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Mentor support systems in a doctoral mentoring program

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

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

ISSN: 2398-4686

Article publication date: 18 November 2020

Issue publication date: 1 December 2020




Education doctoral (EdD) students (mentees) typically hold full-time leadership positions in education-related fields while completing their degree. The types of support these scholar-practitioners need is unique because of their focus on balancing full-time work, academic, and personal needs. This study aims to explore mentor support systems for mentees in their first and second year of the EdD program through a group mentoring program, which is designed to provide resources and access to mentors to promote successful degree completion in five years or less.


Mentors participated in monthly presentations and discussions with mentees throughout the 2018–2019 academic year, which were video recorded. At the end of the academic year, mentors partook in an interview or focus group meeting.


Themes emerged related to mentors’ focus on the dissertation process; emphasis on outreach for support; discussions and work/life balance; selection of presentation topics; perceptions of networking opportunities with mentees; desire to build stronger connections with mentees; and concerns/opinions about the mentoring format.

Research limitations/implications

The design of a mentoring program for EdD mentees varies throughout the doctorate degree pathway. Mentors support mentees in their doctoral journey through presentations and discussions about relevant topics during their first two years in the doctoral program. Additional studies are needed regarding EdD mentoring programs for students in the third year to the completion of the degree.


Few studies exist related to mentoring programs for scholar-practitioners in EdD programs. Results from this research provide EdD faculty and advisors insights to group mentoring and discussion topics for first and second year EdD students, based on the mentors’ perspectives.



Geesa, R.L., McConnell, K.R., Elam, N.P. and Clark, E. (2020), "Mentor support systems in a doctoral mentoring program", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 311-327.



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