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Filling the gaps: how the non-faculty mentor role contributes to the doctoral program support structure

Kat R. McConnell (Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)
Rachel Louise Geesa (Department of Educational Leadership, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA)

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education

ISSN: 2046-6854

Article publication date: 27 January 2021

Issue publication date: 24 May 2021

363

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate mentors' and mentees' perspectives of the mentor role within an education doctoral mentoring program at a mid-sized public institution.

Design/methodology/approach

Data from individual interviews with mentors and mentees were collected as part of a larger case study of a doctoral mentoring program. Mentees were doctor of education (EdD) students in their first and second years of the program. Mentors were identified as individuals who graduated from or are further along in the doctoral program. Five (N = 5) mentees and seven (N = 7) mentors participated in interviews, which were then transcribed and coded to identify emergent themes, along with transcripts of presentations given by the mentors.

Findings

Four themes emerged within the data: differentiating support roles, mentoring as a way to identify gaps in doctoral student needs, mentoring as support for doctoral student success and ways to provide suggestions for mentoring program improvement. Results indicated that mentors and mentees viewed the mentor role as being unique from the roles of faculty advisor and dissertation chair. Mentors and mentees alike responded positively to virtual mentoring.

Research limitations/implications

Participation by mentors and mentees was limited to first- and second-year doctoral students; thus, dissertation-stage students' perceptions of mentoring could not be determined. Implications include the value of mentoring in filling the gaps of support for doctoral students and the capability of mentoring programs to be adapted to unexpected circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originality/value

This study targets scholar-practitioner students in an EdD program, who are often overlooked by mentoring literature, and distinguishes research between faculty mentoring and mentoring performed by other students/recent graduates. Additionally, the pandemic gave the authors an opportunity to explore adapting mentoring to virtual formats.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Guest Editor Dr. Carol A. Mullen and the Editorial Board for the opportunity to publish within this special issue of IJMCE.

Citation

McConnell, K.R. and Geesa, R.L. (2021), "Filling the gaps: how the non-faculty mentor role contributes to the doctoral program support structure", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 188-202. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMCE-01-2021-0004

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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