Cristina Costa

Cristina Costa

University of Rhode Island

Human Development & Family Studies


Mentor: Dr. Thomas Schram, Associate Professor of Education

School-based Mentoring Programs: An Agenda for Field-based Research

The purpose of this project is to explore the nature and effects of mentoring programs targeted at middle school youth. A review of the literature on school-based mentoring programs, particularly those involving university-affiliated mentors, suggests the role of these programs in nurturing mentees’ self esteem and supporting their academic development. Most of these studies, however, focus on program outcomes but neglect to define or explain how program participants actually experience and feel about the mentoring relationship.

Based on these concerns, I have developed a preliminary research design for a field-based study of a middle school mentoring program in Rhode Island. My approach builds upon a collective case study of 6-8 selected pairs of adolescent youth and mentors, supplemented by subsequent focus group interviews with 3-4 pairs at a time. Each case study would entail the construction of each pair’s current experiences and conflicts with the mentoring program. The focus groups will serve to highlight, clarify, and compare key concerns and themes that arise out of the case studies.

The significance of this research lies in its potential to give voice to the lived experience of these individuals, in contrast to the more common outcome-based studies that simply identify changes in pre- and post-test indicators. My study will suggest questions for further field-based research and provide an in-depth examination of the mentoring experience form the perspective of those directly affected by it.

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