A case study of the perspectives of three first-year teachers and their mentors on mentoring through the use of electronic mail
Evans, Charles Daniel
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In recent years, the idea of using electronic mail to mentor beginning teachers has rapidly emerged. A review of the literature revealed no studies that examined the perspectives of teachers on mentoring through the use of electron mail. This case study was designed to learn the perspectives of three first-year teachers and their mentors on the use of electronic mail in mentoring, and to learn of any issues which may arise while participating in electron mentoring. The six participants were chosen from a single middle school in Georgia. The researcher conducted two interviews with each of the participants, and one focus group interview with all participants at the conclusion of the study. The transcripts and other data sources were analyzed using the constant comparative method of data analysis. The major findings included some positive aspects of electronic mentoring such as the benefit of saving time through the use of electron mail, and the ability to ocrrespond at one's won convenience. Furthermore, some participants dicussed the convenience of keeping electronic mentoring correspondence as records of issues dicussed. The participants also discussed some negative aspects of electronic mentoring, such as the need for some face-to-face interaction in mentoring programs, the impersonal nature of electronic mentoring, and the need to be within physical proximity of mentors. The findings also indicated that mentoring participants may find it difficult to portray tone in the texts of electronic mentoring correspondence, which may cause ideas or statements to be misconstrued. Additionally, the study found that participants preferred to discuss in-depth issues face-to-face, and use electronic mail for issues which could be addressed quickly and at the convenience of the participants. Through the analysis of the data a darker side of electronic mentoring emerged as well. Findings indicated that some educators could possibly use records of electronic ocrrespondence punitively against novice teachers. The participants agreed that electronic mentoring does not work effectively as the sole method of communication between mentors and proteges. The findings are presented, as well as implications of the study, and suggerstions for further research in the area of electronic mentoring.
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