Negotiating the mentor protégé relationship : what can be learned from the experience?
Upson, Leslie Kaye
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This study explored the relationship of two mentor-protégé pairs within the internship component of an alternative certification program in secondary science. I collected data using interviews and participant observations during one school year. Four research questions guided the study: 1) What is the nature of the advice given by a science mentor? 2) What do the mentor and protégé each gain from the relationship? 3) What are the tensions that arise in the relationship and how do the mentor and protégé negotiate them? 4) How does the relationship change over the period of the study? Using the frameworks of narrative analysis and analysis of narratives, I analyzed the data and developed cases detailing the experiences of each pair. These cases were then compared for similarities and differences with respect to the participants’ experiences. Themes present included advice given by both mentors within the domains of general pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Both protégés believed they had expanded their views of science teaching. Tensions for both mentors an protégés centered on the themes of expectations versus realities, approaches to teaching, and lack of communication. Three of the four participants experienced a similar cycle in their feelings about their relationships which began with optimism, followed by increasing levels of tensions. One pair was able to resolve their tension and end the relationship on a positive note, the other pair was not. The findings of the relationship highlight the need for changes to mentor training programs and the development of authentic cases to be used with mentors and protégés.