Understanding the Mentoring Process

Project Overview

The purpose of this study is to learn more about how mentoring relationships develop and what makes them work well. To achieve this, we tracked the development of 67 youth-mentor matches made through the community and school programs of the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay for up to two years. Mentors and youth completed surveys and open-ended interviews before their initial match meeting and every three months after that for the first year of their match. The parents or guardians of the youth also completed surveys and interviews before the match was made and then again after the match had been active for one year or when the match ended, whichever came first. Those matches that continued into a second year were followed every six months.

This study is among the first to so closely follow the development of mentoring relationships and gather detailed information from the participants’ own perspectives. We are exploring different themes and trends in these data including:

  • the hopes and expectations that mentors, youth, and parents have for these relationships
  • what makes for a close, enduring, and effective mentoring relationship
  • the role that parents play in the mentoring process
  • how differences in racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds shape the development of these relationships

The findings from this study are allowing us to identify some factors that contribute to these relationships going well and areas where challenges arise, which can in turn inform and improve mentoring program practices.

This research is being funded by the William T. Grant Foundation Scholar Award Program.

Principal Investigator

Renée Spencer, EdD, LICSW
Associate Professor, Boston University School of Social Work
rspenc@bu.edu

Project Publications and Presentations

*Denotes student coauthor

Spencer, R., & *Basualdo-Delmonico, A. (In press). Termination and closure of mentoring relationships. In D. L. DuBois & M. J. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of youth mentoring (2nd Ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Spencer, R., & *Basualdo-Delmonico, A. (2013, April). Practitioners’ perspectives on family involvement in youth mentoring programs. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting (N. Deutsch, Poster Symposium Chairperson), Seattle, WA.

*Basualdo-Delmonico, A., & Spencer, R. (2013, January). Family involvement in youth mentoring. Workshop presented at the National Mentoring Summit, Washington, D.C.

*Basualdo-Delmonico, A. & Spencer, R. (2012, October). The problem with parents: Challenging the deficit discourse around parental involvement in youth mentoring relationships. Poster presented at the 11th Annual Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture Diversity Challenge conference, Boston College, Boston, MA.

Spencer, R. (2012). A working model of mentors’ contributions to youth mentoring relationship quality: Insights from research on psychotherapy. LEARNing Landscapes, 5, 295-312. (Invited)

Spencer, R., *Basualdo-Delmonico, A., & *Lewis, T. O. (2011). Working to make it work: The role of parents in the youth mentoring process. Journal of Community Psychology, 39(1), 51-59.

Spencer, R., *Basualdo-Delmonico, A., & *Walsh, J. (2011, March). The good the bad and the ugly: A qualitative interview study of endings in youth mentoring relationships. Symposium paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting (R. Spencer, Chairperson), Montreal, Canada.

Spencer, R., Martin, N. C., *Basualdo-Delmonico, A., *Walsh, J. & *Jeon, S. M. (2010, November). Youth mentoring relationships: The role of mentor expectations and characteristics in relationship closeness and duration. Poster presented at 138th American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Denver, CO.

Lederer, J., Basualdo-Delmonico, A., & Spencer, R. (2009, November). Barriers, bumps and bridges: How cultural differences shape the youth mentoring process over time. Paper to be presented at the 137th American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

Spencer, R., *Basualdo-Delmonico, A., & *Lewis, T. O. (2009, October). The role of parents in youth mentoring relationships: A qualitative interview study. Symposium paper presented at the 9th Annual Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture Diversity Challenge conference, (M. Porche, Chairperson), Boston College, Boston, MA

Spencer, R., Lewis, T. O., Basualdo-Delmonico, A. (2009, January). Mentoring across differences: How race and class shape the youth mentoring process. Paper presented at Society for Social Work Research Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA.

Spencer, R., Lewis, T. O., Basualdo-Delmonico, A., &  Frederiksen, B. (2008, March)  Parents’ perspectives on youth mentoring relationships. Poster presented at the Society for Research on Adolescence Biennial Meeting, Chicago, IL.

Spencer, R., Lewis, T. O., Basualdo-Delmonico, A.  (2007, October). Mentoring in a multicultural society: A complex relationship. In L. Fortuna, Chair, Mentoring, teaching, and treating urban minority youth across community and individual differences. Paper presented at the 7th annual Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture Diversity Challenge Conference, Boston College, Boston, MA