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Mentoring New Faculty at a Christian University in the Northeast: Developing a Framework for Programming

Donna M Cook, Johnson & Wales University


Mentoring has been used in various fields as a professional development and acculturation tool (Kram, 1991) and is used extensively in higher education (Cunningham, 1999). However, despite numerous studies based on faculty mentoring, those conducted at Christian institutions of higher education have been limited. The study was framed by several constructs: mentoring, professional development, and institutional mission. Evidence exists demonstrating the benefits of mentoring and suggesting it as a component in attracting and retaining higher education faculty (Luna & Cullen, 2008). Research has shown that mentoring is necessary to career advancement, research activity, and pedagogical development of faculty (Kram, 1980), and that mentoring programs act as an extension of institutional mission by acculturating faculty (Simon, 2003). As missions for Christian institutions are grounded in service, affording mentoring programs to new faculty members is a means of providing service to them. This study utilized a sequential explanatory, single case study design to examine the research question: What are the perceptions of faculty toward mentoring in a small Christian university in the Northeast? Study participants consisted of full-time and part-time faculty (N = 257). The quantitative portion of the study included data from a web-based, questionnaire. To provide corroborating data, three focus groups (N = 20) were used to gain additional and clearer theme-specific information, and clarified any conflicting data from the questionnaire. The findings determined the most important functions, activities, and guiding qualities of mentoring programs perceived by faculty members. Also determined were the most significant pressures perceived by faculty as being hindrances in becoming involved in mentoring programs. Demographics were used as independent variables to determine if any significant differences could be determined across any of the dimensions with regard to the demographics: gender, tenure status, employment status, area of discipline, level of instruction, and years of teaching experience. Overall, no significant findings were determined across any of the three dimensions regarding any demographic group. This is an important finding, as a universal design may be used to construct a framework for mentoring programming. The study results were used as a guidepost, aligned with faculty expressed preferences, in constructing a framework for a junior faculty mentoring program at the site university, as one does not exist. In addition, the information will be used in writing a proposal to request grant funding for the development of a site mentoring program.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|Religious education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Cook, Donna M, "Mentoring New Faculty at a Christian University in the Northeast: Developing a Framework for Programming" (2011). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3450933.