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It’s Not You, it’s My Schedule: An Exploratory Study of Early Termination in School-Based Mentoring Programs

By Samantha Burton


Formal mentoring programs match mentors with mentees in an effort to improve youth outcomes in a variety of areas (e.g. academic, psychosocial, psychological, behavioral). However, youth can be negatively affected when matches terminate earlier than anticipated, i.e. before the end date agreed upon at the start of the program. Past research has demonstrated the detrimental outcomes for youth in early terminating relationships (Grossman & Rhodes, 2002). Few studies, however, have addressed the factors accounting for early termination. The current study examined mentors’ explanations for early terminations, using data from a national evaluation of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) school-based mentoring (SBM) programs. The frequency with which mentors indicate certain reasons for early match closure was investigated, as well as whether each reason for termination was associated with specific program, match, mentor, and mentee characteristics. Two main reasons for termination emerged: changes in mentors’ schedules and lack of mentee interest in the match. Mentors were more likely to cite scheduling conflicts when they rated mentoring program quality as lower. This indicates that more may have contributed to the end of the match than just scheduling issues, and could reflect dissatisfaction with program policies, level of support, or effectiveness of training on the part of mentors who indicated this reason for termination. Emotional engagement and relationship quality ratings from youth and mentors were lower for early terminating matches that ended because mentors reported that their mentees did not have enough interest in the match. Mentors who perceive a lack of commitment on the part of their mentees may find it difficult to remain committed to the match. These findings advance our understanding of intergenerational relationship difficulties and have important implications for preventing early termination and the negative outcomes that result. Future research should examine how to improve matching criteria and pre-match training to promote longer lasting and greater quality mentoring relationships

Topics: mentoring, Psychology
Publisher: ScholarWorks at UMass Boston
Year: 2017
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