Evaluating a mentoring scheme for trainees in the Primary ITO
Dr Lesley Petersen
Completed: September 2014
About the project
The advent of the New Zealand Apprenticeship programme in 2014 established an opportunity for the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) sector in New Zealand to ensure that the quality of their mentoring is meeting the needs of the learners. The purpose of the evaluation approach taken in this project was to determine the effectiveness of an informal voluntary mentoring programme provided for trainees in the Primary ITO and if any changes or improvements could be made.
- To ascertain if mentoring support for trainees by local community volunteer mentors makes a difference to the trainees’ learning experiences and outcomes;
- To identify the impact of mentoring on successful trainee learning experiences and outcomes;
- To develop an organisational strategic policy for the mentoring programme;
- To develop a Mentoring Good Practice model as a formalised process-oriented system for mapping how mentoring support for trainees is provided within the Primary ITO.
The project employed a case study methodology over a five month period in the Central and lower North Island region of the Primary ITO (one of five regions) to evaluate the impact and outcomes of the mentoring programme. This region was selected based on its achievement of successful trainee outcomes including retention, completions and pathwaying to higher levels of study. The participants who were invited to participate in the project included:
- Fifteen agriculture qualification trainees engaged in a mentoring partnership with a volunteer mentor;
- Fifteen volunteer mentors;
- Ten Training Advisers working across the case study region;
- The Learning Support Coordinator for the case study region;
- The National Literacy and Numeracy Adviser for the Primary ITO.
A first step in the project was to conduct a situational analysis. The subsequent evaluation incorporated a review of programme documentation, phone interviews with the project participants, an online questionnaire as an alternative for participants who could not be interviewed, and, identification of case studies which evidenced mentoring impact and outcomes.
A conceptual framework was developed to articulate the multi-dimensional approach that is taken in the voluntary mentoring programme. The framework also provides the foundation for the Mentoring Good Practice model which was developed as a culmination of the project findings.
An analysis of the baseline data, participant interviews and the online questionnaire produced a number of findings and provided a comprehensive account of the Primary ITO’s voluntary mentoring programme. The key findings include i) establishment of formal processes to identify trainee needs; ii) development of mentor recruitment processes; iii) clarification of mentor roles and responsibilities; iv) development of mentor support mechanisms; v) identification of programme benefits and challenges; viii) programme improvement strategies and sustainability.
This report offers a number of recommendations for the Primary ITO and other tertiary education providers to consider in relation to providing good mentoring practices to support trainees’ learning experiences and outcomes. The findings will inform future mentoring programme design for the Primary ITO and the wider tertiary education sector.
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