|Abstract or Summary
- The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of faculty-to-faculty mentoring programs on the experiences of both mentors and first-year instructor protégés in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs with an emphasis on practitioner-educators in nursing and in welding-fabrication. The study was undertaken for four reasons: (a) increases in retirement rates force extensive replacement of experienced community college CTE faculty, (b) teaching effectiveness is linked to student success and is often predicated on experience and the application of best andragogical practices, (c) mentoring constitutes effective preparation for new professionals, and (d) given the demands placed on community colleges to educate learners and provide for a robust workforce, faculty preparation constitutes a significant challenge for community college leaders well into the future.
The research design used an interpretive social science philosophical approach and the method of hermeneutic phenomenology. Ten faculty from three community colleges were interviewed in order to understand: (a) what they viewed as the key elements in a mentoring initiative, (b) how the elements of mentoring influence the experiences of first-year faculty, and (c) what common themes
emerged concerning mentoring experiences that participants self-describe as successful. Impressions and statements drawn from the interviews were examined to show how the participants viewed their experiences within the mentoring relationship and how such experiences played a part in their lives as practitioner-educators.
Aspects of mentoring experiences that participants identified as both present and high yield in nature included collaboration, reciprocity in relationships, a dedication to continuous improvement in both program and individual performance, access to experiences that constituted a source of renewal for programs and educators, and the existence of transformative experiences that lead to growth and satisfaction. Analysis of participant statements identified the needs of novice instructors coming to the community college learning environment for the first time and suggested experiences that may support them in their andragogical growth. Among the insights drawn from the study are the following: Providing authentic growth experiences that work may positively affect faculty retention and satisfaction. Institutional initiatives can be deemed successful only if they have a positive impact on students and the achievement of their outcomes.
Taking into consideration these insights, related recent literature on mentoring, and the lived experiences of practicing CTE instructors as shared through their interviews, this study offers implications for community college leaders responsible for shaping and nurturing the faculty in a time of competitive job opportunities, unprecedented retirements, and scarcity of resources in an increasingly-complex environment. The manner in which these parameters are addressed may likely affect institutional success and prestige, faculty retention and satisfaction, student success, and long-term program viability.