Title

Identifying essential mentor traits and functions within academic, business and military contexts

Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation

Advisor(s)

Alan Goldberg

Keywords

Academic, Business, Mentor, Military

Subject Categories

Community College Leadership | Education

Abstract

This study empirically identified essential mentor traits and functions within the academic, business, and military contexts. Further, this study answered the following questions: (a) What are the essential mentor traits within academic, business, and military contexts as defined by mentor practitioners in formal mentor programs? (b) What essential functions do mentors provide within academic, business, and military contexts as defined by mentor practitioners in formal mentor programs? (c) Are there differences regarding mentor traits and functions among contexts? and (d) How do selected demographic variables affect a mentor's attitude regarding traits and functions?

The findings in this study identified seven essential traits that were common to mentors in all contexts. Those traits were "confidentiality," "dependability," "genuine," "high moral & ethical standards," "honesty," "integrity," and "professionally competent." The essential functions common to all contexts were "accepts protégé," "coaches protégé," "imparts knowledge to protégé," "offers introduction to academic/corporate/military culture," "provides support for protégé," "provides vision for protégé," "serves as a role model for protégé," and "shares time with protégé." The differences among contexts regarding mentor traits and functions were found to be of minimal magnitude. Gender was the only variable that seemed to affect a mentor's attitude regarding traits and functions.

The Delphi technique and self-report surveys were used to complete this study. The first stage involved a Delphi Panel of mentor experts from each of the three contexts. Experts have been used extensively in other research endeavors to determine group consensus. The experts provided a list of mentor characteristics. The characteristics were further categorized into traits and functions and resubmitted to the panel to gain final consensus. The final self-report survey was then administered to mentors in formal mentor programs. The purpose of the self-report survey was to identify essential mentor traits and functions as determined by the Delphi panel.

This information regarding traits and functions is significant because it can be used to improve formal mentor programs by: (a) creating mutual expectations between mentor and protégé, (b) matching mentors with protégés, (c) selecting mentors for participation in programs, (d) developing mentor job descriptions, and (e) establishing mentor behavior norms.

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