Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

William E. Blank, Ph.D.

Keywords

High school dropouts, Online mentoring, Self-esteem, National Mentoring Partnership, GED Exit Option

Abstract

The purpose of this research was twofold. Since e-mentoring is relatively new, there have been very few studies that have explored the impact of an e-mentoring program on both the academic and psychological outcomes of its participants. In addition, there is little research on the quality of implementing, or what we will call the working quality, of an e-mentoring model. This study addressed both. First, the study examined whether or not e-mentoring had an academic and psychological impact on 32 high school students who were at-risk of dropping out of school. The students were enrolled in a GED Exit Option program at two technical centers in a large urban school district in Florida. Each student was matched with a mentor who was a business partner and involved with one or both of the technical centers in an advisory capacity. The students and mentors were randomly matched and never met face-to-face during the program.

All of their communication and mentoring was done online using a secure e-mail program. Second, the working quality of the e-mentoring model was addressed. By using the design experiment methodology during the course of the study and examining the quality of each component of the e-mentoring model as it was being implemented, revisions were made as problems were identified during each component of the e-mentoring program. The structured e-mentoring model used was based on a review of the literature and specifically on the research of Single and Muller (1999). The students, mentors, and instructors who participated were co-participants in the design and analysis and provided input using surveys and focus groups at several intervals throughout the e-mentoring program.

The design experiment approach was intended to help researchers deal with and learn from events in classrooms where it is impossible to control many variables and where the objective of the research is to refine a system (e.g., an e-mentoring program) or a curriculum. Analysis of the data showed there were no significant differences between the participants and the non-participants in the program as it related to self-esteem, career indecision, attendance, and academic achievement. However, the rich dialogue that occurred throughout the program allowed the researcher to examine the working quality of the program in progress. The modifications and improvements made to the e-mentoring process will provide an excellent foundation for future e-mentoring programs.

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