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Educational Leadership Program for Undergraduates

Info: 7683 words (31 pages) Dissertation
Published: 7th Sep 2021

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Tagged: EducationLeadership


This paper discusses the proposal and redevelopment of an educational leadership mentoring program across first year undergraduate higher education. It is presented as a case study for Foundations of Educational Leadership.


In order to provide the reader a setting of this program, it is first necessary provide some background. The context is higher education: first year spatial design (architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and product design) in undergraduate education in a large Australian university.

Historically, there has been a long record within the spatial design disciplines where the application of theory is deeply embedded in creative practices such as exploratory processes through making and then presenting ideas to industry representatives for (often unforgiving) critique and feedback; this is known as an “architectural jury” or more commonly in Australia, the “design crit” (Oh, Ishizaki, Gross and Do, 2013; Ellis and Meneely, 2015; Archnet, 2014), where the student presents their assignments to a small or large ‘panel’ of ‘experts’ who then provide a critique of the work. Staff use this as a form of teaching students the “harsh reality of design practice”[1]. Visual examples of this practice can be seen here[2], and an excellent overview of issues in architectural education is well-explained by Lueth (2008).

The ‘crit’ is well-known by spatial design teaching staff and students, and is globally dreaded by students[3].  This form of teaching and assessment is the cornerstone of art and spatial design (architectural) education worldwide and one of the many art and design school rituals that were developed by the French system in the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts in Paris (School of Fine Arts) in 1795. The crit is a ‘defence’ of ideas, drawings, and models in an open forum in front of guests, teachers and fellow students; it is intended for the foundation for healthy debate, however, many students consider it a hostile confrontation between teaching staff and individual student which is generally an ego ‘trip’ for staff but public humiliation for the student. In many cases, this occurs in either an implicit or explicit manner, and it is not without good cause that students are often intimidated during this process. This type of assessment and learning is unique to the arts and spatial design disciplines and has been criticised extensively within the past several decades due to its “old school” approach and often unnecessarily harsh feedback. Despite this, it is still very actively utilised in spatial design education.

Conceptual framework

Overall, I found the feedback contributed greatly to further clarification and grounding this program/case study in scholarly led educational and organisational theories. I unquestionably found the group’s feedback about the frames being unclear to be very useful, personally and professionally. Taking this into account, it shall be the first point that I will address. This discussion will be situated in the context of Bolman and Deal’s (2013) text: Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership.

It is with good intent that, as an academic leader, I have developed such programs in my organisation, and have been fortunate enough to be acknowledged through such initiatives, but if I am to be completely honest, I’d never heard of Bolman and Deal, let alone any other leadership theories. After more than a decade of academic leadership where I have been put into such a role without being any the wiser about educational leadership, it has not come to me as a surprise to read what Bogue (1994) calls a “flawed vision of role” in his somewhat tongue-in-cheek statement:

There are academic cheerleaders, looking for the parade so that they can get in front. There are status fondlers worrying only about the appearance of their calling card. There are information wizards inundated with computer reports and electronic mail addresses. There are educational firemen occupied with crises of their own making. There are trivia worshipers checking forms in stock and occupying their time and energy with the minutia of their unit or campus, enamored of technique but devoid of vision. There are academic mannequins veneered in status but empty of passion and caring. And there are leadership amateurs attempting to guide a precious enterprise with fluffy and empty notions about the content of their work (Bogue, 1994, p. 9)

Although my intent in leading has been for the ‘greater good’ of those I lead, and my mantra is fundamentally to be empathetic, up to now, there is probably more than a little truth in me being guilty of what Bogue labels as leadership amateurs. I have generally, good intent for the betterment of others in teaching and learning, but in entering academia, like many of my peers in higher education, I did not set out to be a program coordinator, a discipline leader, and now, in one of my roles as a dean for a higher education provider. I did not participate in any formal training or professional development programs in preparation for any of these positions; it “just happened”, and I was expected to play the role of ‘academic leader’.

So why is organisational theory important, if many people in higher education can get promoted to senior management successfully without ever having known these theories? It should be noted, however, that in this statement, ‘success’ is indeed an elastic measure; what is one individual’s success can easily be another’s failure, and there are many examples of individuals speaking out on leadership issues in the higher education space[4] [5].

Taking on board any conversation about higher education leadership (or issues concerning it) and given the increasingly complex issues in the sector, it is apparent that each level of academic leadership brings with it new challenges. Every leadership role is shaped not only by the individual holding the position but also by the culture of the institution; many scholars argue that there is a relationship between success or failure of elements of an institution and the leadership of the institution (Leih and Teece 2016). According to Chaffee and Tierney (1988), effective leadership involves planning and adaptation, interpreting and communicating institutional values, and understanding organisational processes (Chaffee and Tierney, 1988).

A literature search proves that there is a plethora of research and theory about leadership and organisational leadership (i.e. Bass, 1990; Bolman and Deal, 2013; McCauley, Moxley, and Van Velsor, 1998). Rost (1993) discovered over 200 different definitions and conceptions of leadership, and whilst some definitions were narrow, others provided broader conceptions. Bass (2000, 2008) undertook a similar literature search and concluded that a single definition of leadership was fruitless; a “correct” definition of leadership depends on the specific aspect of leadership that is of interest to the individual (Bass, 2008). In a brief overview of all the leadership theories, there are a number of generalised classifications:

  • Great Man Theory
  • Trait Theory
  • Behavioural Theories
    • Role Theory
    • The Managerial Grid
  • Participative Leadership
    • Lewin’s leadership styles
    • Likert’s leadership styles
  • Situational Leadership
    • Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership
    • Vroom and Yetton’s Normative Model
    • House’s Path-Goal Theory of Leadership
  • Contingency Theories
    • Fiedler’s Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) Theory
    • Cognitive Resource Theory
    • Strategic Contingencies Theory
  • Management Theories – Transactional Leadership
    • Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory
  • Relationship Theories: Transformational Leadership
    • Bass’ Transformational Leadership Theory
    • Burns’ Transformational Leadership Theory
    • Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Participation Inventory
  • Adaptive Theories
    • Women’s Transformative Leadership
    • Multicultural Theory

Great Man theories assume that an individual’s capacity for leadership is inherent – great leaders are born, not made; the Great Man theories often depicted ‘great leaders’ as heroic, mythic, and destined to rise to leadership when needed. That term was used as at the time, leadership was considered primarily as a male quality. Trait theories are somewhat similar to Great Man theories in that certain individuals inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to leadership. Trait theories often identify particular personality or behavioural characteristics shared by leaders. However, the core question that raises difficulties to explain this theory is that if particular traits are key features of leadership, how do we explain people who possess those qualities but are not leaders?

Behavioural theories are also similar to the above two theories in that they are based upon the belief that great leaders are made, not born. This leadership theory focuses on the actions of leaders, not on mental qualities or internal states. According to this theory, people can learn to become leaders through teaching and observation. Participative theories suggest that the ideal leadership style is one that takes into account the input of other individuals. These leaders encourage participation and contributions from group members and help group members feel more relevant and committed to the decision-making process. In participative theories, however, the leader retains the right to allow the input of others.

Situational leadership theories propose that leaders choose the best course of action based upon situational variable. Different styles of leadership may be more appropriate for certain types of decision-making. Hersey and Blanchard (1969) proposed that leadership is situational, which is where the Situational Leadership (SL) theory began. It argues that effective leadership requires a rational understanding of the situation and an appropriate response, rather than a charismatic leader with a large group of dedicated followers (Hersey and Blanchard, 1969). Opponents of this theory were primarily Nicholls (1985) and Bass (2008) who argued that in the SL model, there was a ‘lack of internal consistency, [and there are] conceptual contradictions, and ambiguities’ (Nicholls, 1985; Bass, 2008; Glynn and DeJordy, 2010).

Contingency theories of leadership focus on particular variables related to the environment that determine which particular style of leadership is best suited for the situation. According to this theory, no leadership style is best in all situations. Success depends upon a number of variables, including the leadership style, qualities of the followers, and aspects of the situation.

Management theories (also known as transactional theories) focus on the role of supervision, organisation, and group performance, and base leadership on a system of reward and punishment. Managerial theories are often used in business; when employees are successful, they are rewarded; when they fail, they are reprimanded or punished. The Transactional Leadership (TcL) model focuses on ‘exchanges’ (or ‘transactions’) that happen between leaders and subordinates (Bass, 1985, 2000, 2008; Burns, 1978) where these ‘exchanges’ “maintain the current organizational situation, motivate followers through contractual agreement, direct behavior of followers toward achievement of established goals, emphasize extrinsic rewards, avoid unnecessary risks, and focus on improve organizational efficiency” (McCleskey, 2014, p.122). However, Burns (1978) asserts that TcL practices can lead subordinate staff into short-term relationships with the leader; these ‘transactions’ tend to be shallow, which in turn, leads to resentment between the parties. There are a number of researchers who criticise TcL theory because it gives preference to a “one-size-fits-all” approach that neglects situational and contextual factors related to organisational challenges (Beyer, 1999; Yukl, 1999; 2011; Yukl and Mahsud, 2010).

Relationship theories (also known as transformational theories) focus upon the connections formed between leaders and followers. These leaders motivate and inspire people by helping group members see the importance and higher good of the task. Transformational leaders are focused on the performance of group members, but also want each person to fulfil his or her potential. These leaders often have high ethical and moral standards. Bass (1985) is considered to be the ‘reformer’ of early Transformational Leadership (TfL) theory. Transformational leaders aspire and work to enhance motivation and engagement of their subordinates by directing their behaviour toward a shared vision. These leaders focus on the role of supervision, organisation, and group performance. There are essentially four components of TfL: idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualised consideration combine to make leaders ‘transformational figures’ (Bass, 1985). Yukl (1999) was an opponent of TfL arguing that the underlying mechanism of leader influence at work in TfL was unclear and that little empirical work existed examining the effect of TfL on work groups, teams, or organisations.

More recently, there adaptive theory has emerged in the leadership space, where leadership is a process of mobilising people to tackle complex problems; leadership can be earned and can come from anywhere in an organisation or a community. Yukl and Mahsud (2010) argue that the need for adaptive leadership is becoming more important as the pace of change dramatically increases. The 21st century has brought with it significant complexities in leadership with “increased globalization and international commerce, rapid technological change, changing cultural values, a more diverse workforce, more use of outsourcing, new forms of social networking, increased use of visual interactions, more visibility of leader actions, and concerns for outcomes besides profits” (Yukl and Mahsud, 2010, p.81).

As discussed below, there are a number of issues in higher education which have driven the pace of change. These include tuition, student debt, government funding, changing demands of consumers, and technological advances (Brewer and Tierney, 2012). There is no shortage of national and international critique and debate about higher education institutions being slow to change and adopt new strategies, and many external factors have forced the industry to answer the call for more innovation.  Christenson and Eyring (2011), Selingo (2013), Zemsky (2013) and Brewer and Tierney (2012) suggest that higher education institutions must adopt innovations to survive in this complex and turbulent environment. The capacity to respond to these looming challenges is dependent on the strength and adaptability of leadership within these institutions. It is within this context that adaptive theory is highly relevant.

Adaptive leadership was first proposed by Heifetz (1994), who called for a new form of leadership that promoted the adaptive capacities of people, versus addressing problems through hierarchical authority, and the focus is on the leader’s role to mobilise followers to “tackle tough challenges and thrive” (Heifetz et al., 2009b, p. 14).  This theory differs from the above theories in that it emphasises the behaviours of adaptive leaders versus specific leadership traits or characteristics (Northouse, 2016); the behaviours of adaptive leaders should encourage followers to tackle and solve challenges through mobilisation, motivation, organisation, and focusing attention (Heifetz, 1994).

Women’s transformative theory is inherently relational versus transactional. This theory believes in transparency, responsiveness, accountability and ethics. Finally, the multicultural theory acknowledges and strengthens power in self and others. It fosters the ability to imagine, envision and create new realities. It engages in understanding and halting the cycle of oppression on a number of levels. Personally, I feel that my leadership style echoes elements of these final two theories. As a timeline, the above theories can be seen visually as such:

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Leadership theories timeline

The types and characteristics of leadership listed above are just several of the many different organisational theories, frameworks, models, and metaphors in the empirical literature that provide guidance to leaders in education, assisting them to handle dilemmas in each situation or context. Despite what leadership theory or framework, it is essential to remember that considering an issue from one perspective or paradigm may not help understand the situation or solve a problem. Being aware of different perspectives, theories and frameworks assists in seeing through another lens, bringing new angles and solutions to the organisational matters when they are needed (Bell, Warwick and Galbraith, 2012; Harris and Nelson, 2008).

Relevant to this study, according to Hunt (2013)[6] leadership in schools requires a vision, which in turn assists in a sense of belonging, and inspires staff to take action; supports staff through empowerment, which requires transparency, investing time, professional development, and provides recognition to staff; and finally, facilitates collaboration, innovation and problem solving. This depiction holds similar elements to the aspirations in this case study.

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Effective leadership in schools (Hunt, 2013)

Gigliotti and Ruben (2017) state that given the myriad issues in higher education today, there is an urgent need to highlight the need for empirically led leadership development, and this also aligns with research by Bolman and Gallos (2011); Buller (2014) and Ruben, De Lisi, and Gigliotti (2017). In fact, Gigliotti and Ruben (2017) argue that due to “the privatization of higher education, the “crisis” of the academic profession, demands for greater accountability, challenges to student access, and the need for more agile and innovative change in the face of a rapidly shifting and competitive global economy are not limited to U.S. colleges and universities…these challenges are relevant to all institutions of higher education and they demand global leadership attention” (Gigliotti and Ruben, 2017, p.97).

In a further argument for the pressing need for leadership development, Ruben, De Lisi, and Gigliotti (2017) state that:

There may have been a time when being a leader in one’s discipline or technical area was sufficient preparation for academic or administrative leadership within a college or university. Those times are gone. Today’s leader must have a broad understanding of the higher education landscape, an array of organizational and leadership concepts and tools, and the professional and personal competencies necessary to translate these capabilities into practice on a routine basis (Ruben, De Lisi, and Gigliotti, 2017).

Given that leadership development initiatives have long been recognised as critical to the success of industries including the military, healthcare, government departments, and small and large businesses, with a relatively recent estimation that American corporations spend nearly $160 billion annually on training and development programs (Association for Talent Development, 2015), this issue is seen as increasingly important by many in higher education. A recent examination into higher education leadership education by Gigliotti (2017) identified that (in the US at least) there is a perceived lack of formal education programs available to those with academic or administrative leadership responsibilities (Gigliotti, 2017).

However, rather than immediately categorising this case study/program as an overall “either/or” situation where a choice should be made between the human resource or symbolic frame, further discussion needs to include the ‘multiframe’ element. As discussed in Bolman and Deal: “Multiframe thinking requires moving beyond narrow, mechanical approaches for understanding organizations” (Bolman and Deal, 2008, p.19). As this study is set in a public higher education context, there are certain boundaries, rules, policies and procedures that teaching and learning must operate within. This means that in certain contexts, the structural frame should be utilised, even if I do not view the world through a primarily ‘structural’ frame. The same can also be said for the political frame.

As suggested by Bolman and Deal (2013), a leader should be able to move in and out of the four frames, depending on the context. The ability to which a leader can utilise any – and all – of these frames at any given time, can indicate the individual’s success or failure as a leader in higher education. Sharing tasks, empowering and mentoring others, and cooperative management as well as having the ability to move easily within each of these frames at any given time is necessary in successful leadership (Portugal, 2006).

An understanding of the four frames in this context will assist the mentor in the analysis of issues and in contemplating well-thought-out strategies for action.

In higher education leadership and mentoring programs, it is necessary to note replicability in terms of design and outcomes of these programs. Although mentoring programs are valuable and successful in higher education, many of these programs have been adopted or imitated from other institutions. For example, student well-being programs are not a new concept. A large-scale student well-being program has recently been successfully implemented at University of Melbourne[7] where the author of this program was a significant contributor; that study utilised a predominately human resource frame. However, the program proposed in this case study will provide vastly different results because the transferability is significantly affected by differences in purpose and organisational culture. For example, this case study/program may be highly contextual to the spatial design disciplines but possibly irrelevant to a business degree teaching context.

Added to this complexity are the layers of politics that are often implicit within academic departments. To be an effective leader requires the avoidance of exercising autonomous power and it is important that aspiring leaders have a clear understanding of who has the authority and/ or responsibility for decision-making, as well as respecting the roles of various groups and constituents (managers, staff, students, etc) fundamental to the process and organisation.

In this case study/program, it is important that I should consider who to consult – formally and informally – about how and when to bring about change. Without consultation with the legitimate stakeholders in goal setting and decision-making, improved practice may not follow, no matter how successful the program may be. Without visible respect and empathy for multiple individuals who undertake various roles on a number of levels, the proposal of this program may be pointless.

It is well-known within higher education institutions, the number of formal positions of academic leadership are limited; often management is prioritised over leadership, which fails to tap into the vision and commitment of individuals aspiring to excellence in teaching and learning, which is the overall goal of the program in this case study. Although this program aspires to bring about positive change for teachers and students in higher education, I also need to align with, and ensure a deft handling of policy and legislative requirements, understand the reality of complex and layered organisations, the inevitability of politics, and a recognition of the overwhelming importance of “rank and file” – “stepping on toes” is often an unforgivable and not-forgotten mistake in larger public organisations. This is where the structural and structural frames are useful and critical to utilise.

Whilst some leaders may be seemingly natural born to the role – “the skills required of a leader can be identified, learned, and practiced” (Morris, 2016, p.2) it is critical that leaders should know essential theories on leadership which explain and predict, serving as frameworks for making sense of the world around them. These frameworks help to organise diverse forms and sources of information, and allows the leader to take informed action. Fundamentally, knowing how to frame the context and utilise that frame to bring judgement to reframe and then make decisions. An example of issues and areas of investigation in relation to frames are sent out in the below table.

Frame Potential issues and areas to investigate 
Structural Rules, regulations, goals, policies, roles, tasks, job designs, job descriptions, technology, environment, chain of command, vertical and horizontal coordinating mechanisms, assessment and reward systems, standard operating procedures, authority spans and structures, spans of control, specialisation/division of labour, information systems, formal feedback loops, boundary scanning and management processes
Human resource Needs, skills, relationships, norms, perceptions and attitudes, morale, motivation, training and development, interpersonal and group dynamics, supervision, teams, job satisfaction, participation and involvement, informal organisation, support, respect for diversity, formal and informal leadership
Political Key stakeholders, divergent interests, scarce resources, areas of uncertainty, individual and group agendas, sources and bases of power, power distributions, formal and informal resource allocation systems and processes, influence, conflict, competition, “politicking”, coalitions, formal and informal alliances and networks, interdependence, control of rewards and punishment, informal communication channels
Symbolic Culture, rituals, ceremonies, stories, myths, symbols, metaphors, meaning, spirituality, values, vision, charisma, passions and commitments

Frames, issues and areas for investigation


Framing through a certain lens makes clear what the aims of the program are, and the core philosophical lens through which people operate and act. As this case study uses a predominant human resources and symbolic lens, cultivating empathic awareness is an expression of inclusivity and becomes a transferable skill that powerfully affects the mentor and mentee’s other working relationships. Framing helps to challenge the individual to view institutions, contexts, and people through different lenses to come to an understanding of alternate ways of knowing – both within and external to the teaching and learning context.

Reframing is “the practice of deliberately and systematically examining a complex situation from multiple perspectives” and is a skill that “requires both deep knowledge of alternative frames and practice in applying them to make frame-flipping second nature“ (Gallos, 2006, p.13). Bolman and Deal (2013) agree: “Frames offer the advantage of multiple angles to size up the situation. What’s really going on here? What options do you have? What script does the situation demand? How might you reinterpret the scene to create a more effective scenario? Reframing is a powerful tool in a tough situation for generating possibilities other than fight or flight” (Bolman and Deal, 2013, p.328).

When reframing, it is important for me to understand alternative perspectives and have an “appreciation for their potential contribution, opportunities to practice looking at the same situation through multiple lenses, and strategies for cross-frame diagnosis and reflection” (Gallos, 2006, p.13). Reframing will assist me in building a better understanding of the complete picture; it will help me recognise context and contribution of each frame and allow me, as a leader in this program, balance and identify areas and issues that are often ignored.

Case study focus

Once the predominant frame was made clear, the focus of the case study was clarified, and confusing elements were removed. The refined case study now aims to develop teaching and learning leadership skills through mentorship. Embedded as a foundation of the program for this case study is raising awareness and creating strategic links between industry and educators in the spatial design industry, as can be seen here.

Case study focus

Further feedback suggested that this mentor leadership preparation program should have the explicit intent to “produce leaders” with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to lead others to effect real change (Milstein, 1992, p.10). This aligns with Robinson, Hohepa and Lloyd (2009) who argue that educational leadership is “leadership that causes others to do things that can be expected to improve educational outcomes for students” (Robinson et al.,2009, p. 70).

Heeding Bolman and Deal’s (2013) principals of leadership, the program focus should make clear elements of leadership that are situational (context dependent), relational (a relationship is necessary between leader and followers), and distinct from position (not synonymous with authority or high position) and should be a “process of mutual influence that fuses thought, feeling, and action to produce cooperative effort in the service of the purpose and values of both leader and followers” (Gallos, 2009, p.1).

In response to, and reflecting and thinking critically about this program, I should also consider my own position where, acting as a change agent, I have an opportunity, but also an “obligation to make schools and classrooms very different learning communities from those that came before” (Gless, 2006, p.175). It is stated in the introduction of this paper, but it is not so apparent in the proposal provided for feedback; this intent should be made explicit in a well-structured program that seeks to address issues in design education.

In embedding this program into a highly structured and political environment such as a university, I need to acknowledge that my role lies in heart of the political landscape, requiring the negotiation of resources, championing of social justice, supporting mentees when they are being wronged by the system or the culture, finding a position that helps the mentees learn despite (sometimes) difficult environments, and learning to balance what they can and cannot influence (Lieberman, Hanson and Gless, 2012, p. 5).

Successful leadership development programs should focus on the self-transformation of participants into competent, effective leaders, so this program (case study) should take into context the necessity of changing both the profession and culture (within the classroom context and the organisation or discipline), comprising of language, attitudes, behaviours, perspectives and skills of the developing leaders, as well as their conceptual, personal and educational orientations (Browne-Ferrigno and Muth, 2004). This aligns with Robinson (2004) who suggests that the primary characteristics of educational leaders include a willingness to work in innovative and transformative ways that will enhance learning opportunities, an ability to engage in critical reflection, and enthusiasm and energy (Robinson, 2004). Stoll, Fink and Earl (2003) agree, suggesting that in order to be effective, educational leaders “are continuously open to new learning because the journey keeps changing” (Stoll et al., 2003, p.103). Further to this, what is necessary for educational leaders includes:

  • having a deep understanding of the learning process (which is, in this case, understanding how to teach the create process);
  • fostering connections between people in the learning community (which is connecting industry partners with academics and students);
  • thinking about the future (considering new ways of teaching graduates of the future);
  • thinking critically;
  • having political acumen; and
  • having emotional understanding (Stoll et al., 2003).

Considering the frame and multiframe context, other frameworks are also necessary to consider. For example, mentoring takes many forms and structuring such programs require examination and application of certain frameworks as discussed below.

Mentoring frameworks

After exploring the literature on mentoring frameworks, it is obvious that there are a large number of taxonomies or frameworks to clarify what mentoring means, and what mentoring means in practice.

According to the National Academy of Sciences (1997), mentoring is “an aspect of professional education and career training in which a relatively more senior and experienced person (the mentor) and a more junior person (the mentee) join in a collaborative and personal relationship in which the mentor guides the mentee so as to enhance career success” (National Academy of Sciences 1997)[8]. In terms of the types of mentoring models, there are approximately six broad categories, ranging from formal to informal. This graphic provides a basic summary of the types, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. For this case study, the group mentoring type will be utilised.

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Types of mentoring models

Mentoring as a learning process has been utilised across a variety of disciplines including business (D’Abate and Eddy 2008) and medicine and nursing (Sambunjak, Straus and Marusic, 2006). There are many taxonomies or frameworks that focus on school teacher mentoring, such as Glover, Gough, Johnson, Mardle, and Taylor (1994) or academic to student mentoring. There are many examples of traditional mentoring, in which a mentee is guided and supervised by a mentor in a certain setting such as practice, field, or laboratory, has been widely applied across many areas (i.e., for medicine and science).

Mentoring can be interpreted in a variety of ways; it is often used interchangeably with the terms coaching, specialist and co-coaching. All three can be about sharing certain areas of expertise and knowledge that the mentee needs; as well as about developing the individual – whether or not they work in the same area or discipline. Specialist coaching is a structured process for enabling the development of a specific aspect of a professional learner’s practice, and co-coaching is a structured, sustained process between two or more professional learners to enable them to embed new knowledge and skills from specialist sources in day-to-day practice.

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description generated with high confidence

Related mentoring terms and benefits

Based on my own experience of being mentored at my previous workplace[9], the following types of mentoring used in academic areas include:

Type Details
Induction mentoring
  • A mentor assigned to a new member of staff, to help orientate the individual to the department and its procedures, policies, personnel, sources of help and information, location of key equipment — and to help the individual ‘survive’ the first few weeks in a new post.
  • They may act as a neutral and impartial confidante for any concerns or difficulties the individual may have in settling down, and help the individual to work out strategies for success.
  • Generally they will not be someone in direct authority over the individual, and usually someone from outside the individual’s immediate circle is found, though preferably doing a similar or related role.
Peer mentoring
  • As the individual progresses, colleagues can ‘peer-mentor’ each other either in particular areas (such as teaching observation or project management) or for general support.
  • Peer mentoring should still be about progress and development, and be equally supportive of each partner.
  • Peer mentors should hold each other accountable for their action plans, and help each other to achieve their goals.
Developmental mentoring
  • The individual’s mentoring needs evolve in line with increased responsibility. The individual may have new duties, taken on new roles, been promoted.
  • Developmental mentoring is about the synergy that two (or more) people can create between them to generate solutions, strategies and action plans, to build on success.
  • Mentoring provides individuals with role models and may be a means of providing information about career and training opportunities (internal and external).
  • Mentoring widens the support network, provides motivation and can improve confidence.
  • With developmental mentoring, an experienced mentor helps the individual to develop their strengths and potential, and identify their changing needs, values, aspirations, and what’s most important to them.
  • The mentor works with the individual to plan ther professional development, and their next career steps.

Types of academic mentoring[10]

For higher education, there is much written about the mentoring of undergraduate students, but less about the mentoring of sessional academics. As Darwin and Palmer (2009) state:

The academic landscape is far different today than it was three decades ago when formal mentoring programs were introduced into higher education. Systems of promotion and tenure are less secure, young researchers have to win grants in order to secure ongoing employment and faculty are rewarded exclusively for funded research and publications, typically at the expense of teaching and mentoring … It is a competitive environment, where collaboration is talked about, but more difficult to act upon; where time is such a limited commodity that only projects approved and rewarded by management are undertaken.

Van der Weijden, Belder, Van Arensbergen and Van Den Besselaar (2015) state that “To become an academic more skills and qualities are required than only those that are research related, such as time management, communication, presentation, leadership, management, and networking skills) (van der Weijden et al., 2015, p.276). This aligns with a number of studies which have analysed the concept of mentoring and its fundamental elements in higher education settings (Dunn and Moody, 1995; Terrell, Hassell and Duggar, 1992; Christie, 2014; Chang, Longman and Franco, 2014; Banu, Juma and Abas, 2016; and Birch and Ristevska, 2016).

Mentoring as become increasingly important in higher education as it assists in the facilitation and integration into the culture of a program and institution, and thus aids in enhancing student learning experiences (Bell, 2016).  More directly relevant to this case study/program, Zellers, Howard, and Barcic (2008) produced a contemporary definition of mentoring as a relationship in which a mentor supports the ‘professional and personal development of another by sharing his or her experiences, influence or expertise’ (Zellers et al., 2008. p.4).

Driscoll, Parkes, Tilley-Lubbs Brill and Pitts Bannister (2009) state that mentoring in academic settings “can be differentiated by whether it is implemented in the traditional one-to-one or dyadic format or in a group format. Dyadic mentoring occurs when a senior mentor is assigned to a single protégé on the basis of common interests or when a protégé selects the senior mentor from a group of individuals. This approach assumes a protégé’s aspiration to emulate a mentor in some capacity” (Driscoll et al., 200. p.7).

In considering these frames, I am seeking to be a change agent and facilitator for design education, which is through my vision to raise awareness and create strategic links in spatial design higher education (Sarason, 2002). There are many issues in design education, and of particular concern at the moment is the complex culture within design and the creative industries, in part due to external pressures and class sizes where staff are struggling to cope with workload and student numbers. Deal and Peterson (2010a) discuss toxic school culture, where over time staff become fragmented and demoralised. The purpose of serving students is lost, and negativism and criticism dominate. This is why I also seek to build collegiality, a sense of school identity, and a democratic and inspiring school culture (Deal and Peterson, 2000, 2010b).

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