Creating sustainable learning by understanding subcultural variations in mentor selection criteria
To create sustainable learning in today’s younger generation three factors seem to impact the most – depth and breath in the knowledge of the subject, ability to communicate effectively and ability to develop relationship with students. Effectiveness of communication and relationship is greatly influenced by the factors that students are looking for in the faculty. If they perceived their faculty as their mentor, the faculty member will have the greatest influence on those students.
The purpose of this study was to identify if there were differences in criteria for the selection of mentors in African American, Hispanic-American, Asian Pacific Islander, and Caucasian male and female undergraduate students. The selection criteria included age of the mentor, gender of the mentor, respective races of the mentor and the protégé, time desired with the mentor, professional accomplishments of the mentor, ability of the mentor to advance protege's career, similarity of life experiences of the mentor and the protégé, expectation of psychological support from the mentor, number of mentors needed to fulfill protégé's mentoring needs, and the importance placed on having a mentor. This research also studied the differences in criteria of selection of mentors between male and female students in each race.
Methodology. This study was based on descriptive and ex post facto research designs that tested thirteen research questions. Four hundred forty two students participated in this research. The data were analyzed with a two way analysis of variance (ANOVA), an independent sample t test, and the test of least significant difference (LSD).
Findings. This study found that there are more similarities than differences in selection criteria for mentors between culturally diverse students. All ethnic groups preferred a mentor who was older; preferred same race mentor; desired to spend a significant amount of time with their mentor; and wanted psychological and career advancement support. Even though each ethnic group, and gender within each ethnic group preferred mentors with similar characteristics, there were statistically significant differences about the level of importance each placed on these characteristics. The research concludes that all ethnic groups believe that it is very important to have a mentor. Gender of the mentor is not a critical consideration in the selection of mentor.
Recommendations. This research suggests that to be effective, mentors needs to spend significant amount of time with protégé; share their professional accomplishments and method of accomplishment with their protégé; assist with protégé’s career advancement by providing visibility, guidance, networking, and career support; and provide psychological support to the protégé by making them feel competent, supporting their self-esteem, and being their friend.
Keywords: culture, subculture variations, diversity, learning
Dr. Rita Thakur
Associate Dean, College of Business and Public Management, University of La Verne