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Teacher perceptions of mentoring in a K–12 New England urban school district

Kimberly Behan, Johnson & Wales University


Recent studies revealed that 30% of all new K-12 teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years across the nation. High turnover among new teachers keeps schools staffed with novices teachers lacking the skills needed to support students, especially in high poverty district (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). It is believed that mentoring novice teachers can support districts to maintain a consistent, effective teaching staff. Teacher mentor programs are believed to increase longevity and satisfaction (Lipton & Wellman, 2007; Olson, 2007; West, 2002). Although mentoring programs have been found empirically to support novice teachers bridge the theory-practice gap, it is not without drawbacks (Moran & Dallat, 1995). Given the vast research on mentoring programs, this study can help fill the gap by looking at supports provided to new teachers in an urban district (Olsen & Anderson, 2007). This mixed method sequential study explored teacher perceptions of mentor programs in order to support teacher retention, in an urban. The first phase of the study employed a qualitative method using focus groups which consisted of mentors n = 6 and mentees n = 8 novice teachers from an urban New England Public School System. The first research question focused on participants' perceptions of the existing mentor program. The second phase of the study utilized a questionnaire with N = 61 mentor participants in order to corroborate the findings from the focus groups. The second research question explored the differences in teacher perceptions by school level with regard to the program being mandated by the district and the proximity to the mentor based on content and grade level. Questionnaire data were analyzed using a one-way ANOVA. The qualitative data revealed that when mentor and mentees were partnered based on proximity in regards to grade and content level, the mentor relationship met with success. The quantitative data revealed there was no significant difference between grade levels with regard to proximity to grade content level (F = 2.12, p = .13), proximity ( F = .41, p = .67), and the program being mandated (F = .41, p = .67). However, there was a significant finding with regard to grade level among the respondents ( F = 7.47, p = .002, ES = Medium). Mentors and mentees reported the mentor programs success was based on proximity, the ability of the mentor to coach, and policy changes mandating the program for new teachers entering the district. Districts that support their novice teachers with effective mentor programs hold the key to assuring that new teachers are well trained in their beginning years. This study can support the New England School districts by exploring one district's mentor program and making recommendations for improvements.

Subject Area

Educational administration|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Behan, Kimberly, "Teacher perceptions of mentoring in a K–12 New England urban school district" (2008). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3315154.