Using technology in mentoring relationships
Thomas, Anthony Martin
MetadataShow full item record
Through the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC), possibilities exist to create mentoring relationships between individuals separated by distance. These possibilities have resulted in a recent explosion in the number of online mentoring programs that exist. Ensher, Heun and Blanchard (2003) stated that the number of online mentoring programs grew significantly in the first two years of this century. Despite this growth, research has not kept pace to ascertain the unique opportunities and challenges associated with online mentoring (Bierema & Merriam, 2002; Ensher et al., 2003). The purpose of this dissertation is to address three research questions regarding online mentoring in the professional development of pre- and in-service teachers. First, how do prior experiences teachers have with mentoring and computer-mediated communication (CMC) influence their willingness to participate in online mentoring programs? Second, what are the affordances offered and constraints posed by various forms of CMC on mentoring relationships for teachers? Last, how does CMC impact the access to mentors for teachers? A group of pre- and in-service teachers completed an online survey. Interviews were conducted with a subset of the online survey participants. Building Resources: An Inductive Design for Georgia Educators (BRIDGE) was specifically considered in the interviews. Willingness to participate in an online mentoring program may increase when the online mentoring program provides opportunities for reciprocal learning between mentor and protégé. Participants described instances in which face-to-face mentors addressed their professional needs. In these cases, the participants were less inclined to seek help from online mentors. Although e-mail does not provide information like tone of voice, e-mail was described as the most common form of CMC. The participants expressed a willingness to learn more about video teleconferencing. One of the chief constraints to video teleconferencing was lack of access to this form of technology. Recommendations are made in the dissertation regarding providing access to online mentors to improve standards-based reforms described in Wang and Odell (2002).