A phenomenological case study of mentoring outcomes : benefiting the mentor in student development, self-esteem, and identity formation

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Conrady, Lara Lee, 1977-

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This qualitative study sought to provide a list of outcomes that mentors have as a result of being involved in a service-learning course over the course of one academic semester. The service learning course, Leadership in the Community, requires the enrollees to serve as a mentor to a local middle school student. Specifically, this study examined the mentoring outcomes of student development, self-esteem, and personal reflection. Data included semistructured interviews, researcher observations, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE), mentor journals, and personal reflection papers. Twenty-one participants were included in this study. An analysis of the data sources illustrated how each participant experiences mentoring and its outcomes and was informed using literature on mentoring, self-esteem, student development, and service-learning including: Maslow (1976), Chickering and Reisser (1993), Boyer (1990), Kram (1985), and Rosenberg (1965). In summary, this study's purpose was to identify mentoring outcomes and how participation in a service- learning course can contribute to changes in student development, self-esteem levels, and personal reflection. This study found that participants enrolled in the course for specific reasons, which included (a) forming relationships, (b) providing hope and promoting personal development, and (c) modeling goal setting. In regards to self-esteem development, the Leadership in the Community course provided the participants with a positive support system, a forum for sharing personal accomplishments, and an outlet to serve the local community by serving as a mentor. The participants displayed the ability to personally reflect about themselves and their mentoring experience in classroom interactions, mentor journals, interviews, and personal reflection papers. Themes and patterns noted in the participants' personal reflection were reflections about (a) personal growth, (b) identity formation, (c) past experiences, and (d) experiences with their classmates. This study suggests that service-learning courses that require mentoring as an enrollment requirement provides participants with an opportunity to develop as a student and as a person by contributing to the local community, increasing self-esteem, and reflecting upon one's past experiences. This study also makes a contribution to the literature by examining the mentoring relationship from the mentor's perspective. This departure from the existing literature on the mentoring relationship provides a new perspective for future research.