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A theoretical contribution to research on ‘teacher induction policies’ and ‘mentoring policy’
University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Educational sciences, Educational science, Curriculum studies. (IT i Lärande)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5592-2964
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Introduction

Mentoring is a global phenomenon. Even though the concept of ‘mentoring’ exists in different national and cultural contexts and is performed in a variety of ways, it is nevertheless a contested practice (Kemmis et al., 2014). The incoherent way of naming, framing and defining ‘mentoring’ has been discussed in the literature, in that different concepts, such as mentoring, coaching, supervision etc., have been used to describe the same phenomenon (cf. Gold, 1996; Sundli, 2007; Mullen, 2012;). For instance, Mullen (2012) writes that: “While some theorists think of coaching as a type of mentoring, others see the exact reverse – that is, mentoring as a type of coaching” (p. 9). Further, in the educational field a clear line is seldom drawn between ‘mentoring’ practiced in  initial teacher training and the ‘mentoring’ of newly qualified teachers. This may mean that the same phenomenon is described in different ways, or that different descriptions are applied to the same phenomenon.

The purpose of this conceptual paper is to problematize how the concept of ‘mentoring’ is used in the literature to address the ‘phenomenon of mentoring’.

Perspective(s) or theoretical frame­work

In this study, a sensemaking perspective is used to acknowledge the processes of sensemaking and negotiation of meanings. According to Weick (1995), sensemaking involves three specific elements: a frame of past moments and understandings, cues of the present moment of experience and a connection in-between, Accordingly, ‘the content of sensemaking is to be found in the frames and categories’ (p. 111) that summarize past experiences. Thus, how the concept of ‘mentoring’ or the ‘phenomenon of mentoring’ is made sense of in individual or specific contexts is a result of negotiations of meanings.

Methods and data

The data for this conceptual paper comes from strategically chosen journal articles as examples of how the concept of ‘mentoring’ is used in different national and cultural educational contexts. A content analysis is performed to identify the various meanings of mentoring and the contexts in which it is used (Miles, Huberman & Saldaña, 2014).

Arguments and con­clusions

The analysis shows that major challenges in (accurate) sensemaking can be due to:

(a)   language transformation (notions and concepts from one language are transformed into another language, most often into English, which can result in a change of meaning)

(b)  context transformation (sensemaking of context specific circumstances may be difficult)

(c)   context insensitivity (mixing up different ‘mentoring contexts’)

(d)  phenomenon insensitivity (mixing up different phenomena, e.g. ‘coaching’, ‘mentoring’, etc.

In certain contexts, some of these issues may be of minor relevance, whilst in others they may be vital for achieving (accurate) sensemaking.

The paper draws attention to the importance of acknowledging linguistic, conceptual and contextual dimensions of ‘mentoring’ in the sense-making process in order to achieve stringency and coherence in research, for instance when research overviews are conducted to frame own research.

References:

Kemmis, S., Heikkinen, H., Fransson, G., Aspfors, J. & Edwards-Groves, C. (2014).  Mentoring of new teachers as a contested practice: Supervision, support and collaborative self-development. Teaching and Teacher Education. Vol. 43, 154–164

Miles, M.B., Huberman, A.M. & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: a methods sourcebook. (3. ed.) Los Angeles: Sage.

Mullen, C.A. (2012). Mentoring: An Overview. In S.J. Fletcher & C.A. Mullen (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Mentoring and Coaching in Education (pp. 7–23). London: SAGE.

Sundli, L. (2007): Mentoring – A new mantra for education? Teaching and Teacher Edu­cation. 23(2). pp. 201–214.

Weick, K. (1995): Sensemaking in Organisations. Thousand Oaks. California: Sage Pub­lications.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-26468OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-26468DiVA, id: diva2:1199109
Conference
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting, 13-18 April, 2018, New York, USA
Projects
Induction-gruppenAvailable from: 2018-04-19 Created: 2018-04-19 Last updated: 2018-04-20Bibliographically approved

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Fransson, Göran

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