and success, including in the diverse situation. Besides personal identifiers (e.g., gender), diverse mentoring can denote context, for example, socioeconomic and religious diversity. Research methods tend to favor qualitative self-study and narrative approaches, guided by frameworks (e.g., positionality theory). Exploration is typically of perceptions and lived experiences, such as stereotypes of race, ethnicity, and gender, and institutional and other barriers to success. Analysis has been directed at “intersecting identities,” “power relations,” and “situational contexts, and strategies for overcoming challenges in institutions, relationships, and cultures.

Electronic mentoring. Electronic mentoring (or e-mentoring) is a significant culture change. Technology—especially the Internet—has rapidly changed how people interact in many domains, and mentoring is no exception. E-mentoring
has increased across universities; it mediates learning and communication remotely through social media, cloud-based/online platforms, synchronous chats, and email. Early indications are that e-mentoring can ease undergraduate and graduate students’ academic transitions while contributing to persistence, development, and overall success.

On the basis of a 2018 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center on social media use among U.S. adults, YouTube moved ahead of Facebook in popularity. All other social media (e.g., Instagram) followed these leading platforms. Group mentor-
ing within electronic spaces is emergent and needs more study, so this learning process can be well understood. However, it can be a vital support to marginalized populations in attaining their goals by transcending barriers, such as hostile working environments.

Success within e-mentoring contexts relies on mentees’resourcesaswellascommitment,readiness, and training to learn remotely and solve technology problems. An existential sort of limitation to e-mentoring is the loss of personal connection from face-to-face (F2F) mentoring. A key to instilling a human side is using high tech–high touch that adapts telecommunications to mentoring interests and needs. In online synchronous (video-based) platforms, participants can interact and share ideas, facilitate mutual learning and development, and experience support and encouragement.

In high-tech spaces, high touch acknowledges that mentors must be aware of the need for human contact and condential, safe spaces. An aspiration of e-mentoring is to utilize the best of F2F mentoring: Participants productively interact, overcom-
ingthelackof“physicalco-presence”while assuring privacy for “conversations about sensitive issues” (p. 469). Projection of personalities in online mentoring contexts has been raised as an issue that also deserves consideration. Higher education faculty, education leaders, and veteran teachers have a reach that spans countries with 24/7 availability, which suggests that the e-mentoring paradigm will likely assume a more dominant role in future research on mentoring.

Comentoring/collaborative mentoring. Comentoring/collaborative mentoring unites individuals in a mutually beneficial relationship. Mentor and mentee might evolve into comentors or they might start out as peers.Eitherway,it is a dynamic
partnership built upon reciprocity, despite differences in knowledge and expertise, and status and rank. Comentors share goals and values. Teachers may bond over guiding at-risk youth to develop resiliency, and envision a positive future for them-
selves in the face of adversity. Developing alliances could attract support in needed areas. Vigorous practices of advocacy and collaboration are proactive mentoring strategies. These have been known to not only advance opportunities and success for
females and persons of color in places of study or work, but also transcend barriers (e.g., stereotypes) that influence mentoring relationships and outcomes.

Intimacy and attraction in mentoring are ripe for ethical debate in the field.However, rigid guidelines are not the answer because mentees are known to benefit from openings to discuss life’s “shadows.” This reality calls upon mentors to pay
close attention to personality, needs, and nuance in mentoring encounters. Principles for ethical conduct extend beyond familiar challenges of confidentiality and competence for mentors to provide diverse mentees “equal access” (p. 112). Mentors
who effectively adopt mentoring alternatives work to ensure that their relationships are inclusive, fair, and just.

Group mentoring. An innovation in the classic dyadic (one-to-one) mentorship, group mentoring is, nonetheless, an age-old practice. Benjamin Franklin’s Leather Apron Club benetting Philadelphia tradespersons is one such example. Despite
the longevity of this mentoring practice, research mostly describes dyadic relationships. While group mentoring has a history in and beyond the academy, its study is “fairly recent,” even though cohorts have long been a fixture in academic degree programs like educational leadership. Besides encompassing an array of disciplines and workplaces, group mentoring occurs in public schools and university-based preparation programs, such as those directed at teachers who are on an administrative track. Study of an aspiring superintendents’ group, for example, revealed that members saw the need for females and minorities to be included in networks and have access to the superintendency. In a different groups (i.e., a professional learning community), teacher researchers collaboratively reflected and problem-solved to benefit student learning.

Having access to mentoring that facilitates “career progress” has been identified as an obstacle to success. In various group mentoring programs delivered electronically as well as F2F within North American contexts, participating faculty from the
social and behavioral sciences who were being mentored provided feedback. Similar positive outcomes were reported with respect to increases in these mentees’ knowledge, skills, retention, and career satisfaction. In group mentoring, three or
more people challenge and support one another’s growth, and they may mentor across differences. Mentees can include those not reached in traditional preparation programs or lacking access to quality mentoring relationships and support. Mentoring groups are informal networks or formal networks that value learning, not just results. Goals can be to offset dissatisfaction with traditional mentoring while supporting multiple perspectives and team-based strategies. In inclusive groups, “relational equality” is valued and exercised. Advantages of group mentoring are “flexibility, inclusiveness, shared knowledge, interdependence, broader vision of the organization Defining mentoring Mullen & Klimaitis widened external networks—a safe place—team spirit and skills, personal growth, and friendships” (pp. 94–97). These can heighten mentees’ motivation. Successful groups support peer modeling and learning, performance, and goal attainment while attending to substance and content. Such groups build the capacity for exchanging ideas and information, as well as resolving conflict, which can add career and psychosocial value.

The Peer Mentoring Group (PMG), a subset of group mentoring, varies considerably. Some theorists describe the model’s enactment as occurring among peers who are similar developmentally, whereas others propose a more open definition of
“peer,” which allows for faculty-led peer mentoring approaches. However, certain conditions matter: power sharing and reciprocity, collaborating horizontally and vertically, systemically inquiring into the group’s effectiveness from participants’ perspectives, and making adjustments on the basis of feedback. When led by faculty mentors, peer groups can overcome obstacles to PMG success that developmentally similar peers encounter supporting each other’s progress.

Equity, justice, and opportunity can be vitally important in peer mentoring groups, whereas traditional mentoring is based on exchange norms, not a justice ethic. Purposefully collaborating with persons historically barred from participating on the
basis of identifications (e.g., gender and race) is a draw. Principles of social justice for peer mentoring groups include “equity and inclusive participation,” “rights” of underserved populations, and freedom to determine their own fate (p. 42). Power
and authority are distributed, leadership shared,and hierarchy flattened. All members—regardless of status and role in a domain—are heard.

To illustrate, a longitudinal PMG was studied relativet of actors that enhanced or limit edits effectiveness. In this informal cohort known as the Writers in Training, diverse mentees (students) who were pursuing doctorates in education met regularly with their faculty mentor (the lead author) in her home on weekends. The group created a covenant of mutual understandings and was guided in writing and research compatible with the social sciences. The goal was to compensate for learning not undertaken in coursework that was necessary for writing a defensible dissertation with an empirical basis. Mentoring behaviors were modeled and included explanations, demonstrations, and coaching. Through an assessment of the learning, surveyed and interviewed mentees reported having acquired valuable academic skills; besides becoming motivated to write, they also
gained confidence in an area of disciplinary knowledge unique to their topics. Other outcomes cited were stronger identities as scholar-practitioners, a sense of belonging to an academic community, and appreciation of peer contribution and rotational
leadership. Students’ perceptions of progress were validated with markers (e.g., joint publications in journals).

Peer mentoring. Peer mentoring also involves developmental learning that can be informal or formal; it attracts those who are new to a particular experience or event and those who have lived through it (e.g., dissertation process). An aim of peer mentoring programs is to support students’ persistence and success, and their “sense of belonging.” The relationship context
is an activity-based learning environment (e.g., laboratory, workplace, and e-platform) that typically involves first-year undergraduates during their transition to higher education, and rigorous programs like STEM. The relationship
fosters engagement, collaboration, communication, support, and risk taking without the hierarchical element. This mutual relationship is a dyad, peer mentoring group, or something else. Gains are career enhancing (information sharing, career
strategizing, etc.) and psychosocial (confirmation, emotional support, etc.). The mentored peer becomes more effective, productive, and empowered through such means as meeting targets and accomplishing work, and navigating systems and demystifying the culture. Self-efficacy is built as peer mentors who serve as “role models” provide academic and emotional support to peers. Importantly, such outcomes as success, socialization, and retention that are achieved by peer mentoring programs can be the same as other mentoring programs. Peer mentors who assume equal responsibility for supporting one another blur the lines between conventional mentors and mentees, at times switching roles

In postsecondary settings, peer mentoring overlaps with coaching and induction. It can transpire formally when peers are matched by a third party (e.g., advisor) using experience, competence, or other criteria. A motivation might be the success and retention of programmatically stalled students, underserved populations, and others considered vulnerable and thus at-risk of failure. Learning more about what transpires during peer mentoring could enhance its operation, including how participants perceive the credibility and trustworthiness of the experience. Some research traditions and methods, such as cognitive apprenticeships and peer mentorships, have uncovered group-based peer mentoring under the direction of faculty mentors.
Peer mentoring groups may be more common than is known given that research has primarily considered benefits to individual mentees and dyads.

Multilevel mentoring. At multiple levels of a system, mentoring can be intentionally programmatic and aligned with institutional missions and policies. The intervention is designed to achieve specific goals, such as the retention, promotion, and satisfaction of specic groups (e.g., junior faculty and novice employees). Change-oriented practices may go beyond instrumental outcomes to manifest a powerful vision of creating a culture of synergy.

The levels engaged in the mentoring process are not limited to classrooms or certain groups. Instead, entire particular social cultural systems (e.g., a school district or university) or units (e.g., a school or college), vertically and horizontally, are
deliberately targeted for change. Aspirations typically include reshaping systems and transforming resistance so that all target groups (e.g., students) can succeed. Design scripts adapted from systems thinking, change management, and coaching
paradigms (e.g., David Clutterbuck and Dale Lick) guide this mentoring theory. The mentoring ideally facilitates interdependence, commitment, and empowerment, as well as participative leadership and involvement.

Leaders and their staff decide what changes are necessary; they spearhead and monitor them, utilizing collaboration to activate desirable change. Systems thinking, change management, instrumental methods, and mentoring techniques are all embedded functions, as are influences of bottom-up and top-down decisionmaking. With systems being the target of change, the reforms can be sponsored or initiated by outsiders (e.g., sponsoring corporations). Stakeholder buy-in and planned transitions accentuate ownership of the change process. Tangible outcomes are measured at different levels, with feedback gathered and adjustments made. Multiple-level mentoring is in an emergent state; it has resulted from whole-faculty focus teams,
study groups, and leadership interventions in public schools and universities. Site based, this model has been implemented in many schools across North America and the United Kingdom whereby teachers study strategies for affecting student achievement.

Cultural mentoring. Cross-cultural relationships within diverse environments are nurtured by cultural mentoring. Transnational contexts depend on technology and social media. With myriad possibilities for profound teaching and learning across cultures, cultural mentoring promotes democratic values: tolerance, acceptance, equality, justice, and freedom. A cultural mentoring ideal involves developing students into humanitarian-minded STEM citizens to benefit their future careers as innovators, technologists, and futurists. A complementary ideal involves combating the narrow-minded regionalism and xenophobia that hinder learning between and among cultures and that perpetuate stereotypes.

Cultural mentoring attracts persons exposed to discrimination and excluded from networks. Mentoring that is culturally responsive develops social consciousness and interpersonal trust, exposes hidden norms and practices, capitalizes on
growth opportunities, and resolves problems. Proactive, change-oriented mentorship is but one “part of a larger agenda for supporting scholars of color” and creating equitable cultures (p. 414). “Mentoring across difference” in programs—crucial to program quality in educational leadership—depends on faculty effectiveness with cross-cultural mentoring and mentor capacities (e.g., being approachable and caring, and adapting mentoring to specific needs).

Two international examples follow of cultural mentoring that situationally define it. The first features empirical study of a China–America STEM apprenticeship, an informal mentoring model. The second is the Global STEM Alliance (GSA),
a formal mentoring model, informed by STEM Defining mentoring Mullen & Klimaitis research and employers’ needs for STEM-minded graduates.

China–America STEM apprenticeship program. This cross-cultural mentoring program is a multilingual German faculty mentor’s creation that combines science and engineering in masters’ and doctoral programs. To address the gender gap in STEM careers, females were recruited to ensure a mixed-gender apprenticeship. At the university-based laboratories in Shandong, China and Virginia, USA, the mentor guided design projects in bioinspired science that utilized emerging technologies. In this global learning environment, some of the apprentices traveled between their mentor’s lab-
oratories, modeling aspects of project development. Mentoring goals of this STEM program were to (1) enable interdependence as a cross-cultural STEM team; (2) foster independent thinking as developing scientists who can build teams and collaborative effectively, and (3) promote diversity in the representation of a future generation of scientists. Doctoral students with some project-based laboratory experience served as peer mentors. Thoughtfully matched across nationalities and on teams, the peers absorbed a rigorous education that demanded creativity in project development and problem solving. Junior apprentices, more
advanced apprentices, and senior apprentices were guided to become self-regulated but interdependent as learners and scientists. Moreover, all apprentices were expected to go beyond acquiring knowledge and skills to develop cultural and creative competency for success in the global research community. A career function the mentor supported was identifying projects that were transdisciplinary and attracted sponsors. A psychosocial function supported the acceptance of different cultures and
resolving conflict.

Global Stem Alliance mentorship program. A subsidiary of the New York Academy of Sciences, the GSA is a prominent worldwide STEM initiative. A cultural mentoring ideal directs its mission—to prepare students as humanitarians so
their aspirational work in STEM areas will influence their careers as innovators, technologists, and futurists. A partnership of 250 organizations, the GSA has three goals: (1) to increase student numbers and diversity in the STEM pipeline; (2) to improve student access to STEM mentors and education; and (3) to prepare the next generation of STEM innovator–humanitarians. Mentorship, real-world challenges, and PD/skills training advance the scientific research and innovative problem solving.

The GSA has various programs that overlap and are distinct. E-mentoring connects the mentors and mentees transnationally; for example, young students’ interest in STEM is cultivated by mentor scientists and engineers. They can also gain access to peers working collaboratively on problems that industries sponsor via Launchpad and other platforms. Beyond e-mentoring, the programs are built in such a way as to reach underrepresented groups and contribute to the STEM pipeline, with
the attention on STEM literacy and 21st-century skills (e.g., critical thinking, communication, and creativity). The career-enhancing function of mentoring combined with coaching prepares students for higher education and STEM careers. A 3-year,
$2 million mentorship program 1,000 Girls, 1,000 Futures targets female participation in STEM fields and matches adolescents, worldwide, with mentors. The Next Scholars Program connects female students interested in STEM careers with mentors. Other mentoring programs are the Junior Academy in which STEM experts coach students on industry projects and United Technologies STEM U that cultivates the engagement of teachers, students, and STEM professionals.

What mentoring is not

While researchers talk about what mentoring is, and what good mentoring looks like, we can fail to explain what mentoring is not. Arguably, mentoring is not coaching, induction, or training, a passive undertaking, therapy, a one-way street, a cure-all, a bandage that metaphorically binds a wound, or a one-time intervention to fix a problem. Next, briefly described are coaching and induction’s intersections with, and distinctions from, mentoring.

Coaching. Because of overlaps and synergies, mentoring gets confused with coaching. Particularly in the coaching literature, mentoring is interchanged with coaching. Peer coaching like peer learning “accelerat[es] career learning” through “a relational process” (p. 487). A coaching study targeted the career learning of 209 university students in a business course who completed surveys following peer coaching activities (e.g., providing feedback on internships and job searches). Benefits they cited included support for goal setting.

Coaching, like mentoring, is a support for learning that is intended to be nonjudgmental and nonevaluative. Unlike mentoring, coaching provides job-embedded support to teachers and is PD oriented, albeit not exclusively. Coaching is popular
in various societal contexts from business to sports, including in online academic and professional spaces. A coaching continuum makes distinctions evident: conventional coaching holds classroom teachers accountable to certain instructional practices and using summative data, whereas student-centered coaching is designed around enhancing performance on standards using formative assessment.

While some researchers equate coaching with mentoring in and beyond classrooms, others subsume coaching for the supportive role it plays in mentorships (e.g., formal mentoring) and tasks. Amenable to quick results, skills development, and instrumental learning, peer coaching is widespread in school systems and draws consultants. Observations of performance combine with practical work and guided intervention (e.g., lesson development). Mentors in higher education also utilize coaching at times to teach skills in specific areas (e.g., how to write strong conference proposals). Because
coaching spearheads short-term goals and one-way exchanges with coachees, it has a secondary function in mentoring for which the fundamental nature of the relationship is different, with its multiple support roles and longer duration.

On the contemporary epistemological front, coaching has been undergoing reformulation. Framed more deeply as a reform strategy, coaching socializes newcomers into the profession. Coaching experts help individuals or groups
become more fully functioning and effective. Developmental coaching can rely on stories to diagnose teachers’ issues to make meaning of education and life. Team coaching, as named by Clutterbuck, draws upon democratic principles (e.g., open dialogue, collective learning, and questioning assumptions) with interactive groups. Other experimental types of coaching include behavioral, psychodynamic, solution focused, and student centered.

Induction. Induction, like traditional coaching, involves one-way learning around content mastery and outcomes expected of the coachee’s development. An intervention, induction joins coaching in its distinction from mentoring while
sharing components. In some research, mentoring and coaching are elements of induction theories and components of programs. Induction training is common for socializing new members in an organization, including educational systems, and it can be formal or informal.

Formal induction programs only last from 1 to 2 weeks, but the training can be longer. These programs are designed around organizational and individual outcomes, typically systems navigation, effective job performance, social integration, and
retention. Site-based induction programs target new employees’ socialization. The induction of novice teachers in comprehensive PD for 2–5 years has been described as a mentoring process.

Reflections and implications

Crow’s theorizing around the roles and functions of mentorship hints at a concern. Mentoring definitions seem to lack clear boundaries around functions and support roles. Further, mentoring theory underscores the capacity-building nature of
mentorship as a multidimensional support system. The nine mentoring types are continuing to grow. In real-world situations, dyads and groups could lack a clear purpose and coherence. Might at least some of these relationships feel bewildering to those
involved? For mentors who encounter multiplying role expectations held by mentees or organizations in recessionary times of downsizing and consolidation, might these feel demanding and unreasonable? If identified, perhaps threats to the integrity
and effectiveness of mentoring practice can be managed.

Also worth emphasizing, mentoring is more theory steeped and developmentally oriented than coaching and induction. Whether traditional or progressive in nature, the mentoring relationship is long term and regulated, with feedback expected. Additionally, mentoring promotes the growth of a whole person through guidance, intensity, reflection, and regulated learning. Alternative mentoring generally targets the transformation of norms, cultures, institutions, and programs. The growth patterns that arise are not limited to one-way development—mentees and mentors alike are learner, comentor, and change agent. growth patterns that arise are not limited to one-way development—mentees and mentors alike are learner, comentor, and change agent.

Yet, interestingly, alternative mentoring theories do not always depart from established tenets and practices. Some are even predicated upon tradition like the apprenticeship model, with its historic roots in the Middle Ages when apprenticeship training
through the trades benetted males. It seems reasonable to avoid perpetuating binaries—traditional mentoring is inherently bad and alternative mentoring is good—when speculative and unsubstantiated claims can be made. In reality, alternative theorists and practitioners are hybrid borrowers of different frameworks that conflict from a macroperspective.

Take the concept of “positive mentoring,” for example. Not aligned with traditional or alternative mentoring, positive mentoring refers to the “quality of the relationship” for mentees and whether they nd it affirming (p. 31). Other mentoring
theorists also identify the quality of interaction in mentor–mentee relationships as what primarily matters for mentoring effectiveness. In positive mentoring situations, assumptions are addressed and negativity is monitored using metacognitive
strategies, such as dialogic probes for understanding dicult issues and tools for assessing mentoring effectiveness (e.g., mentee support).

Nonetheless, pioneering alternative mentoring theory (i.e., comentoring/collaborative mentoring) emerged from interrogations of systemic patriarchy and classical mentoring. Pursuing relational possibilities that disrupt the status quo and penetrate
barriers necessitated a disrobing of hierarchical systems and homogeneous cultures. In institutionally embedded mentoring practice, dynamics of power, authority, exclusion, and blind followship can challenge any kind of mentoring, regardless of ideology. In reality, with career advancement being a protected “investment,” mentors “represent dominant cultural values” (p. 103).

Keeping political agendas in the fore, feminist and antiracist mentoring theorists want systems to eliminate constrictive access, monitor negative biases, and change organizational values. Advocacy language in this article comes from the sources reviewed and alternative mentoring trend in this regard. An implication is that mentoring should be socially


Mentoring relationships have stood the test of time. These will likely continue proliferating and expanding, with the pivotal functions (career and psychosocial) at their base. A gap in the mentoring literature has been addressed. Mentoring was defined and concepts differentiated. Catalysts—tenets, goals, activities, and assessments—have been identified that combine to operationalize mentoring in particular ways. Also, a classification of contemporary mentoring types was exemplified with STEM and other examples.

Hopefully, this analysis of something as seemingly basic as mentoring definitions has conveyed something about the complexity of human dynamics at work in life systems. The mentoring definitions and alternatives provided would benefit
from further explication, theory building, empirical investigation, and testing in practice. Another challenge to the mentoring field is for meanings of mentoring and relational intensity to be examined through empirical study that exceeds single or few
cases and is longitudinal in scope and design. The perseverance of salient mentoring attributes, functions, and types in research can compromise methodological rigor and meaning making.

What lies ahead is further exploration of the issues raised in mentoring frameworks, lived experiences, and actual contexts. A purposeful invocation might be what does mentoring mean in the intense relationship being experienced or studied?
Also needed is more experimentation with mentoring alternatives, with insight from practice updating frameworks. Strategic interventions in mentoring promote equity, inclusion, and social justice on behalf of progress, with modernizations coming
from STEM mentoring and elsewhere. All such efforts help make our globally connected world more just.