The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

The Extent to Which African American Social Work Doctoral Students Value Mentor Relationships: The Impact of Various Mentoring Types, Experiences & Perceptions

Saturday, January 18, 2014: 11:30 AM
Marriott Riverwalk, Alamo Ballroom Salon E, 2nd Floor Elevator Level BR (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Kenya C. Jones, MSW, Adjunct Faculty & Graduate Assistant, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Purpose: This study explored African American doctoral students mentoring relationship experiences in social work programs.  Mentoring is a valuable asset that has been adapted in several arenas both professionally and academically.  Early research on mentoring student development placed heavy focus on undergraduate education.  The majority of these studies examined factors that related to how students responded to mentoring relationships, without specializing in race and gender differences.  With a growing number of social work faculty approaching retirement there is a mounting concern about the future of academia and how to produce more PhDs (Anatas, 2009).  Thus, there is a greater need to create successful mentoring experiences that will increase the graduation rates of doctoral candidates.  Additionally, this study was an examination of student perceptions of the attributes valued most in an ideal mentor relationship.

Method: African American current and recent graduates (2009-2012) of social work doctoral programs participated in an on-line survey.  The questionnaire included 35-54 multiple choice questions, with one open ended question (If you do not identify a mentor, share how you sought guidance?).  Recruitment flyers were distributed through email and various social media mechanisms: FACEBOOK, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  The survey was open for 6 weeks from December 2012 to January 2013.  113 participants consented and responded to survey questions that consisted of 2 instruments, the Dixon-Reeves(2001) Survey of Characteristics and Dimensions of Mentoring, and Rose (1999) Ideal Mentor Scale which explored student feelings, ideals, and perceptions of their mentoring experiences. Responses were coded and analyzed utilized SPSS to determine statistical significance among primary variables against the ideal mentor scale scores cumulatively and individually as Guidance, Integrity, and Relationship attributes.  Primary variables consisted of doctoral student characteristics, institutional characteristics, mentor characteristics, and socio-demographic characteristics. The overarching research question of this study was what do African American social work doctoral students value most in mentoring relationships? 

Results:  As hypothesized, ANOVA and t-tests analyses for age, institution type, and mentor type each were statistically significant in identifying mentor values in integrity, and relationship scores.  Students and recent graduates shared in identifying their primary mentor as an Advisor.  Furthermore, the number of years in program was significant in the importance of guidance and relationship in their ideal mentor values.  Outcome analyses yielded additional information about the number and type of scholarly activities participated in during their social work matriculation.

Conclusion: This study’s findings provided new information about the characteristics essential to positive mentoring relationships of African American social work doctoral students, which included improving the development of mentoring connections and relationships early within the student’s matriculation into social work doctoral programs.   Social work schools and programs can identify the benefits to offering additional communication, resources to faculty members that will be identified as student advisors.  The study also offered African American social work doctoral students and recent graduates an opportunity to express their perceptions about their mentoring experiences.