The experiences of student female mentees and staff and faculty mentors in a fledgling community college mentor program: a qualitative case study

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This is an intrinsic qualitative case study dissertation that examined the experiences of mentees and mentors in a new mentoring program for female students at a two-year public commuter college in the Southeast. The methodologies of interviews, observations, and document analysis are used to chronicle what mentees and mentors experienced as participants in this mentoring program. Mattering and marginality theory is the theoretical framework used to understand and relate the experiences of students and mentors in this new mentoring program. The additional theories of self-efficacy, career decision-making, and motivation were used to explain student challenges and outcomes from the mentoring experience. The philosophical worldview of realistic-constructivism guided the design and implementation of the study. With retention of major concern to all institutions, but especially public, two-year colleges, coupled with the recent shift to performance funding, finding low-cost interventions to help students persist is crucial to both student success and the health of higher education institutions. This dissertation sought to reveal and understand the experiences of female mentees and mentors in this new mentoring program, as well as to expand the literature on mentoring programs and mattering and marginality theory. Results revealed the need these students had for information, guidance, connection, and encouragement. Interviews with the participants highlighted the great importance of students feeling like they matter to someone at the institution and the power of encouragement on persistence. They also showed the damage that can be done when mentors are not sincere in taking on the mentoring role. Of interest was how much mentoring meant to the mentees and how mattering theory applied to the experiences of the mentors, as well as the mentees. Motivational, self-efficacy, and career decision-making theories were also applicable in reviewing what the mentees needed, received, and how they benefited. The findings of this study have assisted in the evaluation and planning of the mentor program under study and may be of assistance to other institutions wishing to start or improve upon similar programs. It expands further what we know about mattering and the effects of mentoring on student success and retention. It questions how to best structure mentoring programs for particular institutions and student populations. It is clear that much research is still needed, both qualitative and quantitative, to better understand what takes place in mentoring experiences. Key words: career-decision making self-efficacy, case study, community college, self-efficacy, mattering, mentor, mentoring, mentee, motivation, retention

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Educational leadership, Higher education, Educational administration