Positive relationship -building within a teacher education mentoring program: A mixed methods study
Strong relationship building skills are essential to happiness and fulfillment. The purpose of the study was to assess the impact of the Clifton-NHRI Project's curriculum on participants' ability to build positive relationships and to examine various demographic and personality factors as potential predictors of a participant's ability to build positive relationships throughout a two-year period. Participants in the concurrent, embedded, longitudinal correlational mixed methods study were 11 third/fourth year mentors and 11 first/second year mentees majoring in education at a large midwestern university. Relationship strength was measured by working alliance using a modified Working Alliance Inventory (WAI). Predictors of working alliance addressed in the research questions were level of goal-setting ability, measured by the Dispositional Hope Scale; level of optimism, measured by the aliveness subscale of the Self-Reflection Survey (SRS); level of interpersonal skills, measured by the Personal Attitude Scale (PAS); level of engagement, measured by attendance at bi-monthly group meetings and frequency of one-on-one mentor/mentee meetings; level of self-awareness, measured by the number of shared top personality strengths reported by the Strength-Finder Profile©; and three demographic variables; parental occupation as a teacher, birth order and number of siblings. The qualitative component consisted of three focus groups. Quantitative results showed that level of engagement was a statistically significant predictor of initial working alliance, p < .05. In addition, level of interpersonal skills was a statistically significant predictor of initial working alliance, p < .10. The trajectory of the WAI scores took a sharp increase from Time 1 to Time 2 and then leveled off or decreased thereafter. The mentees' mean WAI scores were above the mentors' mean WAI scores at all time points. The qualitative findings revealed that participants had gained or improved in four relationship-building skills: accommodation, being flexible; adaptation, taking on different roles as necessary; appreciation of consequences of making a commitment; and communication. Culmination of the mixed methods results was a proposed model of the relationship building process.
0745: Higher education