Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Samuel D. McQuillin

Abstract

Most youth form relationships with extra-familial adults, sometimes called natural mentoring relationships, and these connections appear to benefit youth in several ways. Previous research demonstrates that the presence of a mentor can positively impact student outcomes including educational expectation, educational attainment, and social success. However, little research has considered how the impact of a natural mentorship may differ based upon the role of the adult in the youth’s life. Using data from three waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, this study investigates if the role of a mentor (i.e. teacher, coach, religious leader) influences the types of benefits that adolescents gain from mentors. I used the Bayesian Additive Regression Trees (BART) model to predict domain specific outcomes in educational expectations, educational attainment, athleticism, and religiosity from the type of mentor and other covariates (e.g., base rates of academic success, fitness, religious beliefs, demographic composition). Findings indicate that the presence of an academic mentor during adolescence predicts increased educational attainment during young adulthood. Other types of mentors, such as athletic mentors or religious mentors, did not have significant impacts in terms of increasing athleticism or religiosity in young adulthood. These results suggest that academic mentors may have more longitudinal impacts on student success than other types of mentors.

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