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Case study of mentor and intern relationships in a professional development school context at the secondary level

by Freeman, Harry.

Abstract (Summary)
The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the mentor and intern relationships within a Professional Development School collaborative at the high school level. This investigation utilizes case study methodology informed by phenomenological perspectives. The attitudes and beliefs of six mentors and five interns were explored and analyzed. Data consisted primarily of interviews collected over a full school year beginning in September and ending in June. Data analysis involved reading of transcripts, searching for common themes and patterns, within cases as well as across cases. Three research questions were investigate for this study: 1) How did the dyad understand and interpret their interactions?; 2)How did the relationships and ways of working evolve?; and 3) What factors, both within the PDS and within the school, impacted the development of the relationship? Within the study of the different dyads specific themes surfaced. At the beginning of the school year conversations with mentors and interns flushed out these themes as crucial in affecting the development of the dyads: (1) early uncertainty, ambiguity and unclear expectations of the intern’s role, (2) mentor expectations of the intern initially, and (3) the influence of the mentor’s past experiences working with interns and student teachers. As the school year progressed the iv following themes emerged as crucial to the development of the relationship: (1) the amount of mentor support provided the uncomfortable intern, (2) the degree of empathy for the intern, (3) the amount and frequency of communication, and (4) the time spent between the mentor and intern. Through a cross-case analysis the following assertions about what affected the mentor-intern relationship were established: a)the start of the school year which is filled with ambiguity is most important for the developing the relationship; b)the mentor is the key to the successful relationship; c) past experiences of the mentor impact the relationship; d)clear and frequent communication is essential; and finally e)the intern’s level of confidence which the mentor influences impacts the relationship.
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School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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