روابط مشاوره از اوایل نوجوانی از طریق دوران بلوغ نوظهور: تجزیه و تحلیل کیفی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8382||2008||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 72, Issue 2, April 2008, Pages 168–182
This study compared perceptions of mentoring relationships among early adolescents, middle adolescents, and emerging adults. In ten focus groups, 56 middle school, high school, and college students described relational experiences that were analyzed thematically. Differences in the characteristics of the mentors nominated by the youth across the age groups were noted and five broad themes identified. Three themes were similar across the different age groups: (a) the importance of spending time together and engaging in shared activities, (b) trust and fidelity, and (c) role modeling and identification. Two themes were present in the narratives of all three age groups but played out differently in ways that were consistent with developmental issues and needs of that age group: (a) balancing connection and autonomy and (b) empowerment. These data can help guide future research and practice involving youth mentoring relationships across developmental and disciplinary divides.
Mentoring relationships are thought to contribute to the positive development of young people in general (Rhodes, 2002); yet, there has been little consideration of how the mentoring process evolves as youth move through adolescence into early adulthood. Further, research has mostly focused on formal mentoring (Rhodes, 2002), despite evidence that natural mentoring relationships, or those formed with adults youth encounter in their communities, are far more prevalent (Spencer, 2007). The little research on natural mentoring relationships does suggest that adolescents derive a variety of psychosocial benefits from these ties (DuBois & Silverthorn, 2005). However, questions remain about the nature of youth mentoring relationships during the different developmental stages within adolescence. Adolescence is comprised of sub-stages—early, middle, and late adolescence—and has recently been elongated such that these stages coincide with the educational transitions of middle school, high school, and college or full entry into the world of work, respectively (Steinberg, 2005). With each of these transitions, adolescents’ social worlds expand as they move into new educational, out-of-school, and workplace settings; and they engage in an increasing number of natural mentoring relationships (Beam et al., 2002 and Hamilton and Darling, 1989). Interestingly, little attention has been paid to informal mentoring relationships (Linnehan, 2003), much less to how such relationships evolve as youth move through this rich and complex period. Some studies have documented that 53–85% of youth reported having a natural mentor (Spencer, 2007). In another national sample, nearly three quarters of the respondents reported having had a mentor since the age of 14 apart from any reference to a formal program (DuBois & Silverthorn, 2005). Some consideration has been given to the roles these relationships play (Greenberger et al., 1998 and Hamilton and Darling, 1989), but there is little understanding about how mentoring works from the young person’s perspective. The handful of qualitative studies examining the nature of youth mentoring focus on formal programs rather than natural mentoring (Spencer, 2006) or tend to focus on youth as a whole rather than as separate developmental stages (Spencer, Jordan, & Sazama, 2004). To date, no qualitative studies investigate the differences in natural mentoring in early, middle, and late adolescence or emerging adulthood.1 This lack of differentiation is problematic given literature suggesting great variability in the characteristics and needs of youth during the different adolescent phases (Steinberg, 2005). Along with the biological processes associated with puberty, the onset of adolescence brings significant changes in social, emotional, and cognitive functioning (Arnett, 2004). There are several types of developmental changes that seem particularly relevant to understanding the fit between mentoring and the needs of early, middle, and late adolescents or emerging adults including changes in: cognitive ability and perspective taking, the parent–adolescent relationship, the peer context, and the setting from middle school to high school to college. The shift from preoperational or concrete thinking to formal operational or abstract reasoning brings with it increases in perspective-taking which allows adolescents to engage in deeper and more complex relationships (Carlo, Hausmann, Christiansen, & Randall, 2003). With increases in mobility and independence in adolescence come shifts in adolescents’ parental relationships and a greater emphasis on extrafamilial relationships (Arnett, 2004). As youth progress through adolescence, their opportunities for engaging with adults across an array of settings (e.g., in-school, out-of-school, community and workplace) expand greatly. For example, extracurricular activities are associated with many psychosocial benefits (Darling, Caldwell, & Smith, 2005), and some of these positive outcomes may be mediated by relationships youth develop with their activity leaders which have been considered mentoring relationships given their frequency of contact and supportive nature (Hirsch, 2005). It stands to reason that the shifts described above would affect the nature of mentoring at each developmental stage. Indeed, at each stage, adolescents confront a host of new freedoms and roles that mentors may help them negotiate (Schulenberg, O’Malley, Bachman, Wadsworth, & Johnston, 1996). For example, the developmental shifts associated with early adolescence (e.g., importance of extrafamilial ties), can create a unique opening for mentors. Although friendships play a substantial role in development throughout the life span, they are especially critical in early adolescence (Bukowski, Hoza, & Boivin, 1993); and although friendships have many benefits, they may also play a role in the emergence of relational and physical aggression in early adolescence (Dishion, Andrews, & Crosby, 1995). In addition, the transition from childhood to adolescence can be marked by increases in behavioral and emotional problems (Angold and Rutter, 1992 and Fleming et al., 1993); and although it has been assumed that early adolescents tend to be more influenced by peers as they navigate such challenges, research indicates that parents may contribute to their successful negotiation (Lengua, 2006). Thus, mentors—somewhere between parents and peers—may be in an even better position to influence young adolescents (Rhodes, 2002). Compared to earlier stages, late adolescents and emerging adults may be more likely to move away from home, and engage in adult work roles. Thus, relationships with nonfamilial adults may not only be more accessible than parents, but may take on different functions and meanings. Hamilton and Darling (1989) study of undergraduates suggests ways that mentoring may shape the transition to adulthood—a time when older adolescents may be especially open to the influence of adults other than their parents. In particular, they may be more apt than younger adolescents to turn to older adults in the community for role modeling and help with important decisions. These relationships can provide late adolescents with knowledge, perspectives, or skills that are different than those found at home. In particular, mentors may help late adolescents negotiate developmental tasks involving the balancing of autonomy and connection, which most saliently characterize this period: (1) accepting personal responsibility, (2) making independent decisions, (3) developing a sense of efficacy and individuation, and (4) developing the capacity for mature intimacy (Arnett, 2004). Although these developmental tasks involving the balancing of autonomy and connection start evolving prior to late adolescence (Collins & Sroufe, 1999), during this period they are even more central (Allen & Land, 1999). For example, the process of deidealization has been used to explain the process of separation where, in its initial stages, youth disengage from childish representations of an omnipotent, all-knowing parental figure and question the previously embraced values of the parental figure (Blos, 1967). In dethroning parental figures from their pedestals, perceiving them as human, and de-intensifying early identifications, deidealization enables late adolescents and emerging adults the opportunity to develop both greater autonomy and more mature intimacy. Indeed, despite the fact that late adolescents may seek autonomy in the form of “freedom,” there is evidence that they are just as likely to desire continuing close ties with parental figures, and even more likely than are younger youth to be invested in approval from parental figures. Empirical evidence for what theorists have considered a tension between autonomy strivings and strong needs for closeness and support among late adolescents may help explain the fact that few have achieved deep levels of autonomy in the form of individualism where they are free to make choices apart from the expectations of parental figures (Offer & Offer, 1975). Although no published studies compare the nature of natural mentoring relationships across these three groups, a number of studies on mentoring programs have found that younger and older adolescents differentially benefit from mentoring. These studies have divided groups of adolescents in various ways, including by developmental stage, splitting youth into the categories of “early adolescents” and “middle/late adolescents” (DuBois, Holloway, Valentine, & Cooper, 2002) and by the schooling categories of “middle school” and “high school” (Cavell & Smith, 2005). Cavell and Smith (2005) found that high schoolers benefited more than middle schoolers. In contrast, DuBois et al. (2002) found evidence that early adolescents benefited more than middle/late adolescents. Thus, the few studies that compare mentoring during different stages in adolescence have mixed findings. Other questions also remained unanswered, including, how do adolescents in different stages characterize the mentoring relationships they naturally gravitate toward, in terms of (1) mentor characteristics, (2) relationship characteristics, (3) key functions, and (4) outcomes? Across the related fields of research on youth, academic and workplace mentoring there has been some discussion of the developmental stages of mentoring, most based on Kram (1983) model (e.g., Keller, 2005), but virtually no research on how mentees’ developmental needs may shape the mentoring process. Developmental perspectives have informed conceptual work in the various mentoring literatures. For example, Otto (1994) notes that careers develop in stages and are associated with differing needs. She contrasts the formative nature of early career development (when adults are becoming more independent from their families of origin and developing a sense of competence) with the mid-career phase (when adults tend to reassess their career direction). Johnson, Rose, and Schlosser (2007) discuss the differing developmental needs of undergraduates as well as those of faculty. Drawing on the theories of Erikson, 1980 and Chickering, 1969 and Levinson et al., 1978 and Johnson et al., 2007 describe key developmental tasks facing mentees at various stages and identify ways mentors can help them work through tasks at each stage. In their model which integrates youth, academic, and workplace mentoring, Allen and Eby (2007) utilize a developmental framework to draw linkages between mentoring relationships across the lifespan and highlight the different roles that such relationships can play in meeting fundamental belongingness needs at each stage of life. Thus, within the mentoring field, various authors have drawn from developmental theories, however, little empirical work has been done to confirm these concepts.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study demonstrates how a developmental perspective may elucidate the youth mentoring process. The findings offer insight into some features of mentoring relationships that may be consistent across age groups, and highlight ways that youth may differentially experience, and draw support from, mentoring relationships in early, middle and late adolescence. The early adolescents’ tendency to identify familial mentors is consistent with literature suggesting that youth may have less contact with unrelated adults than was the case in previous generations (Darling, Hamilton, & Hames, 2003). Modern circumstances, such as the extension of schooling, dual-parent employment, and most teens being employed in settings with individuals not much older than themselves (Greenberger & Steinberg, 1986), may result in youth spending a lot of time in settings where there are few chances to connect with adults outside the family. The shift towards more diverse, extrafamilial choices in mentors among college students may reflect changes associated with late adolescence—a time when youths’ social worlds broaden and they shift from family embeddedness to greater independence. Although some studies have revealed ethnic differences in choice of natural mentors, with Latino and African American college students being more likely to select mentors who are family members and White youth being just as likely to name non-relatives (Sanchez & Colon, 2005), this difference did not hold for college participants in the present study. Regardless, our study suggests that programs should consider how to improve opportunities for connection with both familial and nonfamilial mentors. The tendency for each group to emphasize trust, shared leisure activities, and role modeling in mentoring relationships is consistent with previous research on natural and formal youth mentoring (Rhodes, 2002, Spencer, 2006 and Spencer et al., 2004), as well as work on academic and workplace mentoring. Rose (2005) found that graduate students’ ratings of qualities of ideal mentors, such as exhibiting behavior to be emulated and engaging in social activities, did not vary significantly by developmental stage as a graduate student. Dougherty, Turban, and Haggard (2007), in their review of natural workplace mentoring, also note the importance of these psychosocial aspects of mentoring. As Kram (1988) in her seminal study of workplace mentoring observed, the quality of the interpersonal bond “enables the younger to identify with the older and to find a model whom the younger would like to become” (p. 23). Together these observations suggest that mentoring, in whatever form, is distinguished by a personal connection that promotes positive identification and role modeling. Although it may require much time and patience, mentors who invest in winning youths’ trust and confidence may be more likely to have a positive influence (Spencer, 2006). Research on workplace and academic mentoring has found that perceived similarities between mentors and protégés relates to the amount of mentoring received (Ensher and Murphy, 1997 and Turban et al., 2002), perhaps due to the trust that ensues from perceived similarities. Thus, youth mentor programs which tend to attract Caucasian middle-to-upper-income adults to mentor low-income youth of color (MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. Mentoring in America, 2002) may need to pay particular attention to the building of common ground and trust between youth and mentors. Sharing leisure activities may help establish this trust and common ground while also serving as a growth-promoting process itself. The Relational Cultural Theory of psychological development suggests that a central feature of growth-fostering relationships is “zest,” conceptualized as that which creates a sense of vitality within the connection (Miller & Stiver, 1991). For youth, “zest” may be fostered by a sense of shared fun that motivates them to engage in relationships. For example, Loder and Hirsch (2003) found that youth clubs were powerful contexts for developing close relationships because of the enticement of fun activities. Similarly, our participants’ emphasis on shared recreational activities is consistent with studies that show the importance of mentors paying attention to a young person’s need for fun (Morrow and Styles, 1995 and Spencer, 2006). Not only is having fun key to relationship-building, it can also provide young people with special opportunities that go beyond those attained in their family (Morrow & Styles, 1995). These recreational needs, perhaps more important to younger adolescents, remained a significant aspect of mentoring relationships among emerging adults in our study. Role modeling is central to all types of mentoring, whether in workplace, academic, or youth mentoring settings (Ramaswami and Dreher, 2007 and Rhodes et al., 2006). Role-modeling is thought to foster positive development by shaping and expanding adolescents’ identities (Rhodes et al., 2006). Our findings suggest that role-modeling may evolve throughout adolescence as youth work to redefine their relationships with significant adults, especially regarding autonomy and connection. Indeed, theorists have long associated role-modeling with issues of autonomy and connection in adolescence. Specifically, “imitation, identification, idealization” are tied with emotional connection, whereas disidentification and deidealization are tied with separation processes, particularly in late adolescence (Dashef, 1984). Shifts in autonomy may be seen even between early and mid-adolescence (Levpušcek, 2006). Results showed that idealization and individuation issues were relevant for middle schoolers and high schoolers, but the younger group tended to emphasize more dependency on and idealization of mentors. Taken together, these findings suggest that adolescents move toward greater autonomy strivings which in turn are associated with a more differentiated form of identification with role-models, where role-models may be increasingly accepted for their human imperfections and vulnerabilities. Similarly, although youth in each developmental phase described identifying with their mentors, early adolescents described greater idealization and a desire for mentors to consistently live up to these positive images. The middle and late adolescents, on the other hand, articulated an appreciation for the opportunity to see mentors’ struggle and to be able to both model their strengths and learn from their mistakes. Halperin (1988), in his analysis of films providing commentary on the process of mentoring in the lives of adolescent artists, specifically identified the developmental progression from idealization and mirroring to deidealization later in an adolescent’s mentoring relationship. The shifts in cognitive development in later adolescence that allow for the development of critical thinking and lead to greater complexity in our views of self and other (Arnett, 2004) may call on mentors to engage with their protégés in different ways. Older adolescents may not only be more accepting of mentors’ flaws but may also need to see some aspects of their mentors’ personal struggles to realistically balance strengths and weaknesses in the face of life’s challenges. Engagement with authentic mentors may provide older adolescents opportunities to enhance their coping capacities by learning that shortcomings and adversity are inevitable parts of life that need not stand in the way of personal and professional achievement. Further, the narratives of our participants reveal subtle variations in autonomy-seeking across developmental stage. In general, our findings suggest a potential shift from early to late adolescence in desires for autonomy in mentoring relationships. The middle and late adolescent participants detailed various attempts to balance connection with increasing autonomy, a theme that was absent from the narratives of early adolescents. The older youth emphasized their expectation that they should be able to make autonomous decisions, and at the same time expressed strong wishes for approval and feelings of disappointment when such responses were not forthcoming from their mentors. They described how a lack of approval felt like a betrayal of sorts in that it dashed their expectations for a non-hierarchical relationship with their mentors. Thus, the present study suggests that issues of connectedness and autonomy in mentoring relationships remain relevant throughout adolescence (Bogat & Liang, 2005). Further, mentoring that is sensitive to simultaneous desires for autonomy and approval may be especially well-received by older adolescents. The older adolescents were also more sensitive to mutuality; they described a need for give and take in the mentoring relationship in ways that early adolescents did not. The high school and college students described the sharing and advice giving as reciprocal, and noted a sense of mutual respect with their mentors. Halperin et al. (1988), who used films to elucidate the nature of mentoring in adolescent creativity, noted a particular emphasis in films on the importance of a mutual relationship between mentors and mentees in which personal growth as well as technical education occur. The author argued that mentoring without mutuality degenerates into the relationship of a master to an “apprentice/servant.” Although our study participants were speaking explicitly about personal sharing, research on academic mentoring in higher education settings has also pointed to the importance of mutuality, here in the form of mutual respect, shared decision-making, and a sense of mutual benefit and valuing of the relationship (Dixon, 2001). Indeed, in a longitudinal, qualitative study of graduate student-faculty mentoring, mutuality was the most important relational quality sought after by mentees (Dixon, 2001). The literature on workplace mentoring has similarly emphasized mutuality, indicating that mutual relationships endured far longer than top-down mentoring relationships (Kram & Isabella, 1985). Mutuality has been described by individuals in workplaces as a matter of being able to influence the other person in work-related or technical matters (Kram & Isabella, 1985). Others described mutuality in terms of role flexibility, such as serving as both the giver and recipient of advice or support. In addition, mutuality was described in terms of both mentees and mentors deriving benefits from the relationship. As mentors provided career and psychosocial support to younger talent, they themselves gained technical and psychological support, personal satisfaction, and respect from colleagues (Kram, 1983). Moreover, these studies suggested that mutuality became more important during later stages in career mentoring as compared to earlier ones (Kram & Isabella, 1985). A recent study of professional women’s experiences of mentoring relationships (Deweese, 2004) similarly demonstrated an evolution toward more mutual relationships across career mentoring stages. Finally, consistent with previous research on the informal mentoring relationships of early and late adolescents that has demonstrated the relevance of empowerment and its psychological benefits in adolescent mentees (Liang et al., 2002 and Liang et al., 2002), empowerment emerged as a prominent theme across our three age groups. The ways that empowerment was achieved, however, sounded a bit different in the two older adolescent groups than it did among middle schoolers. The process of empowering youth—coupling practical support and verbal encouragement to excel—was consistent, but the older youth described mentors becoming even more actively and practically engaged during key times of transition, such as preparing for the next step in their educational and vocational lives. Although there exists virtually no literature that examines how the process of empowering mentees may evolve over time within adolescent and academic mentoring relationships, the workplace literature reveals some specific ways in which empowerment shifts across developmental stages of mentoring. Specifically, in Kram and Isabella (1985) study, individuals in the youngest age group and earliest career phase needed general empowerment, such as acquiring confidence while defining their professional role. As individuals became established in their professions, they became concerned with advancement in their profession (Hall, 1976), and thus needed more specific information from mentors that could enable their future advancement through increased knowledge of the organization, as well as through greater visibility to those in power. Mid-career is a time when individuals re-evaluate life choices; and thus mentors can provide career strategizing, job-related feedback, and psychosocial support in managing fears of obsolescence. 5.1. Limitations and recommendations There are several limitations to this study that should be noted. Although some have argued that focus groups may be less constrained by participants’ verbal ability, as listening to others articulate their experiences often sparks the thinking of group members who may be less insightful and articulate in a one-to-one interview, the verbal abilities of the younger adolescents were certainly less well-developed than those of the college students. Moreover, the focus group methodology may have limited our ability to detect aspects of mentoring relationships that are differently experienced across participants. That is, by using focus groups, we may have been more likely to gather data on commonalities across the participants’ experiences, rather than capturing aspects that are unique and idiosyncratic to each participant. In addition, group dynamics might be considered a confounding factor in this study, in that they might drive differences in themes rather than age. Thus, future work may do well to include alternative data collection procedures, such as individual interviews, that would offset any data potentially lost through focus groups. Given that convenience sampling was used, another limitation is that the sample is not necessarily representative of all middle school, high school, and college students. For example, several of the college focus groups tend to be relatively lacking in ethnic, and perhaps also socioeconomic, diversity. Unfortunately, we did not have specific social class data that would help determine the comparability of groups. Third, as noted previously, the presence of the themes identified does not indicate their relative importance to participants or provide insight into whether and in what ways these dimensions of mentoring relationships may play a role in their effectiveness. Future research should systematically examine potential demographic differences in the mentoring process by including increasingly diverse populations of youth and by using multiple forms of data collection, such as individual interviews, observations, and surveys to address these noted limitations. Indeed, little empirical research has explicitly focused on elucidating differences between girls and boys in how each relate with mentors (Bogat & Liang, 2005). Similarly, more work is needed to delineate ethnic influences on access to mentors, as well as mentoring processes (Liang & Grossman, 2007). The findings from this study align with previous research that has begun to examine the importance of qualitative aspects of mentoring, ranging from relationship duration to level of closeness and trust (Rhodes, 2002). These dimensions of mentoring were salient to youth who participated in this study, whether they were in early or late adolescence. Future research should examine the relative contribution the qualitative aspects of mentoring relationships make to their effectiveness and whether these are more and less important at different developmental moments for youth of varying ethnic backgrounds. Moreover, systematic exploration of the relevance of Relational–Cultural Theory qualities (e.g., authenticity, engagement, empowerment, zest) in youth mentoring relationships should be done. In sum, despite these subtle variations across developmental stage, our findings suggest that mentors should seek to foster close, enduring relationships that are not overly directive or hierarchical, but rather ones that are responsive, mutual, and trustworthy, providing an appropriate balance of emotional and practical support, challenge, and enjoyment.