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K-State Today

January 30, 2013



Hatfield presents at the National Mentoring Conference, University of New Mexico

By John Hatfield

John Hatfield, assistant director of civic service and retention programs for the Kansas Campus Compact, presented “Five Easy Pieces: Five core mentoring roles and how they contribute to relational mentoring success” and “A Plan to succeed: A mentor action plan as a tool for fostering dialogue and development, equipping mentors for success” at the National Mentoring Conference at the University of New Mexico.

The three-day conference was attended by more than 800 people from the public and private sectors, as well as, academia. Presenters from China and Europe brought perspectives from other countries.

Hatfield’s “Five Easy Pieces” presentation focused on five distinct mentoring roles. Mentoring literature provides a plethora of possible mentoring roles, which can be overwhelming to the prospective mentor.

The presentation and paper narrows this vast array of roles into five: professor, counselor, coach, parent and peer. Helping mentors comprehend when and how to use these five distinct roles provides simplicity, clarity and success in the mentoring relationship. Each role is unique and requires different mentoring abilities, skills and techniques. Each role assumes different degrees of relationship, time, experience, ability and learning. Mattering refers to the beliefs people have, justifiably or not, that they matter to someone else, and that they are the object of someone’s attention, care and appreciation. In reference to Schlossberg, Lynch and Chickering’s (as cited in Moore, 1990) contention that students success is dependent on the degree to which they matter. Each of the five roles involves mattering and plays a part to successful mentoring.

Mentors naturally gravitate toward assuming one role or another based upon personal preference, past experiences, natural gifting, perceptions, beliefs or how they were mentored. Mentors need to understand and appreciate the significance, purpose and dynamic of each role, and to be cognizant of how and when to administer each role. Doing so allows mentoring to have purpose, balance and design.

Hatfield’s “A Plan to Succeed” presentation focused on an action plan as a tool for equipping and developing mentors for success. Training mentors in how to mentor, empowers mentors and has more impact on those they mentor. Developing a strategy and plan for the mentoring process enables mentors to have greater success. This paper looks at the four stages of David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (learning style model), that of reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, concrete experience, and active experimentation and how to use these in a mentoring action plan. Alexander Astin’s Involvement Theory that the amount of student learning and personal development associated with any educational program is directly proportional to the quality and quantity of student involvement in the program is also presented. 

Programs that are successful are cognizant they need a strategy for equipping and empowering their mentors. A mentor is someone with knowledge and skill, able to empower another through instruction, reflective dialogue, affirmation, example, challenge and support in the context of an authentic relationship.

Mentors can logically be more successful if they are trained having an action plan, understand the mentoring roles of professor, parent, coach, counselor and peer and have a strategic approach.

A Mentor Action Plan and a Planning Organizer allow mentors to lead by design and not by default. They equip mentors for success and fellows have a deeper richer experience. The quality of the mentoring experience is elevated and the empowerment from both ends is significant and transferable.

Hatfield is responsible for a compact of public and private four year colleges and universities and community college mentoring program that focuses on pairing an upper-classmen with a freshman for the purpose of retention. Freshmen are mentored for academic and social success and each pair is involved in six civic service projects throughout the year. Civic engagement improves student success on a range of important measures. Research indicates that high-quality curricular and co-curricular civic engagement is positively correlated to student success (Grantmakers for Education, 2010: Meyer, 2003). Astin (1996) highlights the importance of peer group interaction for college student success and notes that service are one way to develop peer-relationships. Astin and Sax (1998) and Vogelgesand, Ikeda, Gilmartin, and Keup (2002) further found that service learning is positively associated with student retention and the likelihood of completing a degree.

Of the seven public and private four-year institutions and one community college in Kansas involved in Hatfield’s Serve2Succeed program with Kansas Campus Compact the overall retention rate for 2011/2012 was 17 percent above institution average.

Hatfield is a mentor with K-State First GPS program and volunteers with Greek affairs, mentoring and providing leadership development.