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Mentoring: Improving the Teaching and Learning Experience

Instructional Psychology and Technology Chair Andrew Gibbons and graduate student John Chapman are leading a research project to identify the best practices for mentoring at BYU. Mentoring transforms one-dimensional information delivery into two-dimensional information exchange, placing emphasis on one-to-one interaction. “Since the days of Karl Maeser, BYU has emphasized mentoring in its approach to instruction and learning,” Chapman said. Their research is driven by a desire to understand the skills required for successful mentoring.

Gibbons and Chapman believe that while many educational institutions have placed increased emphasis on economies of scale and distance, BYU has emphasized undergraduate teaching and mentoring. They say the processes and methods of mentoring at BYU have received sparse study, and more should be done to make the unrecognized skills of mentoring visible to a larger population at BYU.

“Mentoring is a very personal experience,” noted Chapman. “It is the antithesis of impersonal instruction.” Gibbons and Chapman are conducting research on the skills for mentoring through the eyes of BYU students and faulty. The team will compile their findings in a book that faculty, instructors, and students will be able to use in mentoring experiences.

The research team will be conducting 100 interviews with students and faculty affiliated with BYU.  A wide range of interviewees will provide insight into mentoring approaches in a variety of disciplines. “We are not looking for a one-size-fits-all mentoring technique,” explained Chapman. “What we’re going to do is look in detail at all the different flavors of mentoring and figure out which skills make them work.”

Once the stories and ideas are collected, the research team will compile their findings into a 200–250-page book. Ultimately they hope to use the information they gather to increase opportunities for learning through mentoring without sacrificing one-on-one interactions in large classes.  This research will benefit a wide population as students leave BYU and practice life-long mentoring and learning.

John Chapman is a PhD student in the IP&T program. Andy Gibbons is the chair of the IP&T department.

28 February 2011