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Mentoring and Work-Based Learning

Trends and Issues Alert 29

by Bettina Lankard Brown

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This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education under Contract No. ED-99-CO-0013. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. ERIC/ACVE publications may be freely reproduced.


Workplace mentoring has been identified as an important aspect of work-based learning in projects conducted under the School-to-Work Opportunities Act. By establishing relationships with caring and competent adults who can provide emotional support and facilitate skill development, less-experienced youth and adults are more likely to bridge the gap between school and work. Workplace mentoring requires a partnership commitment that involves time, energy, and resources of qualified mentors, school personnel, and learners themselves. As in other endeavors, workplace mentoring requires planning, training, monitoring, and assessment to ensure that the individuals being mentored will achieve successful outcomes.

The role of mentoring in work-based learning and the key issues involved in successful implementation can be identified in the materials summarized in this Trends and Issues Alert. Various approaches and uses of mentoring in the workplace are described in these resources. Among the key issues that have been addressed to varying degrees through work-based learning efforts that involve mentoring are (Workplace Mentors 1996)-

  • The establishment of a mentor's recruitment plan
  • Eligibility screening for mentors and students
  • Training for mentors and those to be mentored
  • Matching students with mentors
  • A monitoring process and a process for providing ongoing support and training
  • Closure steps

The following resources provide techniques and strategies for incorporating mentoring into work-based learning activities.


Bond, A. Student Mentoring: Promoting High Achievement and Low Attrition in Education and Training. Leabrook, Australia: National Centre for Vocational Education Research, 1999. (ED 433 426)

This report provides comprehensive details about mentoring and strategies educators can follow to improve student learning. Chapter 1 defines mentoring and provides a rationale for introducing it as a strategy for improving student learning outcomes. Chapter 2 examines the role of the mentor and mentoring models currently used in education. Chapter 3 contains case study examples of various mentoring practices and their effect on student learning. Chapter 4 discusses mentoring as a solution to concerns about traditional learning practice. Chapter 5 details ways that mentoring can contribute to a better learning environment.

Broeker, A. M. Module for Business, Management, and Technology Career Path. Columbia: Instructional Materials Laboratory, University of Missouri, 1997. (ED 419 917)

This module presents a variety of work-based learning information and strategies. It highlights ways in which mentoring experiences contribute to the development of career path, technology, and communication skills.

Chadwick, S. "Facilitating the Progression of Modern Apprentices into Undergraduate Business Education." Education + Training 41, no. 5 (1999): 227-235.

This article highlights mentoring relationships as a key factor in a program designed to give apprentices access to undergraduate business education at a British university. Offered in cooperation with a local chamber of commerce, the program identified mentoring relationship as one of three major factors in its apprenticeship effort.

Di Benedetto, V. El Paso Community College Women in Technology End of the Year Report, 1998-1999. El Paso, TX: El Paso Community College, 1999. (ED 435 429)

Established to recruit women into nontraditional occupations, the Women in Technology program at El Paso Community College identified mentoring as one of its strategies for success. The importance of using mentoring that involves successful female community role models is highlighted.

Dusseldorp, T. The Central Coast Mentor Program 1998: A Partnership between Berkeley Vale High School & Wyong TAFE. A report prepared for the Dusseldorp Skills Forum, 1999.

A program designed for unemployed adults of the Central Coast of Australia highlights ways that mentoring is used to enhance the skills and self-esteem of both mentors and learners. By engaging unemployed adults as mentors of 9- and 10-year old students, the program provided the students with one-on-one support and motivation from caring adults and the unemployed adults with a role in the broader community.

Gray, W. W. Mentoring for School to Work: Fostering Student Success. Madison: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 1997. (ED 414 440)

Directed to teachers and administrators who are interested in preparing and teaching workplace mentors as part of the school-to-work program, this handbook addresses three main topics: mentoring of young learners, Wisconsin's work-based learning programs, and mentoring activities, examples, and checklists designed to help mentors.

Gray, W. W., and Albrecht, B. Mentoring Youth for Success. Madison: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 1999. (ED 438 953)

This report describes the partnership of Wisconsin business and industry with the public education system. It describes the establishment of mentoring relationships and suggests roles for all stakeholders in this work-based learning strategy. The guidebook is divided into three sections. One is devoted to mentoring and describes learning style differences, mentor-student relationships, roles, and responsibilities, and communication strategies. The second describes work-based learning and the options that are available in Wisconsin. A third section includes lesson topics and relevant forms

Hughes, K. L., and Moore, D. T. Pedagogical Strategies for Work-Based Learning. IEE Working Paper No. 12. New York: Institute on Education and the Economy, Columbia University, 1999. (ED 436 667)

One pedagogical factor associated with successful work-based learning programs is a mentor/supervisor who provides clear advice and feedback, sometimes during the work process and sometimes off task, calculated to help students understand the environment and their role in it. The mentor tends to be more supportive of the student's learning and development than a mere supervisor would be.

The Mentoring Match, Teacher's Guide to Action. School to Work. Albany: Two Year College Development Center, State University of New York, 1997. (ED 415 365)

This guide is directed to teachers who are interested in starting a workplace mentoring program. It provides information about mentors and strategies for matching them with students, the benefits of mentoring, mentoring program outcomes, and partners. Steps to establish, administer, and build mentoring programs are also presented.

Morrow, C. A., and Fredin, B., eds. Worksite Mentoring Guidebook: Practical Help for Planning and Implementing Quality Worksite Learning Experiences. Columbus: Vocational Instructional Materials Lab, the Ohio State University, 1999. (ED 427 178)

This guidebook was developed to help businesses provide high-quality worksite learning experiences for students. It provides information to assist educators in (1) developing a high-quality mentoring program; (2) recruiting, training, and supporting worksite mentors; (3) planning and implementing worksite learning experiences; and (4) evaluation. The appendix contains information about the fundamentals of worksite mentoring :communication tools, understanding the audience, learning, legal issues, involving unions, and equity issues.

Nachtrieb, P., and Vore, S. Work-Based Learning for All! Work-Based Learning Development Handbook. Springfield: Illinois State Board of Education, 1999. (ED 449 303)

This handbook includes information, strategies, and techniques for developing and implementing successful work-based learning experiences. Section V identifies connecting activities and specifically defines mentoring, supplies a mentoring application and forms needed for mentoring experiences, and provides information regarding nontraditional activities in work-based learning.

O'Hara, P., and Cameron-Jones, M. "Challenge and Support for Work-Based Learning." Studies in the Education of Adults 29, no. 2 (October 1997): 169-178.

Trainers/teachers in eight occupational areas identified the strategies they used to challenge or support workplace learners. Military trainers of adults tended toward challenge; higher education mentors tended toward support.

Rhoder, C., and French, J. N. "School-to-Work: Making Specific Connections." Phi Delta Kappan 80, no. 7 (March 1999): 533- 542.

Describes a work-based learning program initiated through the collaborative effort of White Plains High School, the Westchester Urban Youth Council, several Westchester County government agencies, and the School of Education at Pace University. Five case studies are presented to illustrate how program goals were achieved via individualized apprenticeship plans developed for each student.

Scannell, L. California Partnership Academy Mentor Handbook. Sacramento: California Department of Education, 1998.

This handbook is designed to help community volunteer mentors understand their role, give them an idea of what to expect, and learn how to make the mentoring relationship an effective one.

South Carolina School-to-Work Implementation Guide for Work-Based Learning. School-to-Work Opportunities. Columbia: Office of Occupational Education, South Carolina State Department of Education, 1999. (ED 436 672)

This guide includes an introduction to school-to-work benefits and components, registered and youth apprenticeships, cooperative education, internship, service learning, shadowing, and mentoring. Section 7 defines mentoring and its purpose and offers strategies for implementation and monitoring students' mentoring experiences.

Talbert, B. A.; Larke, A., Jr.; and Jones, W. A. "Using a Student Organization to Increase Participation and Success of Minorities in Agricultural Disciplines." Peabody Journal of Education 74, no. 2 (1999): 90-104.

The Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences Program works to recruit and retain minority students in agricultural majors through a variety of enrichment experiences. The program fosters mentoring partnerships between minority agriculture and natural-resource college students and professionals from academia, government, and business.

Taylor, J. C. Learning at Work in a Work-Based Welfare System: Opportunities and Obstacles. Lessons from the School-to-Work Experience. Boston, MA: Jobs for the Future, 1997. (ED 410 470)

This document describes studies conducted by Jobs for the Future. It relates key lessons learned through school-to-work experiences in a work-based welfare system. It identifies major areas of need for mentors who work with welfare recipients to help them get jobs: (1) technical assistance in the provision and support of learning at work, and (2) better integration of work-based learning with the mainstream educational system.

Tobin, L. Mentoring: Benchmarks for Effective and Responsible Mentoring Programs. Dusseldorf Skills Forum, 2000.

The following eight core program elements are described in this document: (1) statement of program purpose, (2) program plan, (3) written policies and procedures to address rights, responsibilities, etc., (4) recruitment and selection processes, (5) mentor training, (6) mentor/mentee matching and monitoring, (7) mentor/mentee support, and (8) closure policy.

Wheeldon, R. S., and Lehmann, J. P. "Establishing a Telementoring Program that Can Be Used in Vocational Classes." Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education 21, no. 3 (Spring 1999): 32-37.

Shows how telementoring can enhance work-based learning in this description of a partnership between a large computer-based company and a school-to-work transition class in a small rural high school.

Workplace Mentors in School-to-Work Systems. Resource Bulletin. Washington, DC: National School-to-Work Opportunities Office, 1996. (ED 407 527)

This bulletin reviews key issues related to mentoring. It provides information about the Rochester, New York, school-to-work mentoring initiative and the Hospital Youth Mentoring Program administered by Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Links updated: 4/17/02


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