Review of the Literature
While the mentor/mentee relationship has been associated with traditional teacher education apprentice models (Ambrosetti & Dekkers, 2010; Feiman-Nemser,1996; Little, 1990), it is increasingly reported as integral for experiential education (EE) and leisure instructor training programs (Propst & Koesler, 1998). Moreover, prominent experiential education and leisure programs have asserted the primacy of mentoring as part of their field instructor programs (Divine, 2016; Outward Bound, 2006). The literature, practitioners, and students seem to agree that the mentor/mentee relationship is a critical component of effective experiential education and leisure programming (Cain, 1989; Galloway, 2002; Shooter, Sibthorp, & Paisley, 2009), yet there remains no detailed investigation into the operational definition of mentoring in these contexts and the desirable characteristics of mentoring programs as identified by practitioners to foster the interpersonal relationships essential to the learning of implicit knowledge in these contexts.
Closer examination of the mentor/mentee relationship in experiential education and leisure contexts reveals troubling issues. An inherent problem in the fields of experiential education and leisure is that while the mentor/mentee relationship is both a necessity and an proffered methodology, there is little conceptualization of the terms and definitions comprising the mentor/mentee relationship. For example, if authors insert the words mentor, apprentice, or protégé into an article’s conclusion or recommendation section and do nothing to conceptualize that term, they assume the requisite experience of the reader to do that for themselves. However, if the reader does not have the requisite experiences to conceptualize what is meant by these terms, there is no structure by which to guide them to an appropriate use of this concept within the context of the authors’ recommendations. As an example, Morrison-Shetler and Heinrich (1999) state “Given the interdisciplinary nature of experiential teaching and the notion of ‘group as mentor,’ the idea of an interdisciplinary faculty group that mentors members around experiential teaching approaches makes sense” (p. 5). While the authors reference formal mentor/mentee programs, they do not define or conceptualize the components of a mentor/mentee relationship.
The purpose of this study is to determine the amount as well as thematic relation and focus of literature on the topic of the mentor/mentee relationship within the fields of EE and leisure. Second, this study sought to provide a potential structure for conceptualization of the terms encapsulating the mentor/mentee relationship. We consider the present review to be timely, as recent advances in EE and leisure, coupled with anecdotal evidence, provide contemporary practitioners and researchers with increasingly clearer insight into the mechanisms by which field instructors and experiential educators exhibit fundamental skills and implicit knowledge, such as that required for decision-making and risk management, leading to effective functioning in a variety of situations. The gains derived via specific types of the mentor/mentee relationship may be of importance for field instructors and experiential educators as effective behavior is guided by both intrapersonal and interpersonal factors related to the mentor/mentee relationship.
A systematic review of papers published prior to March 2017 was undertaken using experiential education and leisure peer-reviewed journals currently in publication (n=12; see Table 1). Each journal was searched using three search terms in four search fields (see Table 1). Database searches, screening, and eligibility of records were performed independently by two authors at two different institutions. Figure 1 shows the identification, screening, and selection of the final full text articles included the qualitative analysis, resulting in a full review of 19 papers and final inclusion of 19 papers.
After the initial database search and the removal of duplicates, records that were screened (n = 30) contained at least one of the three search terms (mentor*, apprentice*, or protégé*) in at least one of the search fields (All, Keywords, Abstract, Title). At this point, records were excluded (n = 11) because they were book reviews and thus did not meet inclusion criteria. Next, full text articles (n = 19) were assessed for eligibility included in the qualitative synthesis.
Qualitative synthesis will be performed using NVivo software to analyze keywords-in-context to identify thematic convergences among articles.
Although qualitative analysis has not been performed at this time, preliminary results reveal that the majority of papers published where mentor*, apprentice*, or protégé* appear in the Keywords, Abstract, or Title are qualitative in nature (Bachert, 2007; Bell, 1990; Chand & Shukla, 2003; Coakley, 2006; Colvin & Tobler, 2013; Gladwell, Dowd & Benzaquin, 1995; Gray, 2008; Maxson, 1983), with three quantitative studies (Morgan, Sibthorp, & Tsethlikai, 2016; Norton & Watt, 2014; Propst & Koesler, 1998), and three theoretical papers (Coakley, 2006; Karagatzides et al., 2011; Wheal, 2000). Four papers propose mentor program curricula (Gladwell, Dowd & Benzaquin, 1995; Powell & Sable, 2001; Schaumleffel, 2009; Wittmer, 2001). These papers implement diverse methods, such as case studies (Bachert, 2007; Bell, 1990; Chand & Shukla, 2003; Colvin & Tobler, 2013; Gray, 2008; Pelchat & Karp, 2012; Skalko, Lee, & Godlenberg, 1998) and informal interviews (Morrison-Shetlar & Heinrich, 1999), to assess the effectiveness of the mentor/mentee relationship in the context of faculty and peer mentoring programs. Both informal and formal mentoring contexts are examined in the papers, with few papers describing the effectiveness of a formal mentoring program. No standardized assessment measures are implemented in the research, with informal semi-structured interviews being the dominant assessment measure. Overall, there is little homogeneity in the investigation of the effectiveness of mentoring programs in experiential education and leisure contexts.
Limitations of this study were found mainly within the selection criteria themselves. While the selection criteria provided a operationalized definition of the focus of an article, it was found that articles may have included much information on the terms without having included them in any search criteria category. This meant that potentially impactful information on elements of the mentor/mentee relationship that were missing from the results due to the limitations of the search criteria. A second limitation may well have come from the articles themselves. Very few references were made to literature in periods other than the 19th and 20th century, potentially eliminating some beneficial “primary” source material.
Although some articles support the notion that the mentor/mentee relationship is valuable to developing implicit knowledge in EE and leisure contexts (Bachert, 2007; Bell, 1990; Chand & Shukla, 2003, Gladwell, Dowd & Benzaquin, 1995, Maxson, 1983; Morrison-Shetlar & Heinrich, 1999; Morgan, Sibthorp, & Tsethlikai, 2016; Propst & Koesler, 1998; Wittmer, 2001), few papers explicitly conceptualized the defining attributes of the mentor/mentee relationship (Gladwell, Dowd & Benzaquin, 1995; Powell & Sable, 2001; Schaumleffel, 2009; Wittmer, 2001). To further elucidate the conceptualization of the mentor/mentee relationship in EE and leisure contexts, future research directions should include a framework, such as that outlined by Jacobi (1991). Jacobi’s research is particularly relevant to this study because she sought to
alleviate the subjectivity of a [mentoring] models’ measurement by a personalized definition of that subject. Jacobi’s lowest common denominators for a mentor/mentee relationship exemplifies a more holistic concept of the term, and therefore, robust model by which to apply that term. For example, a literature review of medical, higher education, and teacher training programs may determine thematic convergences leading to a conceptual model that optimizes learning in EE and leisure contexts. Without such systematic investigation into the conceptualization of the mentor/mentee relationship, the effective characteristics comprising mentoring programs to optimize learning for additional gains in implicit knowledge will remain a challenge.
Another future research direction might include a timeline of literature to include greater connections to more primary source literature on which future articles may wish to base their literature reviews of the mentor/mentee relationship. Doing so may add a depth of knowledge previously unknown to many intrigued by these terms.
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*Bell, M. (1990). Pathways of emerging practitioners the value of tracing an apprenticeship.
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Cain, K. D. (1989). A Delphi study of the development, evaluation, and documentation of
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*Coakley, J. (2006). The good father: Parental expectations and youth sports. Leisure Studies,
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*Maxson, L. (1983). Mentors. Journal of Experiential Education, 6(1), 7-9.
*Morrison-Shetler, A. & Heinrich, K. T. (1999). Mentoring at the edge: A faculty group fosters
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*Morgan, C., Sibthorp, J., & Tsethlikai, M. (2016). Fostering self-regulation skills in youth:
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Leisure Sciences, 38(2), 161-178. doi:10.1080/01490400.2015.1083496
*Norton, C. L., & Watt, T. T. (2014). Exploring the impact of a wilderness-based positive youth
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*Pelchat, C., & Karp, G. G. (2012). Using critical action research to enhance outdoor adventure
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Leadership, 4, 199-219.
*Powell, L., & Sable, J. (2001). Professional preparation of allied health practitioners and special
educators using a collaborative, transdisciplinary approach. SCHOLE: A Journal of
Leisure Studies & Recreation Education, 16, 33-48.
*Propst, D. B., & Koesler, R. A. (1998). Bandura goes outdoors: Role of self‐efficacy in the
outdoor leadership development process. Leisure Sciences, 20(4), 319-344.
*Schaumleffel, N. A. (2009). Enhanced academic advisement with online learning management
systems. SCHOLE: A Journal of Leisure Studies & Recreation Education, 24, 142-148.
*Skalko, T., Lee, Y., & Godlenberg, R. (1998). Seeking active collaboration through a
comprehensive fieldwork system in therapeutic recreation: A case example. SHCOLE: A
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Shooter, W., Sibthorp, J., & Paisley, K. (2009). Outdoor leadership skills: A program perspective.
Journal of Experiential Education, 32(1), 1-13.
*Wheal, J. R. (2000). The agony or the ecstasy? The academy at the crossroads. Journal of
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*Wittmer, C. R. (2001). Leadership and gender-role congruency: A guide for wilderness and
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*Denotes articles included in systematic review