The Effects of a Mentoring Program on the Socialization Process of First-Year Teachers in a Public School District
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Bogenschild, Erika G.
The journey of this project began in a curriculum and instruction course with the action research project required for the course. This author believes that my interests naturally centered on new teachers because of my long involvement with student teachers, field placement students, and the perpetual parade through my room of young teachers seeking my help about all aspects of teaching and "living" in the school. Because of the assistance I offered these proteges in refining their knowledge of teaching and orienting them to the attitudes and values of the teaching profession, this researcher had some concerns about the mentoring program established in my school. As the program was established, this researcher noted that no training program was provided for the mentors. Consequently, I was interested in finding out what was occurring in the mentoring process since "everyone" was lauding the outcome even though no summative evaluation was made. The action research project became the pilot study for the dissertation project, and the expanded focus for the dissertation was to examine mentoring as a means of socializing new teachers into the profession. Thus, this study examined the encompassing question of whether a mentoring program would help in the socialization process of first-year teachers. The design of the study was an attempt to address some of the criticism and recommendations of educators. For example, Merriam suggested that the research lacked sophistication since most of the published articles "consisted of testimonials as to the benefits of mentoring," and "were based on percentages, rather than statistical significance", and McNally recommended that a study be conducted that examined both first-year teachers involved in a mentoring program and those who were not involved in a mentoring program with a focus on the differences in their socialization. Finally, since Johnston and Ryan postulated that the socialization of new teachers was a fundamentally significant process, the study was designed to gather data that documented the actual interactions between mentors and proteges and to compare that information with interactions of first-year teachers who had no formal mentor. Then, in order to push the boundaries of the body of literature, which predominantly presents the perceived usefulness of mentoring, the study was designed not only to collect data as the interactions occurred but also to determine if a correlation existed between a change in the first-year teacher's socialization attitude scores and the interactions in the mentor/protege relationship, as recorded in the mentoring questionnaire. In order to test for a change in socialization attitude, the Beginning Teacher Attitude Survey was used as a pretest and as a posttest, while the mentoring interaction data were collected with a second instrument, Analyzing Activities Between Mentors and First-Year Teachers. Specifically, this study investigated the mentor/teacher interactions which comprised the actual components of the mentoring program in a large, urban school district. By focusing on these social interactions, this study (1) examined the interactions between two groups of first-year teachers: those with formally assigned mentors and first-year teachers who were not assigned a formal mentor; (2) examined the difference in attitude between the two groups of teachers to determine if the activities and experiences as documented in the interactions between the first-year teachers and their mentors improved the first-year teacher's attitude toward his/her socialization; (3) examined the change in the attitude to see if the change was manifested by the social interactions between mentor and first-year teacher; (4) examined the · perceived effectiveness of the social interactions between the mentors and first-year teachers; and (5) examined the first-year teachers' perceptions of the assistance provided by the district.