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Talking to the mentees: exploring mentee dispositions prior to the mentoring relationship

Z.W. Taylor (Educational Leadership and Policy, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA)
Victoria G. Black (PACE Peer Mentoring, Texas State University San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas, USA)

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education

ISSN: 2046-6854

Article publication date: 8 November 2018

Issue publication date: 23 November 2018




The purpose of this paper is to explore how postsecondary mentoring programs address mentee dispositions prior to the mentee entering the reciprocal relationship, particularly which mentee dispositions are valued across mentoring program types, including peer, community-to-student, faculty-to-student and faculty-to-faculty programs.


This study employed quantitative content analysis to examine 280 institutional US postsecondary mentoring websites across four different institution types (public, four-year; private, four-year, non-profit; private, four-year, for-profit; public, two-year) and four different mentoring program types (peer or student-to-student, community-to-student, faculty-to-student and faculty-to-faculty programs). Grounded coding strategies were employed to generate these four mentoring program types, supported by extant research (Crisp et al., 2017).


Of 280 mentoring programs, 18.6 percent articulated mentee dispositions prior to entering the reciprocal relationship. When mentoring programs did address mentees, most programs articulated mentor duties aligned with mentee expectations (47.5 percent of programs) and program outcomes for mentees (65.7 percent of programs) rather than what the mentee can and should bring into a reciprocal relationship.

Research limitations/implications

This study is delimited by its sample size and its focus on institutional website content. Future studies should explore how mentoring programs recruit and retain mentees, as well as how website communications address the predispositions and fit of mentees within different types of mentoring programs.

Practical implications

This study provided evidence that many postsecondary mentoring programs in the USA may not be articulating programmatic expectations of mentees prior to the mentoring relationship. By failing to address mentee predispositions, mentoring programs may not be accurately assessing their mentor’s compatibility with their mentees, potentially leading to unproductive mentoring relationships.


This study affirms extant research (Black and Taylor, 2017) while connecting mentor- and coaching-focused literature to the discussion of a mentee dispositions scale or measurement akin to Crisp’s (2009) College Student Mentoring Scale and Searby’s (2014) mentoring mindset framework. This study also forwards an exploratory model of mentoring program inputs and outputs, envisioning both mentor and mentee characteristics as fundamental inputs for a mentoring program rather than traditional models that view mentors as inputs and mentee achievements as outputs (Crisp, 2009; Searby, 2014).



Taylor, Z.W. and Black, V.G. (2018), "Talking to the mentees: exploring mentee dispositions prior to the mentoring relationship", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 296-311.



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