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Evaluating the long-term impacts of mentoring in secondary schools

Posted on 19 December 2016 by Margaret Anderson, Senior Researcher .
Tags: longitudinal research, young people

Our longitudinal evaluation of the Mosaic Secondary School Group Mentoring Programme highlights the perceived value of mentoring sessions for young people’s confidence, self-esteem, and life skills. How should we interpret these early positive findings? What will happen in the next stages of the research? 

Confidence, aspirations and self-efficacy are crucial to educational and professional development and success. At least, that’s the theory underpinning the Mosaic Secondary School Group Mentoring Programme. The Programme aims to increase the long-term employability of young people aged 11 to 18 who take part through linking them to supportive role models in the form of Mosaic mentors. These mentors develop and deliver mentoring sessions within the school environment.

In 2014 we began a five year project to assess the long-term effects of the Secondary School Group Mentoring Programme on young people’s confidence, employability, self-efficacy, and attainment. We have been tracking a group of young people who participated in the Programme in 2014-15, through surveys and in-depth interviews, to find out what difference it has made to their lives and their perceptions of the value of taking part.

The most recent findings, which come from the second wave of the research, highlighted that young people who participated believed the Programme was beneficial to them. They had improved levels of self-esteem, and felt more confident about going to job or university interviews, asking questions at school or college, talking to new people, trying new activities and were more confident about their future plans.

Although these findings show that the young people we spoke to generally saw the Programme as useful, it is not yet possible to say whether the improvements in confidence and self-esteem are an effect of the Programme or simply due to growing up. This is something we’ll be looking at in the next stage of the research, which is currently underway, by introducing a comparison group. This will allow us to compare the outcomes of young people who took part in the Programme with the outcomes of similar young people who did not take part. Having this evidence base is incredibly important as it allows us to say whether the Programme has met its aims. The length of the evaluation – five years – is unusual for a project of this type. It is a valuable opportunity to explore potential long-term impacts of the Programme by returning to the same groups of young people each time to follow their progress through education and into employment.  We are one step closer to understanding the importance of young people’s confidence, aspirations and self-efficacy to their educational and professional development and success. 

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