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Mary Jean Harris Williams & Darlene Russ-Eft

Mentorship and student self-efficacy: predicting academic self-confidence

Theme: Approach/school/theory
Area: Mentoring
Type: Research and how it could be applied in practice
Keywords: Social Cognitive Theory, self-efficacy, student self-confidence, academic self-confidence, mentorship, student success, mentor relationship development theory, office hours, women’s ways of knowing

Session on Tuesday, Jul 10th, 16:50
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Student self-efficacy is fundamental to student success. Mentorship from faculty, staff, advisors, and counselors can be effective at building students’ academic self-confidence. Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory served as a guiding framework for exploring the effect of mentorship on academic self-confidence in college freshmen. A nationwide survey of over 15,000 students provided self-report scores for academic self-confidence before and after students’ freshman year. Exploratory factor analysis was used to study students’ mentorship-initiating behaviors and attitudes regarding faculty, staff, advisors, and counselors. Regression analysis was used to identify what mentorship experiences on campus predicted changes in students’ academic self-confidence. Results showed that some, but not all, contact with potential mentors predicted positive changes in academic self-confidence. Attending office hours, as well as faculty showing concern for students’ progress, may predict reductions in academic self-confidence. Furthermore, women students may experience mentorship interactions differently from men. Implications for educators include understanding the nature of interactions that help develop students’ academic self-confidence, with promise for supporting student success.


Dr Mary Jean Harris Williams is Communication Studies Faculty at Clackamas Community College in the USA. She has been teaching Communication Studies in greater Portland, Oregon for 12 years. She holds a BS in Business from California State University Sacramento, an MS in Communication from Portland State University, and a PhD in Education from Oregon State University. She specialises in Community College Leadership, an area known for workforce education, and programs that are responsive to community and employer needs. She also serves as an Assessment Coach across the campus. She is a certified presenter for Development Dimensions International, and a past president of NorthWest Communication Association.

Dr Darlene Russ-Eft is Professor of Adult and Higher Education, College of Education, Oregon State University (OSU in the USA). She received her MA and PhD from University of Michigan in the USA in cognitive psychology. She worked for training companies as director of research before joining OSU, where she teaches doctoral and masters’ courses to senior leaders and practitioners. She is past president for the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD); past director for the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction (ibstpiR); and past board member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). She is past editor of Human Resource Development Quarterly. Her research focuses on evaluation of organizational learning interventions.

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