Predictors of mentoring relationship quality and mentors' intention to stay on the program
WORKSHOP LED BY GIOVANNI ARESI
Giovanni Aresi, PhD, is postdoctoral research fellow and adjunct professor of Community Health Psychology at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy. His research focuses on the determinants of health behaviours and positive youth development.
Despite the quality of the mentoring relationship is key to the effectiveness of mentoring, our understanding of what contributes to relationship quality is limited to individual or micro-social-level factors (e.g., mentors’ and mentees’ personal histories). Factors related to the mentoring programme and implementation settings (i.e., schools ) still understudied.
Another key issue for mentoring is to keep volunteers engaged to the programme over time. Having developed a close bond with their mentees may represent an important contribution to mentors’ positive experience with the programme, thus motivating them to continue mentoring. However, theory and research from the volunteerism literature suggest that the relationship closeness – programme continuation connection may be indirect, and at least in part mediated by perceptions of having a successful mentoring experience and a sense of fulfilment (i.e., satisfaction with the relationship).
This study aimed to examine programme and contextual factors associated with mentoring relationship closeness (RC), and how RC in turn is related to mentors’ intention to stay on the programme in the future and their satisfaction with the relationship.
The present study was conducted in collaboration with the Società Umanitaria’s ‘Programma Mentore’. This is a school-based mentoring programme based in four cities in Italy (Milan, Trento, Rome and Naples). Mentors are matched with primary and secondary school children selected by teachers for being at risk of poor academic, behavioural, or health outcomes. During one-hour weekly meetings, mentors provide motivational and socio-emotional support to their mentees.
A survey was completed by 103 mentors. Measures were drawn from the Match Characteristics Questionnaire (MCQ) and included perceptions of perceived programme and teacher support, and adequacy of mentoring session setting (i.e., the room where they meet), relationship closeness, satisfaction with the relationship, and intention to continue mentoring in the future. Path analyses were used to investigate predictors of relationship affective quality and intention to continue mentoring in accordance with the hypothesized conceptual model.
Path analyses evidenced that the model had an excellent fit to the data. Analyses demonstrated that mentor-reported relationship closeness was associated in a positive manner with perceived programme
support and the degree of adequacy of session setting, though teacher support was not. Results also revealed that mentors’ satisfaction with the relationship partially mediated the connection between relationship closeness and volunteers’ intentions to stay on the programme in the future.
Results of this study: 1) remark the importance of providing ongoing support for mentors and a suitable setting for mentoring sessions to foster the forge of stronger bonds with their mentees; and 2) confirm and extend those of previous studies both in the mentoring and the general volunteer literature on the importance of volunteers’ sense of fulfilment and sense-making of their work in determining their commitment to the programme and participation over time.