ArticlePDF Available

The Test of Time: Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

The effects and predictors of duration in youth mentor relationships were examined. The study included 1,138 young, urban adolescents (Mean age 12.25), all of whom applied to Big Brothers Big Sisters programs. The adolescents were randomly assigned to either the treatment or control group, and administered questions at baseline and 18 months later Adolescents in relationships that lasted a year or longer reported the largest number of improvements, with progressively fewer effects emerging among youth who were in relationships that terminated earlier. Adolescents who were in relationships that terminated within a very short period of time reported decrements in several indicators of functioning. Older adolescents, as well as those who had been referred for services or had sustained emotional, sexual or physical abuse, were most likely to be in early terminating relationships, as were married volunteers aged 26-30 and those with lower incomes. Several dyadic factors were also found to be related to earlier terminations, including race, gender, and relationship quality.
Content may be subject to copyright.
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
American Journal of Community Psychology, Vol. 30, No. 2, April 2002 (
C°
2002)
The Test of Time: Predictors and Effects of
Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships
1
Jean B. Grossman
2
Public/Private Ventures
Jean E. Rhodes
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The effects and predictors of duration in youth mentor relationships were ex-
amined. The study included 1,138 young, urban adolescents (Mean age =
12.25), all of whom applied to Big Brothers Big Sisters programs. The ado-
lescents were randomly assigned to either the treatment or control group, and
administered questions at baseline and 18 months later. Adolescents in rela-
tionships that lasted a year or longer reported the largest number of improve-
ments, with progressively fewer effects emerging among youth who were in
relationships that terminated earlier. Adolescents who were in relationships
that terminated within a very short period of time reported decrements in
several indicators of functioning. Older adolescents, as well as those who had
been referred for services or had sustained emotional, sexual or physical abuse,
were most likely to be in early terminating relationships, as were married vol-
unteers aged 26–30 and those with lower incomes. Several dyadic factors were
also found to be related to earlier terminations, including race, gender, and
relationship quality.
KEY WORDS: mentoring; adolescence; volunteerism.
1
This study was completed with the assistance of a grant from the William T. Grant Foundation.
The authors also gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Joseph P. Tierney, Nancy Resch,
Sarah Pepper, and the cooperation of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
2
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Public/Private Ventures, One Commerce
Square, 2005 Market Street, Suite 900, Philadelphia, Pennyslvania 19103.
199
0091-0562/02/0400-0199/0
C
°
2002 Plenum Publishing Corporation
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
200 Grossman and Rhodes
INTRODUCTION
Interventions that linkadolescents with volunteer mentors havebecome
increasingly common in recent years. An estimated five million American
youth are currently involved in school- and community-based volunteer
mentoring programs nationwide, including more than 100,000 participants
in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America programs (McLearn, Colasanto,
& Schoen, 1998). Enduring mentoring relationships have been found to be
associated with a range of benefits to youth. But what are the consequences
to adolescents when relationships terminate prematurely? Indeed, approx-
imately half of all youth mentoring relationships dissolve after only a few
months, often as the result of the volunteers feeling overwhelmed, burned
out, or unappreciated (Freedman, 1993; Hamilton & Hamilton, 1990; Styles
& Morrow, 1992). Here we address this issue, and attempt to identify the
predictors of early termination in youth mentoring relationships.
Background
Evaluations of volunteer mentoring programs provide evidence of pos-
itive influences on adolescent developmental outcomes, including improve-
ments in academic achievement, self-concept, prosocial behavior, and in-
terpersonal relationships (Davidson, Redner, Blakely, Mitchell, & Esmhoff,
1987; DuBois & Neville, 1997; Grossman & Tierney; 1998; LoSciuto, Rajala,
Townsend, & Taylor, 1996). Despite this evidence, very little is known about
how variations in the characteristics of mentor relationships relate to youth
outcomes. For example, while some relationships last for several years, many
volunteer relationships terminate within only a few months. Because the
central component of mentoring is the formation of intensive one-on-one
relationships, terminations may touch on vulnerabilities in youth in ways
that other, less personal interventions do not. This may be particularly true
for youth who are referred to relationship-based interventions. In particular,
many adolescents in mentoring programs come from single-parent homes
(an eligibility requirement for some programs) and may have already sus-
tained the loss of regular contact with their nonresidential parent. Such
youth may feel particularly vulnerable to, and responsible for, problems in
subsequent adult relationships (Wallerstein, 1988). Other youth may have
experienced unsatisfactory or rejecting parental relationships in the past.
Consequently, they may have developed internal representations of rela-
tionships that incorporate fears and doubts about whether others will ac-
cept and support them (Bowlby, 1982; Egeland, Jacobvitz, & Sroufe, 1988).
When such adolescents encounter cues that relationships will not proceed,
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships 201
however minimal or ambiguous, they may readily perceive intentional re-
jection from their mentors (Downey & Feldman, 1996; Downey, Lebolt,
Rincon, & Freitas, 1998).
Irrespective of their relationship histories, all youth may show certain
vulnerabilities to early terminations. Adolescence is a life stage during which
issues of acceptance and rejection are especially salient (Cauce, Mason,
Gonzales, Hiraga, & Liu, 1994; Lerner & Galambos, 1998). To the extent that
adolescents have identified with their mentors, and have begun to value the
relationship, they may feel profound disappointment when the relationship
does not progress. Feelings of rejection and disappointment, in turn, may
lead to a host of negative emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes
(Downey et al., 1998).
Mentor relationships thattake hold, on the otherhand, are likely to grow
progressively more effective with time. Researchers generally agree that
mentors promote positive developmental outcomes through role modeling
and the provision of emotional support and positive feedback. By serving as
supportive models of success, mentors may directly stimulate improvements
in adolescents’ self-perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors (Bandura, 1969;
Hamilton & Hamilton, 1990; Klaw & Rhodes, 1995; Taylor, 1989; Walker
& Freedman, 1996). Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest that
mentors may affect change through their positive influence on the more
proximal relationships in adolescents’ lives. By helping adolescents cope
with everyday stressors, providing a model for effective conflict resolution,
and indirectly reducing parental stress, mentor relationships are thought
to have the capacity to facilitate improvements in parent–child interactions
(Flaxman, Ascher, & Harringon, 1988; Rhodes, Grossman, & Resch, 2000;
Rhodes, Haight, & Briggs, 1999). Additionally, enduring positive relation-
ships may modify adolescents’ general perceptions of relationships (Bowlby,
1982; Belsky & Cassidy, 1994; Sroufe, 1995). Specifically, mentors can chal-
lenge negative views that adolescents may hold of themselves or of relation-
ships with adults and demonstrate that positive, caring relationships with
adults are possible. The helping relationship can thus become a “corrective
experience” for those adolescents who may have experienced unsatisfactory
relationships with their parents (Olds, Kitzman, Cole, & Robinson, 1997;
Main, Kaplan, & Cassidy, 1985).
Because such processes are complex and, in some instances, may in-
volve changes in internal representations of relationships, it is likely that the
benefits of mentoring emerge over a relatively long period of time (Rhodes
et al., in press). In their qualitative investigation of mentoring relationships,
for example, Styles and Morrow (1992) concluded that youth needed to be
engaged with their mentors for at least 6 months before the relationships
began to take hold. We examine the issue of duration in the current study,
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
202 Grossman and Rhodes
and attempt to determine whether there is some minimum level of exposure
after which benefits are more likely to emerge.
In light of the potential significance of relationship duration, both in
terms of the possible harm associated with early terminations and the ben-
efits of sustained contact, it is also important to identify factors that predict
the length of the relationship. Observations of mentoring programs, as well
as a small but growing body of psychological research on volunteerism, sug-
gest that early terminations of volunteer relationships may occur for a wide
variety of reasons. Graduations, illnesses, or changes in family structure or
residence, for instance, may influence adolescents’ eligibility or leave dyads
unable to meet on a regular basis (Sipe, 1996). Some volunteers may be dis-
couraged by what they perceive as a lack of appreciation on the part of their
mentee or find that the personal investment that is required to work with
troubled adolescents exceeds their expectations, particularly if the volun-
teers’ involvement is drawing them away from social and family obligations
(Freedman, 1993; Omoto & Snyder, 1995). In some instances, adolescents
may terminate relationships in response to what they perceive as unsupport-
ive, disappointing, or overly demanding mentors (Styles & Morrow, 1992).
Still other dyads may lack a basic chemistry and the relationships may grad-
ually give way to other demands. Indeed, Flaxman et al. (1988) has discussed
the social distance that often exists among middle-class mentors and lower-
income mentees, particularly when the mentors and mentees are of different
races. In this study, we will attempt to identify volunteer, adolescent, and
dyadic predictors of sustained involvement in mentoring relationships.
Goals of the Current Paper
To address the issues raised above, we examine the differential effects
and predictors of mentor relationships of varying lengths. It is hypothesized
that the effects of mentoring relationships will intensify with time, and that
relatively short matches will be disruptive to youth. Next we examine the
predictors of relationship duration. At a theoretical level, identifying ef-
fects and predictors of sustained volunteerism touches on questions that
are fundamental to our understanding of helping relationships (i.e., how
does duration affect outcome? what personal and social factors promote
long-term involvement?). Moreover, in light of the sheer number of ado-
lescents who are currently involved in volunteer mentoring interventions,
as well as the lack of empirically based guidelines for the screening and
matching of volunteers, findings regarding the effects and predictors of re-
lationship duration are likely to have far-reaching implications. This study
makes use of longitudinal data from the largest and arguably most influential,
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships 203
evaluation of mentoring to date (Grossman & Tierney, 1998) to address these
issues.
METHOD
Participants
The study included 1,138 youth, all of whom applied to Big Brothers
Big Sisters programs in 1992 and 1993. Applicants were randomly assigned
to either the treatment or control group, and administered questions at base-
line and 18 months later. Eighty-five percent of the sample (N = 959; 487
treatments and 472 controls) completed both the baseline and the follow-up
interviews. Over half of this analysis sample were boys (62.4%) and ap-
proximately half were members of minority groups (57.5%). Seventy-one
percent of the minority youth were African Americans, 18% were Hispanic,
and the remaining were members of a variety of other racial/ethnic groups.
Participants ranged in age from 10 to 16 (Mean = 12.25), most (69%) of
whom were between the ages of 11 and 13. More than 40% of the youth lived
in households that were receiving food stamps and/or public assistance. The
only systematic difference between the treatment and control group youth
at baseline was that the treatment youth had the opportunity to be matched
with mentors.
Design and Procedure
From the network of over 500 Big Brothers Big Sisters local agencies,
8 agencies were selected to participate in the outcome study. The key selec-
tion criteria for inclusion in the impact study were a large, active caseload
waiting list and geographic diversity. With only a few exceptions, all of the
youth who enrolled in the 8 selected Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies dur-
ing the intake period were encouraged to participate in the research. Once a
youth was informed about the study, determined to be eligible, and assented
to participate (along with parents’ signed, informed consent), he or she was
randomly assigned to either the treatment or control group. Only 2.7% of the
youth refused to participate in the evaluation. The control group was placed
on a waiting list for a poststudy match. All participants were interviewed by
telephone before they knew their experimental status. Follow-up interviews
were conducted 18 months later by telephone with baselined participants.
Agency staff matched particular adult volunteers with particular youth
on the basis of a variety of factors, including shared interest, reasonable
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
204 Grossman and Rhodes
geographic proximity, and same-race match preference. All volunteers un-
derwent an intensive screening process, followed by agency-based train-
ing and case management. At the conclusion of the study, 378 (78%) of
the treatment youth had been matched.
3
At the time of the follow-up,
matched youth had been meeting with their mentors for approximately
12 months, while 40% of the matches were no longer meeting. Among
closed matches, the pairs met for an average of 9 months. The ongoing
matches had been meeting an average of 12.9 months. Over 70% of the
youth met with their mentor at least three times a month and approximately
45% met one or more times per week. An average meeting lasted 3.6 hr.
Dyads typically engaged in a wide variety of leisure- and goal-oriented dis-
cussions and activities with the overall goal of promoting the youth’s positive
development.
Measures
Parent Relationships
The Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA; Armsden
& Greenberg, 1987) is a 23-item scale containing questions related to a
child or adolescent’s relationship with his/her primary care giver (the cor-
responding peer questions were not administered). Responses are coded
on a 4-point scale, ranging from 1 (hardly ever true)to4(very often true).
The IPPA contains three subscales: communication (e.g., my mother can tell
when I am upset about something), trust (e.g., my father respects my feel-
ings), and alienation (e.g., talking over problems with my mother makes me
feel ashamed or foolish). At pretest, Cronbach’s alpha reliability coefficients
of the subscales were .77, .83, and .76, respectively.
Scholastic Competence
This six-item subscale of the Self-Perception Profile for Children
(Harter, 1986) contains statements describing confidence in school work,
3
Agency staff reported three major reasons for the failure to match the 109 treatment youth
during the study period. Thirty-three of the unmatched treatment youth became ineligible
during the study period because the parent remarried, the youth was no longer within the
eligible age range, or the youth’s place of residence changed. Thirty-one were not matched
because the youth no longer wanted a Big Brother or Big Sister. Twenty-one were not matched
because a suitable volunteer could not be found during the study period. The 24 remaining
treatment youth were not matched for a variety of reasons, most commonly because the parent
or youth did not follow through with the intake process.
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships 205
dividing children into two groups, e.g., “some kids feel that they are very
good at their schoolwork/other kids worry about whether they can do the
schoolwork assigned to them. Respondents were asked to determine if they
were more like the first or second group, and whether the statement was
“really true” or “sort of true” for them (α = .77).
Grades and Attendance
Individual items relating to scholastic behaviors were asked, including
grades, number of unexcused absences from school, visits to college cam-
puses, books read, trips to the library, hours spent on homework, and hours
spent reading. For purposes of this study, we focused on grades and the
number of unexcused absences.
School Value
This 18-item measure (Berndt & Miller, 1986) assesses the extent to
which respondents value academic success and the information that they
learn in school, e.g., “do you care about doing your best at school?” Respon-
dents were asked to indicate the frequency with which they felt certain ways
about school, ranging from 1 (hardly ever)to4(pretty often)(α =.86).
Self-Worth
This six-item subscale of the Self-Perception Profile for Children
(Harter, 1986) contains statements describing the global self-worth of two
groups, “e.g., some kids are pretty pleased with themselves/other kids are
often unhappy with themselves. Respondents were asked to determine
whether they were more like the first or second group, and whether the
statement was “really true” or “sort of true” for them (α = .75).
Quality of Relationship
Relationship quality was determined by Langhout, Osborne, and
Rhodes’ analysis of scales that characterized youth’s feelings toward their
mentors (Langhout, Osborne, & Rhodes, 1999). The two scales that were
most predictive of outcomes, “youth-centered” or the degree to which the
volunteer took the youth’s desires into consideration and “disappointment”
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
206 Grossman and Rhodes
or the degree to which youth felt let down or disappointed by their mentors,
were considered indices of relationship quality.
Length of Relationship
Relationship length was assessed in terms of months, and coded as 0 for
all controls and unmatched treatment participants.
RESULTS
Study 1: Effects of Relationship Length
In order to investigate the effects of relationship duration, we began by
categorizing the mentored youth into four groups, depending on how long
their matches had lasted: less than 3 months (6%), 3 to just under 6 months
(13%), 6 to just under 12 months (36%), and 12 months or more (45%). We
then used multivariate regression to estimate the effect of the length of the
match on youth outcomes.
Specifically, the four length-of-match dummy variables were entered
into a regression equation for each outcome. The equations were estimated
over the full sample—treatment and control youth. All of the length-of-
match dummies were set equal to zero for the controls and unmatched treat-
ment participants. Because we were interested in explaining the changes
during the 18-month period, not the level of the outcomes, we controlled
for baseline levels of variables. Other baseline characteristics were also in-
cluded in the models to reduce the variance unrelated to mentoring.
4
Table I
presents the resulting estimates of how treatment youth fared compared
with similar control group youth who did not have mentors. Youth who
were in matches that terminated within the first 3 months suffered sig-
nificant declines in their global self-worth and their perceived scholastic
4
In addition to the length-of-match variables, the following variables were also included in the
regressions: the baseline value of the outcome; the youth’s age, gender, race; whether the youth
was an academic underachiever; if the youth was learning disabled; if the parent worked full
time; if the family received welfare; if the parent had a GED or high school diploma; if the
youth had repeated a grade; if the youth was an only child; the number of siblings; the number
of moves the youth had made in the 2 years prior to applying for BBBS; whether the youth had
a natural mentor; whether the youth had a Big previously; whether the custodial parent was
male; if the parent had been a teen parent; if the parent had never been married; if the parent
had referred the child; if the youth had experienced emotional, sexual, or physical abuse; if
the other parent was missing due to death, divorce, or illness; if the family had a history of
substance abuse or domestic violence; if the youth live in a rural or urban environment; and
the agency.
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships 207
Table I. Estimated Impacts Using the Observed Length of Match (Standardized Coefficients)
Outcome <3 mo 3–6 mo 6–12 mo 12+ mo
Self-worth 2.24
∗∗
(.05) 0.30 (.25) 0.08 (.48) 0.76
(.08)
Perceived social acceptance 0.95 (.02) 0.19 (.02) 0.28 (.03) 0.83
(.07)
Perceived scholastic competence 1.83
(.03) 0.58 (.10) 0.53 (.08) 0.93
(.12)
Skipping school 0.26 (.09) 0.18 (.07) 0.65
(.12) 0.40 (.08) (p = .06)
Grades 0.07 (.05) 0.10 (.05) 0.08 (.03) 0.26 (.07) (p = .06)
Value of school 1.16 (.05) 0.58 (.08) 1.15 (.02) 1.85
∗∗
(.11)
Quality of the parental relationship 1.75 (.04) 4.17
(.09) 0.30 (.00) 2.35
(.08)
Hitting someone 1.28 (.11) 2.08
(14) 1.06 (.09) 0.17 (.02)
Frequency of drug use 0.21 (.03) 0.39 (.01) 0.40
∗∗
(.12) 0.34
(.11)
Frequency of alcohol use 0.29 (.06) 0.18 (.05) 0.12 (.01) 0.57
(.05)
p .05.
∗∗
p .01.
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
208 Grossman and Rhodes
competence. On the other hand, youth who were in matches that lasted more
than 12 months reported significant increases in their self-worth, perceived
social acceptance, perceived scholastic competence, parental relationship
quality, school value, and decreases in both drug and alcohol use.
This pattern of estimated impacts is consistent with the hypotheses that
short-lived matches can have detrimental effects on youth; and that the
impact of mentoring grows as the relationship matures. However, a similar
pattern would also have been observed if the youth who were particularly
well-adjusted were also the youth most likely to be able to sustain mentor
relationships, whereas the less well-adjusted youth were the mostlikely to fail
in establishing a relationship with a mentor. If this were the case, then youth
in longer matches may have improved relative to those in shorter matches,
not because of their greater dosage of mentoring, but simply because length-
of-match sorts youth on the basis of their adjustment status.
Statistically, the selection bias would manifest itself as a correlation be-
tween the length of the mentoring relationship and youth outcomes. One
can correct for this potential selection bias by substituting an instrument for
length of match that is similar to the observed length of match but which
is purged of the unwanted correlation with the error term. This can be ac-
complished using the statistical technique called Two-Stage Least Squares
(2SLS; Berry & Feldman, 1985; James & Singh, 1978). In the first-stage re-
gression, the endogenous variable, length-of-match, is regressed on all the
exogenous variables in the model, plus additional variables that are cor-
related with length of match but uncorrelated with the outcome variables.
We use the number of times the youth has moved during the 18-month
follow-up period and whether they live in two-parent families at follow-up,
because if the youth moves out of the BBBS catchment area or lives in
a two-parent household they become ineligible for BBBS. The predicted
value of length-of-match, which is now assumed to be free of correlated
error, is used in place of the original value in the second stage of the re-
gression. By regressing length-of-match onto variables that are unrelated
to youth outcomes, the predicted value is assumed to be unrelated to youth
outcomes. Thus, the estimates produced in the second stage of the regression
are considered consistent estimates of the effect of relationship length on the
outcomes.
A first stage regression of length of match on all the system’s exoge-
nous variables plus the identifying variable was performed. Overall, the cor-
relation between the resulting instrumental variable (included in Stage 2)
and the observed length of match is equal to .44. However, the model did
poorly in predicting short matches. The correlation between the instrument
and the observed length of match is equal to .36 for matches that lasted at
least 6 months but only .02 for matches that lasted less than 6 months. The
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships 209
Table II. Estimated Impacts Using Two-Stage Least Squares
Outcome <6 mo 6–12 mo 12+ mo
Self-worth 0.02 (.00) 0.20 (.02) 0.48 (.04)
Perceived social acceptance 0.92 (.01) 0.04 (.00) 1.10
∗∗
(.09)
Perceived scholastic 3.06 (.03) 0.69
(.07) 0.81
(.07)
competence
Skipping school 1.30 (.02) 0.36
(.07) 0.65
∗∗
(1.00)
Grades 0.36 (.01) 0.15 (.04) 0.21 (.05)
Value of school 3.65 (.02) 0.59 (.35) 0.94 (.05)
Quality of the parental 0.11 (.00) 1.26 (.05) 1.74 (.05)
relationship
Hitting someone 1.85 (.01) 1.26
∗∗
(.09) 0.14 (.09)
Frequency of drug use 0.29 (.09) 0.19 (.06) ( p = .08) 0.31
(.09)
Frequency of alcohol use 4.85
(.07) 0.10 (.02) 0.55
(.07)
p .05.
∗∗
p .01.
first-stage regression couldhave done poorly in predictingvery short matches
for one of two reasons. If early terminations were driven primarily by the
mentor, then the estimates in Table I (using the observed length of match)
are unbiased and valid. Alternatively, if the terminations were youth driven,
then we would have a poor model of short matches. This implies that the
standard errors of the estimates in Stage 2 would be large, but the esti-
mates would still be unbiased. For the second-stage regression, we grouped
matches into three categories: less than 6 months, 6 to less than 12 months,
and 12 months or more.
Table II presents the 2SLS estimates of length of match on the out-
comes. Although the point estimates changed, the pattern of impacts still
primarily held. There were no significant, positive effects for short matches
lasting less than 6 months and, in fact, the only significant finding for this
group was an increase in alcohol use. There were a few significant findings
in the 6–12-month group—an increase in perceived scholastic competence,
a decrease in days skipped, and a decrease in the number of times the youth
hit someone else. The largest number of significant, positive effects emerged
in the 12-month or longer group, an increase in perceived scholastic com-
petence and self-perceived social acceptance, and reductions in truancy and
substance use. In general, the significant, positive impacts increased with
relationship duration (see Fig. 1).
Predictors of Relationship Length
In light of the importance of duration to youth outcomes, the next step
was to identify factors that were associated with longer matches. At follow-
up, 60% of matches that had been made were still intact. Thus, we do not
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
210 Grossman and Rhodes
Fig. 1. Outcomes as a function of relationship duration.
know how long they ultimately lasted. Given that the completed length of
match is not observed for all sample members (i.e., some of the data are cen-
sured), ordinary least-squares techniques would have produced biased infer-
ences about factors associated with the longevity of matches. An appropri-
ate analytical technique for analyzing censured data is proportional hazard
rate analysis (Cox, 1972; Kalbfreisch & Prentice, 1980). This technique takes
into account the fact that some of the observations are not censured (i.e., the
shorter matches), whereas others are (i.e., the longer matches). Underlying
this approach is the assumption that all matches experience a probability of
breaking up each period. The smaller this break-up or “hazard” rate is, the
longer the match is expected to last. Before presenting information about
which factors increase or decrease the likelihood that a match breaks up, we
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships 211
Fig. 2. Kaplan–Meier empirical hazard rates.
present information on the observed monthly hazard rates to help put the
estimated parameters into perspective.
Figure 2 plots the Kaplan–Meier empirical hazard rate. Each rate is
calculated as the number of matches that close in a given month relative to
the number of matches that survived that month. The average hazard rate (h)
is .06, which implies that the expected length of a match is 1/h or 16.6 months.
A 25% increase in this average hazard rate would decrease the length of the
match to 13.3 months, whereas a 50% increase would decrease the length of
the match to 11.1 months. A 25% decrease in the average hazard rate would
increase the length of the match to 22 months.
Four sets of factors were examined as possible predictors of relation-
ship duration. These included the baseline characteristics of the youth, the
baseline characteristics of the adult, the characteristics of the match, such as
whether the pair was matched primarily because of similar interests or race,
and the quality of the relationship. We examined how the length of the match
was related to the latter two characteristics and whether the influences of
the other factors changed when these dimensions were taken into account.
Matches with adolescents who were referred for psychological or ed-
ucational programs, or had sustained emotional, sexual, or physical abuse,
were more likely to break up. Additionally, matches involving 13–16 year
olds were 65% more likely to break up in each period than matches with
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
212 Grossman and Rhodes
10–12 year olds. Using the average hazard rate, this would imply that if the
match of a younger adolescent lasted for two years, then the match of a
similar, but older, adolescent would last for a year and a quarter.
Matches involving higher income volunteers lasted longer than those
involving lower income volunteers. Volunteers’ age appeared to interact
with marital status in its effects on match duration. Relative to matches
with 18- to 25-year-old volunteers, unmarried volunteers aged 26–30 were
65% less likely to terminate each month, but married volunteers aged 26–
30 years were 86% (exp[1.05 .43]) more likely to terminate each month.
The volunteers’ and adolescents’ age did not interact with each other in their
prediction of relationship duration.
Next, the effects of the characteristics of the match on duration were
examined, including the role of gender, race, and assignment considerations.
BBBS makes no cross-gender matches and so the effects of the adults’ gender
could not be separated from that of the youth. Nonetheless, female matches
were marginally more likely to terminate than those of males (p <.08).
Additionally, although same-race minority matches terminated marginally
more often than same-race white matches (p = .08), this finding did not hold
with respect to minority dyads in which race was an explicit matching criteria.
Similarly, although cross-race minority matches terminated more often than
same-race white ( p <.05), this finding did not hold with respect to dyads
in which the interests of the youth and volunteer were a primary matching
criteria (see Table III).
Table III. Hazard Rate Analysis of Length of Match
Variable Coefficient Risk ratio p
Baseline values of
Volunteer is 26–30 .43 .65 .08
Volunteer is 31 or older .18 .84 .44
Youth is 13–16 .50 1.65 .001
Volunteer is 26–30 and married 1.05 2.87 .01
Female .36 1.40 .08
Same-race minority match .42 1.53 .09
Cross-race match .40 1.49 .05
Reason for match—race of mentor .50 .61 .24
Reason for match—interest of mentor .33 .72 .25
Referred as a school underachiever .35 1.42 .05
Referred for being overly dependent on adults .67 1.97 .002
Referred after intake for psychological testing 2.63 13.94 .0001
Referred after intake to an educational program .81 2.25 .04
Volunteer’s household income ($000s) .23 .79 .02
Number of moves 2 years prior to baseline .19 1.21 .03
Youth had experienced abuse .42 1.53 .03
(emotional, sexual, or physical)
Note. The sample consists of 376 observations, 229 are censored. 2(Log Likelihood) is 1146
without the covariates and 1076 with them. The global null hypothesis is rejected at p = .0001.
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships 213
Finally, we examined the potential mediating role of relationship qual-
ity (as measured by “youth-centered” and “disappointment” domains) on
the influence of the factors cited above. If all the factors became insignifi-
cant once the quality of the relationship was held constant, then we could
conclude that the quality of the relationship fully mediated the influence
of the factors on the length of the match. If some of the factors remained
significant but their coefficients changed, then we could conclude that they
exerted some independence but are partially mediated through the quality of
the relationship. The relationship scales significantly increased the explana-
tory power of the model (model chi-square 69.6 vs. 109.30) and attenuated
the negative effects of being a married volunteer 26–30 years old and being
of lower income. All of the other factors remained significant, even after
taking into account the influence of relationship quality.
DISCUSSION
The first goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that the effects of
mentoring relationships grow stronger over time, and that relatively short
matches can lead to negative outcomes. In support of this prediction we
found that youth who were in relationships that lasted a year or longer re-
ported improvements in academic, psychosocial, and behavioral outcomes;
and progressively fewer effects emerged among youth who were in rela-
tionships that terminated between 6 months and 1 year or between 3 and
6 months. Additionally, youth who were in relationships that terminated
within 3 months reported drops in self-worth and perceived scholastic com-
petence. When potential self-selection biases were taken into account, the
basic pattern of effects remained. Specifically, youth in relationships that
lasted for a year or more reported the largest number of improvements,
with fewer effects emerging among youth in relationships that lasted from
6 to 12 months. Those in relationships that terminated within 6 months re-
ported decrements in several indicators of functioning, including significant
increases in alcohol use.
Taken together, this pattern of findings underscores the importance of
considering relationship duration in determining the effects of mentoring
programs. Consistent with previous research regarding the complexities of
mentoring relationships (Rhodes et al., 1999), most of the positive effects
emerged in relationships that persisted for a year or longer. This lag may
help to explain the relatively modest effects that have been reported in
mentoring program evaluations that occur before matches have been meet-
ing for at least a year (see Abbott, Meredith, Self-Kelly, & Davis, 1997;
Freedman, 1993). Modest effects sizes may also be an artifact of evaluation
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
214 Grossman and Rhodes
designs that combinerelationships of varying duration intoa single treatment
group.
The findings regarding early terminations are consistent with previ-
ous work which has demonstrated the particular vulnerabilities of youth
to relationship disruption (Downey et al., 1998). Still, it is unclear whether
these negative effects stemmed from youth’s feelings of rejection and disap-
pointment or from other processes or contextual influences. Future studies
should include measures of adolescents’ sensitivitytorejection (e.g., Downey
et al., 1998), their attributions of regarding their mentors’ intent (e.g., Dodge,
1980), and other potential mediators of this link between early termination
and poor outcomes.
Of course, it remains possible that relationship duration is simply a
proxy for poorer underlying adjustment in youth. Specifically, the observed
negative effects of early terminations may reflect unmeasured factors such
as poor social skills or underlying psychopathology. It should be noted,
however, that the basic pattern of findings held even after controlling for
potential self-selection biases. Moreover, there were no baseline differences
between the treatment group and the controls on any measures, including
indices of psychosocial adjustment.
Proportional hazard rate analyses revealed several youth, volunteer,
and dyadic characteristics that were associated with higher termination rates.
In particular, older adolescents tended to have shorter relationships than
younger adolescents. In light of developmental changes that occur through-
out adolescence, this is not particularly surprising. For example, older ado-
lescents’ desires for autonomy and independence from adults may result
in less compliance and emotional accessibility. Similarly, peer and roman-
tic relationships may compete increasingly for adolescents’ attention and
commitment.
Beyond age, adolescents who had sustained emotional, sexual, or physi-
cal abuse were also more likely to have shorter relationships. The challenges
associated with working with maltreated adolescents are likely to be sub-
stantial and, at least in the early stages of the relationships, accompanied by
fewer rewards. Indeed, maltreated youth frequently manifest highly prob-
lematic attachment relationships with their parents and other adults (e.g.,
Carlson, Cicchetti, Barnett, & Braunwald, 1989) and may find it relatively
difficult to establish close, supportive relationship with mentors. Unfortu-
nately, such youth are most likely to harbor expectations of rejection and
to experience negative consequence following early terminations (Downey,
Khouri, & Feldman, 1997). Given the potential of supportive relationships
for helping adolescents to transcend severe childhood rejection (Egeland
et al., 1988; Rhodes et al., in press), caseworkers should work closely with
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships 215
such dyads to move them beyond the initial, challenging stages of the rela-
tionship. Along similar lines, the mentor relationships of adolescents who
had been referred for psychological treatment or educational remediation
were less likely to remain intact. Again, such youth may present challenges
that overwhelm the mentors’ capacity or willingness to help.
Several factors associated with the mentors’ characteristics were also
predictive of relationship duration. For example, volunteers with higher in-
comes tended to be in matches that lasted longer than lower income vol-
unteers. Although the positive impact of income on initial levels of vol-
untary participation has been confirmed in many previous studies (Wilson
& Musick, 1997), no other studies have identified this variable as a predictor
of relationship duration. Nonetheless, mentors with higher incomes probably
have greater flexibility in their work schedules and can more readily afford
amenities, such as child care and personal transportation, that increase the
convenience of sustained contact (Miller, Powell, & Seltzer, 1990).
Interestingly, married volunteers aged 26–30 were at greatest risk for
early termination. Although not specifically measured, this cohort may be
coping with the competing demands of their small children and have neither
the time nor flexibility to sustain contact with potentially troubled youth.
As a corollary, unmarried adults in their late 20s may have approached the
volunteering activity as an opportunity to meet people, enrich their lives, and
contribute to the community, all of which have been identified as motivations
associated with volunteer relationship longevity (Omoto & Snyder, 1995;
Penner & Finkelstein, 1998). It should be noted that the risks associated
with being married and 26–30 years old were attenuated when relationship
quality was taken into account. In other words, if volunteers were able to
form good relationships with their youth, their marital status had little effect
on the ultimate length of the match. This highlights the need for more careful
screening and supervision of volunteers.
Several dyadic factors were related to somewhat higher termination
rates, including gender (matches with females) and race (matches with same-
and cross-race minorities), but these effects were only marginally significant
and did not remain when specifications regarding the mentors’ race or inter-
ests were considered in the analyses. Still, these trends are worth noting as
they may provide insights into factors that may precipitate termination. Be-
ing female and/or of minority status tends to be associated with higher levels
of stress (Reid, 1988), which may increase the likelihood of early termination
in the relationship (Wilson & Musick, 1997). It appears, however, that this
risk can be overcome through the exercise of greater matching precision.
The strengths and limitations of the research deserve comment. Our
collection of data from a large, national sample of adolescents in naturalistic
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
216 Grossman and Rhodes
settings, over time (1.5 years) confers confidence in the precision and gen-
eralizability of the findings. Nonetheless, the mentor relationships were all
situated within the context of a single youth mentoring program and, as
such, the pattern of findings may not apply as well to other, short-term or
less formal mentoring interventions. For example, some mentoring programs
may coincide with school calendars and, as such, have predetermined rela-
tionship durations of 9 months or shorter. Since students may enter such
interventions with different expectations, they may be less negatively af-
fected by terminations. Ideally, this study should be replicated with other
samples of adolescents and volunteers in other types of mentoring interven-
tions. It is also worth noting that the assessments were based solely on the
adolescents’ perceptions. Participants in this study may have been limited
in their ability to engage in assessments of their relationships and inhibited
in their willingness to report personal problems or relationship difficulties.
Future evaluations should move beyond adolescent self-reports to include
data from school records, teachers, and case managers.
Despite these limitations, this research has both basic and applied im-
plications. The findings shed light onto adolescents’ relationships with non-
parental adults and address fundamental issues regarding helping behavior.
The pattern of effects should stimulate additional research on adolescents’
attributions and attachment relationships, including variations in rejection
sensitivity and the underlying processes by which mentors effect positive
change. Additional research is also needed regardingthe factors that mediate
sustained mentoring, including the dispositional attributes and motivations
of volunteers in long-term relationships.
These findings also have implications for the refinement of mentoring
interventions. By all accounts, the number of mentor volunteer programs
will only increase in the years ahead and it is very likely that this expansion
will include poorly funded efforts that are neither as intensive nor lasting
as Big Brothers Big Sisters (Sipe, 1996). Freedman (1993) has referred to
this enthusiasm for the rapid expansion of mentoring programs as “fervor
without infrastructure, a view that amounts to the belief in simple solutions
to complex problems. He warns that
Fervor without infrastructure is dangerous at the program level because it leads
to disappointed mentors and youth. It is dangerous at the policy level because it
plays into the unfortunate tendency to lunge at new and glossy strategies, glorify
them over the short term, and discard them as they tarnish. More disturbing is the
way that fervor without infrastructure feeds the recurring appetite for voluntaristic
panaceas, idealized in isolation from institutions, and proposed as quick, cheap, and
easy. (p. 93)
Our research has the potential to contribute to a theoretically informed
and practically applicable understanding of mentoring relationships. The
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships 217
findings serve as an acknowledgment of the potential benefits of enduring
mentoring relationships and as a mandate for sufficient program resources
to ensure reasonable levels of screening, training, and postmatch mentor
support.
REFERENCES
Abbott, D. A., Meredith, W. H., Self-Kelly, R., & Davis, M. E. (1997). The influence of a
Big Brothers program on the adjustment of boys in single-parent families. The Journal of
Psychology, 131, 143156.
Armsden, G., & Greenberg, M. T. (1987). Inventory of parent and peer attachment: Individual
differences in their relationship to psychological well-being in adolescence. Journal of
Youth and Adolescence, 16, 427–453.
Bandura, A. (1969). Social learning theory of identification processes. In D. A. Goslin (Ed.),
Handbook of socialization theory and research. Chicago: Rand-McNally.
Belsky, J., & Cassidy, J. (1994). Attachment and close relationships: An individual difference
perspective. Psychological Inquiry, 5, 27–30.
Berndt, T., & Miller, K. (1986). Expectancies, values, and achievement in junior high school.
Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 319–326.
Berry, W. D., & Feldman, S. (1985). Multiple Regression in Practice, Quantitative Applications
in the Social Sciences Series, No. 50, Beverly Hills: Sage.
Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss: Retrospect and prospect. American Journal of
Orthopsychiatry, 52, 664–676.
Carlson, V., Cicchetti, D., Barnett, D., & Braunwald, K. (1989). Finding order in disorganiza-
tion: Lessons from research on maltreated infants’ attachments to their care givers. In
D. Cicchetti & V. Carlson (Eds.), Child maltreatment: Theory and research on the
causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect. New York: Cambridge University
Press.
Cauce, A. M., Mason, C., Gonzales, N., Hiraga, Y., & Liu, G. (1994). Social support during ado-
lescence: Methodological and theoretical considerations. In F. Nestmann & K. Hurrelmann
(Eds.), Social networks and social support in childhood and adolescence. New York: Walter
de Gruyter.
Cox, D. R. (1972). Regression modes and life-tables (with Discussion), Journal of the Royal
Statistical Society, 34, 187–220.
Davidson, W. S., II, Redner, R.,Blakely, C. H., Mitchell, C.M., & Esmhoff, J. G. (1987). Diversion
of juvenile offenders: An experimental comparison. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology, 55, 68–75.
Dodge, K. A. (1980). Social cognition and children’s aggressive behavior. Child Development,
51, 162–170.
Downey, G., & Feldman, S. I. (1996). The implications of rejection sensitivity for intimate
relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 1327–1343.
Downey, G., Khouri, H.,& Feldman, S. (1997). Early interpersonal trauma andadult adjustment:
The mediational role of rejection sensitivity. In D. Cicchette & S. Toth (Eds.), Rochester
Symposium on Developmental Psychopathology: Vol. 8. The effects of trauma on the devel-
opmental process (pp. 85–114). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.
Downey, G., Lebolt, A., Rincon, C., & Freitas, A. L. (1998). Rejection sensitivity and children’s
interpersonal difficulties. Child Development, 69, 1074–1091.
DuBois, D. L., & Neville, H. A. (1997). Youth mentoring: Investigation of relationship charac-
teristics and perceived benefits. Journal of Community Psychology, 25, 227–234.
Egeland, B., Jacobvitz, D., & Sroufe, L. A. (1988). Breaking the cycle of abuse. Child Develop-
ment, 59, 1080–1088.
Flaxman, E., Ascher, C., & Harringon, C. (1988, December). Youth mentoring: Programs and
practices. New York: Columbia University, Teachers College. (Available from the ERIC
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
218 Grossman and Rhodes
Clearinghouse on Urban Education, Institute for Urban Minority Education, Box 40,
Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027)
Freedman, M. (1993). The kindness of strangers: Adult mentors, urban youth, and the new
volunteerism. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Grossman, J. B., & Tierney, J. P. (1998). Does mentoring work? An impact study of the Big
Brothers/Big Sisters program. Evaluation Review, 22, 403–426.
Hamilton, S. F., & Hamilton, M. A. (1990, June). Linking up: Final report on a mentoring
program for youth. New York: Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, Department
of Human Development & Family Studies.
Harter, S. (1986). The self-perception profile for children. Unpublished manual, University of
Denver.
James, L. R., & Singh, B. K. (1978). An introduction to the logic, assumptions, and basic
analytical procedures of two-stage least squares. Psychological Bulletin, 85, 1104–
1122.
Kalbfreisch, J. & Prentice, R. (1980). The Statistical Analysis of Failure time Data. New York:
Wiley.
Klaw, E. L., & Rhodes, J. E. (1995). Mentor relationships and the career development of preg-
nant and parenting African-American teenagers. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19,
551–562.
Langhout, R. D., Osborne, L. & Rhodes, J. E. (1999). Volunteer mentoring with at-risk youth:
Toward a typology of relationships. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Lerner, R. M., & Galambos, N. L. (1998). Adolescent development: Challenges and opportu-
nities for research, programs, and policies. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 413–446.
LoSciuto, L., Rajala, A. K., Townsend, T. N., & Taylor, A. S. (1996). An outcome evaluation
of Across Ages: An intergenerational mentoring approach to drug prevention. Journal of
Adolescent Research, 11, 116–129.
Main, M., Kaplan, K., & Cassidy, J. (1985). Security in infancy, childhood, and adulthood: A
move to the level of representation. In I. Bretherton & E. Waters (Eds.), Growing points
of attachment theory and research (pp. 66–104). Monographs of the Society for Research
in Child Development, 50(1–2, Serial No. 209).
McLearn, K. T., Colasanto, D., & Schoen, C. (1998, June). Mentoring makes a difference: Find-
ings from The commonwealth Fund 1998 Survey of Adults Mentoring Young People. Paper
presented at the State and Future of Mentoring Symposium, Washington, DC.
Miller, L. E., Powell, G. N., & Seltzer, J. (1990). Determinants of turnover among volunteers.
Human Relations, 43, 901–917.
Olds, D., Kitzman, H., Cole, R., & Robinson, J. (1997). Theoretical formulations of a program of
home visitation for pregnant women and parents of young children. Journal of Community
Psychology, 25, 9–26.
Omoto, A.M., & Snyder,M. (1995). Sustained helping withoutobligation: Motivation, longevity
of service, and perceived attitude change among AIDS volunteers. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 68, 671–686.
Penner, L. A., & Finkelstein, M. A. (1998). Dispositional and structural determinants of vol-
unteerism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 525–537.
Reid, P. T. (1988). Racism and sexism: Comparisons and conflicts. In P. A. Katz & D. A.
Taylor (Eds.), Eliminating racism (pp. 203–221). New York: Plenum.
Rhodes, J. E., Grossman, J. B., & Resch, N. L. (2000). Agents of change: Pathways through which
mentoring relationships influence adolescents academic adjustment. Child Development,
71, 1662–1671.
Rhodes, J. E., Haight, W. L., & Briggs, E. C. (1999). The influence of mentoring on the peer
relationships of foster youth in relative and non-relative care. Journal of Research on
Adolescence, 2, 185–202.
Sipe, C. L. (1996). Mentoring: A synthesis of P/PV’s Research: 1988–1995. Philadelphia, PA:
Public/Private Ventures.
Sroufe, A. L. (1995). Contribution of attachment theory to developmental psychopathology. In
E. A. Carlson & A. L. Sroufe (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology: Vol. 1. Theory and
methods. New York: Plenum.
P1: GYK/GVH
American Journal of Community Psychology [ajcp] PP402-368416 March 12, 2002 8:16 Style file version Nov. 19th, 1999
Predictors and Effects of Duration in Youth Mentoring Relationships 219
Styles, M. B., & Morrow, K. V. (1992, June). Understanding how youth and elders form relation-
ships: A study of four Linking Lifetimes programs (Research report). Philadelphia, PA:
Public/Private Ventures.
Taylor, R. L. (1989). Black youth, role models and the social construction of identity. In
R. L. Jones (Ed.), Black adolescents. Berkeley, CA: Cobb & Henry.
Walker, G., & Freeman, M. (1996). Social change one on one: The new mentoring movement.
The American Prospect, 27, 75–81.
Wallerstein, J. S. (1988). Children of divorce: Stress and developmental tasks. In N. Garmezy &
M. Rutter (Eds.), Center for advanced study in the behavioral sciences. Inc.: Stress, coping
and development in children (pp. 265–302). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University
Press.
Wilson, J., & Musick, M. (1997). Who cares? Toward an integrated theory of volunteer work.
American Sociological Review, 62, 694–713.
... The mentor may provide an opportunity for students to feel listened to, supported, and valued (Grossman & Rhodes, 2002). Through prolonged engagement, the student can develop trust and respect for their mentor and in turn, they may feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and personal aspects of their life with their mentor. ...
... In this context, in order to alter disengaged students' long-term 5136 trajectories, they may require multi-component programmes of longer durations and 5137 intensities (cf. Grossman & Rhodes, 2002). 5138 ...
... Each student participant has been allocated a pseudonym; any quotes presented with a name are from interviews with students. When quotes are used from the teachers, they are explicitly labelled as teachers.A mentor can listen, empathise, understand, and support the student, nurturing their overall personal development(Grossman & Rhodes, 2002;Reid, 2002). Through prolonged engagement, the student can develop trust and respect for their mentor, and the mentor can help the student recognise their strengths, assets, interests, and passion. ...
... The creation of close, long-lasting relationships between mentors and youngsters is crucial to promoting positive developmental change (Rhodes and Dubois, 2008). For a bond to arise between mentors and their assigned youths, they would need to spend time together regularly and over some significant period for meaningful benefits to be observed (DuBois et al. 2011;DuBois and Silverthorn 2005;Grossman, Chan, Schwartz and Rhodes 2011;Grossman and Rhodes 2002;Spencer 2007). When the mentee considers the relationship to be gratifying and trustworthy, mentoring effects are more positive (Schenk et al. 2019). ...
... Mentees who reported a higher-quality relationship also reported a stronger sense of belonging and self-efficacy. A better relationship also facilitates identity development (Schenk et al. 2019 Grossman and Rhodes (2002) found that youth in a mentoring relationship, lasting one year or longer, also reported higher scores on academic competence and social acceptance, as well as a lower frequency of negative behaviours, including skipping school and substance use. In contrast, youth involved in mentoring relationships that lasted less than three months saw decreases in self-esteem and perceived academic ability (Grossman and Rhodes, 2002). ...
... A better relationship also facilitates identity development (Schenk et al. 2019 Grossman and Rhodes (2002) found that youth in a mentoring relationship, lasting one year or longer, also reported higher scores on academic competence and social acceptance, as well as a lower frequency of negative behaviours, including skipping school and substance use. In contrast, youth involved in mentoring relationships that lasted less than three months saw decreases in self-esteem and perceived academic ability (Grossman and Rhodes, 2002). Better academic competence ( Youths who maintained relationships with their mentor after a year showed improvements in academics while those that had their relationship end early experienced negative academic outcomes (Grossman et al. 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study forms part of an EU-funded project led by The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST)-Malta's leading VET institute. Overall, the project seeks to understand the challenges and barriers students in Malta face throughout their learning journey. For this purpose, one of the interventions, applied to MCAST via this project, was that of implementing a mentoring programme for students studying at MCAST up until MQF Level 3. This paper will focus on how the programme was perceived by mentors and mentees, as well as examine the effectiveness it has had as an intervention to reduce possible challenges and barriers students face.
... Similarly, youth who initially present with a greater number of behavioral problems (e.g., school misconduct), and youth who have substantial deficits in their relationships with parents, teachers, and peers, report lower-quality mentoring relationships (Raposa et al., 2016;Schwartz et al., 2011). These findings are concerning given evidence that youth-perceived mentoring relationship quality and match duration are key indicators of mentoring program effectiveness (DuBois & Rhodes, 2006;Grossman & Rhodes, 2002;Rhodes et al., 2017). Thus, it is critical to identify youth factors that influence mentoring relationship quality and impact. ...
... As a result, youth with certain risk factors are often matched non-randomly with certain kinds of mentors-for example, mentors who share a particular demographic characteristic or with greater mentoring experience. These, and other, mentor characteristics have in turn been shown to predict mentoring relationship quality and duration (Grossman & Rhodes, 2002;Raposa et al., 2016). As such, existing studies are likely illustrating the impact of variable combinations of youth and mentor characteristics on mentoring outcomes, rather than isolating the influence of specific youth risk factors. ...
... First, we did not test associations between emotion regulation and the impact of youth mentoring on diverse youth outcomes, such as youth depression or school functioning. Instead, we explored outcomes of mentoring relationship quality and completion, given that these factors have been identified as key predictors of mentoring intervention impact (Grossman & Rhodes, 2002). Moreover, we could only assess relationship quality outcomes for those pairs that lasted the full duration of the program. ...
Article
Youth mentoring programs have grown in popularity, both within the United States (U.S.) and abroad, as an intervention to support youth with common behavioral and emotional difficulties. However, it is unclear whether certain dimensions of youth risk may diminish the positive impact of formalized mentoring relationships. The current study therefore examined whether youth emotion regulation, a transdiagnostic risk factor for both externalizing and internalizing behavioral difficulties, predicted mentoring relationship quality and the likelihood of early match closure. Participants included 1,298 randomized mentor-youth dyads from two nationwide mentoring programs, one with chapters across the U.S. (youth: 56% female; 37% White), and another with chapters across Mexico (youth: 49% female; 100% non-Indigenous). At baseline, youth completed the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire for Children and Adolescents (ERQ-CA). At program completion, youth and mentors completed measures of mentoring relationship quality. Multigroup structural equation models of youth outcomes revealed that greater youth use of cognitive reappraisal predicted better mentoring relationship quality in both countries when co-varying for sex, and that this relationship was stronger for mentor-youth pairs in the U.S. compared to those in Mexico. These findings have important implications for understanding the ways in which youth characteristics might shape the quality and impact of mentoring relationships across different cultural settings.
... Further, PYD research further demonstrates the value of retention. Specifically, Grossman and Rhodes' (2002) rigorous longitudinal study on mentoring in the Big Brother Big Sister Association demonstrate how outcomes are progressively greater as relationships persist for longer periods of time (specifically, a year or longer). In contrast, youth in relationships <3 months showed declines in self-esteem and other PYD outcomes as compared to the control group. ...
... In contrast, youth in relationships <3 months showed declines in self-esteem and other PYD outcomes as compared to the control group. Interesting youth in the study coming from socially vulnerable backgrounds were more likely to have pairs discontinue, demonstrating challenges again for serving underserved populations (Grossman and Rhodes, 2002). Others have confirmed these findings suggesting longer-term mentoring relationships result in the better outcomes, as well as identified issues with earlier termination among youth from diverse backgrounds (DuBois and Rhodes, 2006;Grossman et al., 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Research finds engagement in sport-based positive youth development (PYD) programs contribute to key outcomes related to physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and mental health. Consistent, long-term participation ensures youth, especially those who are socially vulnerable, reap the most benefits. Even when common barriers are removed, retention remains a challenge. Using mixed methods, this study explored factors related to long-term retention among youth from socially vulnerable circumstances attending one sport-based PYD program. Factors related to youth participation in the previous year's program, as well as general youth demographics, were examined using difference tests and binomial logistic regression to explore retention among 124 of the 384 youth who returned to the program the following year. Results of the regression analyses showed the full model (with all predictors included), vs. an intercept-only model, was statistically significant, χ2 (11, N = 235) = 23.38, p = 0.02. The model correctly classified 88.2% of the non-returners and 28.0% of the returners for an overall correct classification rate of 67.2%. Better fitness levels, higher perceived social responsibility (an outcome targeted in the program), and some demographic variables (such as lower poverty rates and younger age) were associated with a greater probability of returning, although effect sizes were small. Additionally, interviews were conducted with 18 parent/caregivers of returning youth and 18 match comparison parent/caregivers of non-returning youth. Qualitative analyses revealed few differences in previous year's program experiences between returners and non-returners, as well as similarities in reported benefits from involvement. Both sets of parent/caregivers cited positive experiences overall, and particular benefits related to meeting new people and learning new sports. Parents/caregivers of non-returners, however, noted the value of physical literacy components of the program more so than their counterparts. Social interactions, both positive and negative, seem to have particular relevance for retention. Findings overall, however, demonstrate challenges with predicting retention and fostering long-term engagement among youth from socially vulnerable circumstances in programming.
... Generally speaking, longer-term relationships are found to have more benefits for mentees than shorter-term relationships (Grossman & Rhodes, 2002;Uyterlinde et al., 2009). Eby et al. (2013) found that mentees in longer relationships perceived greater psychosocial support and relationship quality though relationship duration was less strongly associated with instrumental support. ...
... Eby et al. (2013) found that mentees in longer relationships perceived greater psychosocial support and relationship quality though relationship duration was less strongly associated with instrumental support. According to Grossman and Rhodes (2002), the impact of mentoring increases as the relationship develops. In their research on the effects of duration in youth mentoring relationships, they found that youth who were in relationships that lasted a year or longer reported significant improvements in academic, psychosocial, and behavioral outcomes. ...
Book
Full-text available
Social mentoring for adult newcomers is a new and emerging type of mentoring that has particularly gained in popularity in the wake of the European ‘refugee crisis.’ They are known by a multitude of names including ‘buddy programs’, ‘parrainage’, ‘mentoring’, ‘patenschaften.’… A meta-analysis of mentoring programs showed that mentoring programs are generally effective but the effects are limited in size (Eby et al., 2007; Dekker et al., 2013). In some instances, negative effects may even occur (see e.g. Rhodes, 2002). In this respect it is argued that the design of the program or how one develops mentoring in practice will, to a large extent, determine its effects (Escudero, 2018). However as a new and barely studied field, evidence about effective practices of social mentoring for newcomers is lacking or anecdotal. These guidelines were developed to gain a better understanding of effective practices in social mentoring for newcomers in order to ensure that newcomers can benefit from effective mentoring. The guidelines start from the state of the art related to the different steps in the mentoring process (recruiting, selection, matching, mentoring relationship, closure, training & follow up) and add experiences and concrete examples from 10 good practices in Belgium.
... However concern is expressed about the fact that over half of the relationships dissolved after a few months and in cases where relationships lasted for less than 3 months there were significant declines in self worth. It is argued that there is a possibility that these young people experience a sense of failure and rejection that may well confirm previous life experiences (Grossman and Rhodes 2002). ...
Thesis
p>This research uses a qualitative methodology based on ethnographic studies in three field centres to explore the impact of the Connexions strategy on the lives of young people. Utilising the theoretical concepts of identity and self-esteem it grounds this exploration in an understanding of young people themselves, their hopes and concerns, the aspects of their lives that are important to them, their sources of self esteem and their means of support when they experience difficulties. The Connexions strategy is based on an assumption that young people will be supported in a holistic manner through the relationship they form with their Connexions Personal Adviser who, where necessary, will cooperate with other agencies in order to meet all the young person’s needs. However, I argue that Connexions’ principle target, which relates to inclusion in education, employment or training, imposes a narrow agenda on practitioners which has the potential to undermine Connexions’ holistic credentials. I maintain that a genuinely holistic approach, in addition to responding to needs, requires an understanding of young people’s perspectives on their lives, a recognition of their priorities, an acknowledgement of their existing social networks and an appreciation of the aspects of life that are important to them and which contribute to feelings of self-esteem. Findings indicate that young people value this approach in their relationships with practitioners and that these relationships are more effectively established in environments where there are a range of practitioners affording an element of choice to the young person concerned. The research concludes that it is the practice of individual practitioners rather than government policy that determines a holistic approach and that this is more easily achieved in situations where outcomes are not monitored by specific targets.</p
... A theoretical model of youth mentoring Rhodes (2005) proposed a theoretical model of youth mentoring that suggests the mentoring relationship, founded on such relationship principles as mutuality, trust, and empathy, fosters positive youth outcomes via processes that engender youth's social-emotional, cognitive, and identity development. Research has identified that both the quality and length of a mentoring relationship are associated with more positive youth outcomes across these areas of development (DuBois et al., 2002;Grossman et al., 2012;Grossman & Rhodes, 2002). Moreover, Rhodes (2005) has highlighted that several moderators (i.e., interpersonal history of youth; social competencies of youth; mentoring relationship duration; family, school, and community context of youth) may impact the strength and quality of the mentoring relationship and the processes by which the mentoring relationship affects youth development. ...
Article
A significant body of research has demonstrated that mentoring relationships support positive youth development. The quality of the mentoring relationship has been identified as a predictor of positive youth outcomes. However, limited research has examined how engagement in a mentoring program may be related to youth depressive symptoms specifically. The current study utilized a sample of 2003 youth participating in mentoring programs across the country (Mage = 12.32, SD = 1.42, 55.1% female) from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds (39.1% Black, 23.6% White, 22.1% Hispanic, 3.3% Native American or Alaskan Native, .4% Asian or Pacific Islander, 1.8% other, and 9.7% Multi-Ethnic) to investigate associations between youth depressive symptoms and mentoring relationship quality. Results revealed that: (1) mean depressive symptoms decreased after participation in a mentoring program; (2) several, but not all, relationship quality indicators predicted change in depressive symptoms; (3) baseline levels of depressive symptoms negatively predicted indicators of relationship quality; and (4) associations between several relationship quality indicators and follow-up depressive symptoms differed by baseline levels of depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the potential benefits of mentoring programs to youth and the need to provide mentors with support around building relationships with youth, especially those experiencing depressive symptoms.
Article
Immigrant youth in the United States face historical and systemic challenges in American schools. Out-of-school mentoring programs, such as the 4-H Teenagers as Teachers model, have a positive impact on diverse youth outcomes. This qualitative study presents practices associated with engaging immigrant youth as teachers in urban 4-H youth development programs. Purposeful sampling identified 11 4-H professionals from three regions: West, Midwest, and Northeast. Five professionals are immigrants, and six are of White European descent. Building on the essential elements of teenagers as teachers programs and immigrant mentoring research, 4-H professionals indicated that cultural competence, including empathy and commitment to immigrant teens, is essential. They regard English language acquisition, acculturation, and support of youth and family well-being as critical components of culturally relevant mentoring. Study findings translate into recommendations for positive immigrant youth-adult mentorships practices that youth development program educators are encouraged to operationalize based on local interests, needs, and resources.
Article
Mentoring is considered an evidence-based practice for violence prevention. This study presents a partial replication of the Take Charge! program implemented in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS). One hundred and eighty-eight early adolescents (M age = 12.87; 61.17% male) who were treated for peer-related assault injury in two urban mid-Atlantic emergency departments were randomly assigned to receive a mentor from two BBBS affiliates. Mentors and organization staff were trained in the Take Charge! violence prevention curriculum, which had previously shown evidence of efficacy. Intent-to-treat analyses showed statistically significant improvements in conflict avoidance self-efficacy for the intervention group at 9 months and reductions in fighting at 21 months, but an increase in parental report of aggression at 9 months. Complier average causal effect models revealed evidence of an additional effect for reduced problem behavior at 21 months for intervention adolescents who received a mentor. No effects were found for youth-reported aggression, retaliatory attitudes, deviance acceptance, or commitment to learning. Sensitivity analyses suggested increased aggressive behavior for adolescents in the intervention group who did not receive a mentor (i.e., non-compliers). These findings extend the evidence-base for Take Charge! as a violence prevention curriculum for youth already engaged in violence to "real-world" implementation settings. However, they also suggest that challenges associated with providing youth with mentors can be consequential and that additional supports may be needed for these youth/parents. Clinical trials number: clinicaltrials.gov NCT01770873.
Article
Full-text available
The results of two studies are reported. Study I involved the development of the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA), a self-report instrument for use with adolescents. Subject were 179 college students aged 16-20 years. Item content of the instrument was suggested by attachment theory's formulations concerning the nature of feelings toward attachment figures. In Study II, the convergent validity of the IPPA was examined. Also, a hierarchial regression model was employed to investigate the association between quality of attachment and self-esteem, life-satisfaction, and affective status. Respondents were 86 adolescents from the Study I sample. As hypothesized, perceived quality of both parent and peer attachments was significantly related to psychological well-being. Results of the development of a theoretically focused, exploratory classification scheme indicated that adolescents classified as highly securely attached reported greater satisfaction with themselves, a higher likelihood of seeking social support, and less symptomatic response to stressful life events.
Article
Many theorists have suggested that students' motivation to achieve in school depends on their expectancies for success and the value they attach to success. There are few data, however, on the relation between expectancies and values or their relative contribution to achievement. To examine these issues, we asked 153 seventh graders to complete multiple measures of academic expectancies and values. We used students' report card grades and academic track placements in English and math as indicators of their achievement. Covariance structure analyses showed that students' expectancies were more strongly related to their achievement than were their values. Nevertheless, both expectancies and values made significant, independent contributions to achievement. In addition, the constructs for expectancies and values were positively correlated. Boys and girls had similar expectancies, but boys appeared to value academic success less than did girls.
Article
Our random assignment evaluation found that this type of mentoring had a significant positive effect on youths ages 10 to 16. Over the 18-month follow-up period, youths participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters Programs were significantly less likely to have started using illegal drugs or alcohol, hit someone, or skipped school. They were also more confident about their school performance and got along better with their families. Mentors were carefully screened, trained, and matched with a youth whom they met, on average, three or four times a month for approximately a year. The program also provides careful professional supervision of these matches.
Article
The influence of a mentoring program (Big Brothers-Big Sisters) on the peer relationships of foster youth in relative and nonrelative care was examined. Youth were randomly assigned to either the treatment or control condition, and changes in their peer relationships were assessed after 18 months. Foster parents were more likely than nonfoster parents to report that their child showed improved social skills, as well as greater comfort and trust interacting with others, as a result of the intervention. In addition, whereas the peer relationships of all nonfoster youth (N = 90) remained stable, treatment foster youth (N = 90) reported improvements in prosocial and self-esteem enhancing support, and control foster youth showed decrements over time. When the foster youth were differentiated further on the basis of their placement, a pattern of findings emerged in which treatment youth in relative foster care reported slight improvements in prosocial support, whereas treatment youth in nonrelative foster care reported slight declines. All foster youth in the control group reported decrements in peer support over time, with nonrelative foster youth reporting the sharpest declines. Implications for research and intervention are discussed.
Article
Our random assignment evaluation found that this type of mentonng had a significant positive effect on youths ages 10 to 16. Over the 18-month follow-up pertod, youths participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters Programs were significantly less likely to have started using illegal drugs or alcohol, hit someone, or skipped school. They were also more confident about their school performance and got along better with their families. Mentors were carefully screened, trained, and matched with a youth whom they met, on average, three or four times a month for approximately a year The program also provtdes careful professional supervision of these matches.
Article
We construct an integrated theory of formal and informal volunteer work based on the premises that volunteer work is (1) productive work that requires human capital, (2) collective behavior that requires social capital, and (3) ethically guided work that requires cultural capital. Using education, income, and functional health to measure human capital, number of children in the household and informal social interaction to measure social capital, and religiosity to measure cultural capital, we estimate a model in which formal volunteering and informal helping are reciprocally related but connected in different ways to different forms of capital. Using two-wave data from the Americans' Changing Lives panel study, we find that formal volunteering is positively related to human capital, number of children in the household, informal social interaction, and religiosity. Informal helping, such as helping a neighbor, is primarily determined by gender, age, and health. Estimation of reciprocal effects reveals that formal volunteering has a positive effect on helping, but helping does not affect formal volunteering.