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Mentor Relationships and Its Effect on Academic Achievement, Research Proposal Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1427

Research Proposal

Brief history

The development of mentoring relationships in academic settings provides a useful approach in improving outcomes for students as related to academic performance and progression. It is believed that these mentoring relationships support the development of new approaches to mentoring to improve its effectiveness for students in highly competitive advanced doctoral programs.

Review

A study by Alonso, Castano, Calles, and Sanchez-Herrero (2010) describes the effectiveness of peer mentoring using fifth-year mentors and fourth-year students. The study determined that fourth-year students widely benefited from the knowledge and experience conveyed by their fifth-year mentors with respect to understanding their roles and responsibilities to the program and what this entails; however, they are not necessarily any more effective in providing psychosocial support for these students (Alonso et.al, 2010). It was determined that identifying key variables is required to facilitate a more effective response to these mentoring relationships for fourth-year students (Alonso et.al, 2010). This requires an evaluation of the variables and research method used to determine if additional factors may be required to facilitate successful results for students (Alonso et.al, 2010).

A study conducted by Hill (2011) addressed how student success is achieved and if support systems and mentoring have any true impact on these conditions. The study determined through a series of scales that students are likely to benefit significantly from support systems in order to achieve optimal academic performance, and that this is best accomplished through a mentoring approach, while also considering methods to reduce stressors for students in advanced doctoral programs (Hill, 2011). Without these approaches in place, it is likely that students will not achieve the optimal benefits of advanced doctoral education and instruction and that ongoing mentoring and support are required to facilitate student growth and development (Hill, 2011).

For students studying psychology at the doctoral level, a study by Dickinson (1999) supports the belief that faculty commitment to providing mentoring and psychosocial support to students is an effective tool in improving the lives of students with these tools. In addition, faculty mentors believed that these opportunities were useful, coupled with their routine responsibilities to teaching (Dickinson, 1999). In the mentoring role, faculty members are in a unique position to provide advanced knowledge and support that is not understood by student mentors because they do not have the same experience and knowledge level (Dickinson, 1999). The mentoring role at the faculty level provides support for students in enhancing their intellectual capacity and in supporting their personal and academic growth in their doctoral program (Dickinson, 1999).

Finally, Morgan (2011) addresses the importance of mentoring networks for clinical psychology graduate students and notes that mentoring plays a significant role in such areas as acceptance, friendship, and counseling, while this role is less significant in exposure and protection. Therefore, it is believed that mentors should consider new strategies to improve outcomes for their students with respect to such areas as assuming a parental role and socialization, even though these might not be considered as relevant to students (Morgan, 2011). Nonetheless, the mentoring role for clinical psychology graduate students is likely to be instrumental in shaping their academic growth because it provides them with tools and knowledge that they might not otherwise gain exposure to without this mentoring relationship (Morgan, 2011). These efforts demonstrate that students will acquire a number of benefits from the mentoring role when they are placed with mentors who recognize the value of this position and how it supports student achievement and growth (Morgan, 2011).

Method

Purpose

The primary purpose of this study is to evaluate the role of the mentoring relationship in advancing academic achievement and performance for second year clinical psychology doctoral students. It is expected that the mentoring role and relationship will provide important benefits to students in progressing within this program in an effective manner, based upon prior mentoring knowledge and experience.

Paradigm

The proposed study is likely to demonstrate that the mentoring relationship has an important impact on how students perform in a doctoral clinical psychology program. It is believed that the mentoring role will enhance the academic achievement and performance of students in the second year of this program when they have become more familiar with the program but are not yet experts in how to manage all aspects of the program in an effective manner. It is expected that key variables will play a role in shaping the mentor-student relationship in positive and meaningful ways, while other characteristics may not be statistically relevant to this relationship.

Study Design

The proposed study will be descriptive in nature and will utilize a quantitative approach by using various mentoring scales and characteristics to capture the desired data. The study will evaluate a number of characteristics of the mentoring relationship and how it naturally develops and will determine which characteristics are most useful in improving student progression in the doctoral clinical psychology program, given the difficult nature and complexity of this program.

Variables

The key variables will include psychosocial influence, socialization, teaching, knowledge sharing, educational development, emotional support, and academic progression. Each of these variables will be evaluated to determine the effectiveness of this mentoring relationship on academic preparedness and growth.

Population and Sample

The proposed population will include a small group of second year students in the clinical psychology doctoral program. The sample will be chosen from this small group and will consider only those students who have been assigned mentors for the program in the second year. The proposed sample demographics will encompass students from a variety of backgrounds. No culture, race, or gender will be excluded from potential study participation. The sample size will be determined by using the second year clinical psychology doctoral student pool. This population sample is small to begin with, but a large sample is not necessary for the type of study and analysis under consideration.

Investigative Techniques

The study will utilize a survey instrument to determine the impact of the mentoring relationship on student performance and progression and will incorporate they key variables directly into the survey itself. The key independent variable is the mentoring relationship itself and the dependent variables are psychosocial influence, socialization, teaching, knowledge sharing, educational development, emotional support, and academic progression. A specific mentoring scale will be used to measure each variable.

Instrumentation

The instrument to be used will already exist and will incorporate the required elements for consideration. Validity and reliability will be evaluated in the context of how the instrument performs with the population that is selected. The instrument will be scored using an existing measurement framework. The Likert scale is a common method of evaluating attitudes and will be used in this study to capture the perspectives of students and their mentors.
Data Collection

The data will be collected using the survey instrument and then evaluated using an existing scoring technique. The proposed timetable is to conduct the survey approximately six months after the mentoring relationship has begun.

Data Analysis Plan

Descriptive/univariate statistics will be collected to determine frequency and tendency in one way or another. The analysis will be conducted using a basic program such as SPSS. The data analysis techniques used in this study will emphasize attitudes and perceptions regarding mentoring from the second year student perspective in order to capture the potential effectiveness of the mentoring relationship.

Ethical Considerations

The protection of human subjects is a critical priority and requires IRB approval to protect subjects from unnecessary risk of data sharing, although no physical harm is anticipated. From an ethical perspective, all surveys will be confidential and will be sealed. Prior to participation, each student will be required to verify informed consent by signing a form that confirms their willingness to participate in the project. This will cover their participation in the study from start to finish.

Bias

Study bias are common; however, all measures will be taken to include all possible second year students within the specified program, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, and other factors.

Assumptions

It is assumed that study participants will be honest in truthful in their survey responses to ensure accuracy.

Limitations

Study limitations include only evaluating a small study population of second year students, which may be too small to determine efficacy for larger population groups.

References

Alonso, M.A., Castano, G., Calles, A.M., and Sanchez-Herrero, S. (2010). Assessment of the                efficacy of a peer mentoring program in a university setting. The Spanish Journal of  Psychology, 13(2), 685-696.

Dickinson, S.C. (1999). Mentor relationships in clinical psychology doctoral training: a national survey of directors of training. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Hill, L.M. (2011). Perceived stress, academic support, social support, and professional support              factors as predictors of student success in distributed-learning doctoral education. Fielding Graduate University: UMI 3440045.

Morgan, D.N. (2011). Mentoring networks among clinical psychology graduate students. George Fox University: UMI 3483936.

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