Short Course summary of the event

Short-course on programme evaluation and monitoring, lead by prof. dr. Jean Rhodes
Date: 10 / 11 May 2017
Location: Leeuwarden, NL

On 10th and 11th May, a Short Course was offered to practitioners and researchers. This Short Course was lead by prof. Jean Rhodes and included best practices from different mentoring programmes and research in Europe. Co-leaders of the Short Course were mr. Marty Martinez, president and CEO of Mass Mentoring Partnership, US and dr. Elizabeth Raposa, assistant professor of William and Mary College, US.
The event was organized by the European Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring in collaboration with KiPa Berlin, DE (Netzwerk Berliner Kinderpatenschaften).

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Putting research into action

The Short Course covered three major areas of interest to researchers and practitioners in the field of youth mentoring:

Latest research results

Researchers at the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring have recently completed several major studies, including a meta-analysis that have direct implications for improving mentoring service and advancing research agendas in Europe. The short course provided interesting, accessible overviews of the latest findings from these and other important new research, presented by prof. Rhodes and dr. Raposa.

In her presentation, prof. Rhodes highlighted the risk of premature ending in mentoring relationships. A study among 45 programmes and 35.000 relationships showed that 40% of the relationships end within a year. The higher the risks in the lives of mentees, the higher the risk that the relationship falls apart. She suggested for the audience to use the length of the mentoring relationship as an indicator for the strength of the relationship, in case there is no other way for evaluation.

She also pointed out that giving mentors support for their developing self-efficacy, helps the relationship thrive. According to the latest meta-analysis, activities in a mentoring relationship - "playful" opposed to "instructional" and "conversational" contacts - are also indicators for successful and effective relationships. All in all, it is advised to build a strong relationship first, and not become a vehicle of education only.

Prof. Rhodes also explained the concept of natural mentoring, along with bridging and bonding social capital, as an approach. According to studies, 76% of youth has a natural mentor in their lives. How can we bring mentors to the remaining 24% and how can we teach youth to become 'mentor magnets'? Rhodes' lab developed a series of lessons called Connected Scholars that makes young people aware of the importance of mentors in their lives and helps them to develop skills to find mentors and connect to them. She invited organizations to create a setting where youth can find their mentors.

How to put research into action?

Mr Martinez pointed out the importance of mentor and mentee recruitment. He advised programmes to search for the right quality and to train skills and knowledge (such as cross-cultural communication). Match support is very important so that people can grow and develop. Contacting mentors and mentees twice in the first month of the match, helps at the start. He suggested to monitor closely of the goals of the mentee and of the relationship are reached. It is not enough to report that there is plenty of fun during meetings; it is important to keep the learning goals in mind as well. Mr Martinez explained the Theory of Change as an strong tool to monitor results.

The Elements of Effective Practice, offers a set of research- and safety-informed practices that can ensure that youth mentoring programs are as effective and safe as possible. The elements offer programmes a chance to adhere to evidence-based practice.
There are different mentoring models to apply, and there are different target groups to focus on. Dr. Raposa explained the different mentoring models: school-based, community-based, site-based and group mentoring. Prof. Rhodes shared the latest research results about mentoring for immigrant youth.

Evaluation methods

Drawing on case studies from Europe and the US, prof Rhodes and prof Raposa discussed the various approaches to programme evaluation and strategies that programs can use for simple and effective assessment. Prof Rhodes also shared a compendium of instruments that many mentoring researchers use.
Some advices: @ look for validated tools on internet, @ use measurements of motivation and attitude towards youth, @ the Rozenberg measurement of self-esteem is available on internet, @ school attendance and school grades are indicators of effectivity in a mentoring relationship.

Mr Martinez encouraged participants to do more with measurement, evaluation and monitoring - "you are doing more then you think...". He explained the difference of process and outcomes evaluation. In process evaluation, you count the matches you make, the types of activities, duration of the matches, the quality of the training etc. Outcome measurement focusses on the impact we create for the participants, on an immediate, midterm and shortterm basis. Learning outcomes, finding a job, skills, perception and mindset are all part of the possible measurements ("Succes is not measured by numbers"). Prof Rhodes explained that the closeness in a mentoring relationship and improved attitude towards school are major indicators of growth and effectivity.

Best practices

The following practitioners gave a presentation of their organization and methodology:

- Laer for Livet (DK), mrs Stine Hamburger
- DUO for a JOB (BE), mr Gilbert Carlson
- Connect2work (BE), mrs Zerin Oral
- Scottish Mentoring Network (UK), mr Iain Forbes - see presentation here

Participating delegates

Participating delegates of the Short Course were mentoring practitioners, researchers and heads of mentoring programmes.
Would you like to connect to the participants that attended the event? Then you can check the list of participants.

Impression of the event

Pre-programme of the Short Course

During the pre-programme of the Short Course, prof. Jean Rhodes gave a master class "Understanding and facilitating the youth mentoring movement", for an international audience.
The presentation was part of the International Week organized by Stenden / NHL Universities of Applied Sciences.