RANDOMIZED EVALUATION OF AN INSTRUMENTAL SCHOOL-BASED MENTORING PROGRAM FOR FIRST AND SECOND YEAR MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS
Although youth mentoring is popular in the United States, and beginning to gain popularity in other countries, dissemination efforts have preceded the establishment of a strong evidence-base for this service. This is particularly true in mentoring programs that are based in schools, which constitutes the most popular form of mentoring. While many forms of mentoring exist, the proposed study involves a school-based mentoring program that targets academic enablers through an instrumental mentoring curriculum. The first portion of this dissertation will offer an overview of youth mentoring by providing (a) a definition of youth mentoring, (b) the rational for using mentors in schools to promote academic and life success, (c) an overview of mentoring typologies, which distinguishes between instrumental and other forms of mentoring, (d) and a summary of the current outcome literature related to youth mentoring programs with particular emphasis on school-based mentoring programs. Based on this literature review, I propose that programmatic research that applies psychological and educational theory to mentoring policies and procedures that are subsequently rigorously evaluated is needed to achieve substantial and dependable benefits from school-based mentoring programs. Consistent with this recommendation, this the dissertation proposes a randomized efficacy trial of an innovative mentoring program that takes theory from research on academic enabling skills, social learning theory, and adolescent development and applies these to a novel transitional mentoring program for middle-school students transitioning from elementary school. The proposed trial was conducted on a sample of 134 6th and 7th grade students from a local middle-school. Pre-and post-assessments were used to evaluate changes across the semester in school connectedness, teacher connectedness, life satisfaction, grades, and behavior.