Date of Graduation
In the wave of educational reform that swept the United States during the decade of the eighties, many became concerned about the apparent large number of beginning teachers who were leaving the profession in the first three years. Those who worked closely with teacher education programs, began to look at how teachers were trained. Out of their research and dialogue came the need to foster better ways to help new teachers make the transition from student to classroom teacher. Teacher induction programs which included formal mentoring programs were initiated very quickly across many states, since it was believed that a mentor would become the connection between the teacher-in-training and the teacher-in-charge. While swift measures were taken to retain new teachers, those teachers who had remained in the profession over an extended period of time were virtually forgotten. Had these teachers had mentors, and if so, could their success in the field be attributed to the mentors? Or was there a possibility that many had stayed in the profession without having had a mentor? A comprehensive study of classroom teachers whose careers have witnessed longevity, and the contributing factors to their success could reveal the degree to which mentoring programs are necessary or cost effective. To facilitate a study of program effectiveness in West Virginia, investigative questions were asked of long-term professionals to determine whether a mentor can be confirmed and credited with their stay. To conduct this study, a questionnaire was designed to acquire information from long-term professionals to determine whether they could identify a mentor and attribute their success to that relationship. Follow-up interviews were conducted to gain insights pertaining to the mentoring experiences. The results of the study clearly indicate that while mentors made a positive impact on the careers of some West Virginia teachers, over one-third of the teachers who had mentors believed they would have remained in teaching, even without the help their mentors gave. Often, while comments about the mentoring relationship were positive and affirmative, many still did not attribute their success to the mentor, but rather to their own determination to become a teacher, which many believed was the important factor in their retention. Results also showed that while mentors helped to acclimate novices to the profession and the teaching environment, they often did not assist beginning teachers with classroom management and teaching strategies, a necessary ingredient for educational reform. Recommendations included the extension of this study beyond the state of West Virginia; the continuation of research to determine formal mentoring program effectiveness; cross-gender mentoring as it relates to the matching of the novice and mentor, a crucial component of any mentoring relationship; and "cybermentors," a concept relatively new in mentoring through the use of technology.
Dunlap, Linda K., "A study of the impact of mentoring on West Virginia public school teachers." (1998). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8790.