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Section 7. Getting Feedback: Keeping Your Mentoring Program Relevant and Successful

Example 1: A mentor-training experience in feedback

Dr. Maggie Stone directs the McNair Scholars Program at the Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. She works with junior and senior undergraduates, usually first generation low-income or under-represented who are academically talented and capable of successfully completing doctoral programs. The program focuses entirely on research, and she talked to us about how it works.

"One of the reasons we really do enjoy having our faculty involved is that this gives them an opportunity to work with the student one-on-one rather than with an entire class," Dr. Stone said. "The mentoring process one-on-one is very, very different from standing up and talking to a whole classroom full of people for 50 minutes and then going away. So this is the opportunity for the student to self-select faculty and for the faculty to share a research experience with a student one-on-one over the course of a year. One-on-one relationships with students do differ."

Three times during the year that the program lasts, Dr. Stone conducts a feedback survey to follow how the program is going. "We ask [faculty members] to complete a faculty mentoring report form that outlines the amount of contact they've had with the student and the nature of that contact. And then asks them for some qualitative evaluations on how the student was responding." For the students, there's a feedback survey twice a year, at the halfway point in the program. "At the end of our program we ask them to complete an evaluation form which it looks at the entire program including the nature and quality of the mentoring they've gotten from their faculty member. And whether or not they would recommend that faculty member to somebody else."

Example 2: Satisfaction survey

One way of gathering feedback for a mentoring program is to conduct a satisfaction survey. In it you can access how valuable your mentors are finding the mentoring experience and they ca provide useful advice to make the program run smoother. Here are some quotes from a satisfaction survey done by a school-based program in Kansas City.

On training:

  • "Longer sessions - we only meet with [the protégés] for one hour."

  • "Have a volunteer with several years of experience help train new volunteers. Let the new people know about other volunteer's insights and experiences."

  • "I'd like specific information on dealing with difficult and troubled kids. How should I discipline kids when they misbehave?"

On matching:

  • "Giving us some information about the student would help--do they have a single parent, siblings, what are their needs?"

  • "I felt t my match was perfect. We have even seen each other outside the program."

  • "My protégé and I were very sad we have to wait until next school year to see each other."

In general:

  • "I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with my protégé and developed a bond. She seemed to look forward to and enjoy our meetings."

  • "If a student intends to commit to a full semester with a volunteer, it would be helpful, to interview the students to find out his or her needs and then make the appropriate match."

  • "I feel that it helps to make children feel special, maybe they will even strive harder to learn."

  • "I enjoyed working with the student and seeing how much he improved by the end of the school year."