Valuing perspectives: a grounded theory of mentoring in a distance education environment.
Bochke, Sharon L.
MetadataShow full item record
The majority of research on mentoring that has been conducted in academic, business, and health care settings involves examining supportive relationships that have been cultivated in a face-to- face environment. This thesis explores mentoring in a distance education environment, where learners are physically separated, in time and space, from their professors, peers and university. By exploring the perceptions of adult learners in this non face-to-face learning environment, the nature of the phenomenon is discovered. A qualitative research design known as Grounded Theory was employed. Twenty-two participants, who were either recent graduates from a distance education graduate level program or who were currently enrolled in the same program, were interviewed regarding their perceptions of mentoring in a distance education environment. Six categories were identified. The first category explains how a mentoring relationship at a distance may begin. The second category discusses the premise of constancy in a mentoring relationship, where it was perceived that mentors were ‘always there’ for the learners. The third category explains the notion of transformation, whereby learners experience growth within the relationship. The forth category describes transcendence in a distance mentoring relationship, in that the separation in time and space between participants in a mentoring relationship was perceived to be easily traversed. The fifth category explains that a mentoring relationship supports the whole person and learning experience. The sixth category explains that a mentoring relationship in a distance education environment is discovered to be non- formal and therefore is more casual in nature. The core variable, which is at the heart of the theory, is discovered to be ‘Valuing Perspectives’. A definition of mentoring as well as a model of the relationship between the categories and the core variable is proposed.