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Teacher mentoring and the reflective practitioner approach

Michelle Attard Tonna (Department of Leadership for Learning and Innovation, University of Malta, Msida, Malta)
Eva Bjerkholt (Faculty of Humanities, Sports, and Educational Science, University College of Southeast Norway, Notodden, Norway)
Eimear Holland (School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education

ISSN: 2046-6854

Article publication date: 4 September 2017




The purpose of this paper is to focus on reflective mentoring practices. Teacher mentors are widely known to be an important catalyst for reflection. Through dialogue and professional conversations, teacher mentors can help their mentees to improve their teaching performance by facilitating their discussion of the praxis from different perspectives.


This qualitative mixed methods study is based on three separate studies from the Republic of Ireland, Malta and Norway involving: mentors of undergraduate student-teachers (U-M, n: 37); mentors of newly qualified teachers (NQT-M, n: 4); student-teachers (ST, n: 16); NQT, n: 8; and university tutors (UT, n: 8). In each study, mentors were provided with varying degrees of education on facilitating critical reflection for mentees. This study sought to draw out what reflective practices were being employed in mentoring across European contexts and what perceived impact they had. A cross-case analysis of data across the three countries was conducted using coding and constant comparison. Triangulation of data was employed across not only cases, but also across multiple methods data sets and across participant types.


All three studies reveal that mentoring approaches aiming to promote critical reflection have to be based on a developmental approach towards mentoring. They also have to challenge traditional hierarchical relationships and involve a commitment to collaborative, inquiry-oriented approaches towards mentoring.

Research limitations/implications

By bringing different studies of reflection in mentoring practices together, it is possible to gain new knowledge on mentoring in teacher education. However, being a cross-country, cross-context and cross-cultural approach in itself contains certain restrictions.


The authors of this paper propose that professional forms of inquiry depend on the type of relationship and collaboration forged between the teacher mentor and mentee. A cross-case analysis approach provided evidence of reflective practice, which is common across three European countries and offers a snapshot of trends.



Tonna, M.A., Bjerkholt, E. and Holland, E. (2017), "Teacher mentoring and the reflective practitioner approach", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 210-227.



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