Facilitator characteristics and competencies that promote prosocial development among adolescent girls in mentoring groups

Sovik-Johnston, Amanda, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Lawrence, Edith, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Deutsch, Nancy, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Sheras, Peter, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Williams, Joanna, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Group mentoring may be an especially beneficial intervention for adolescent girls at-risk. Literature suggests that, while some group interventions promote positive change, some may lead to iatrogenic effects. To understand factors that are related to positive outcomes, this study utilized hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) and qualitative methods to investigate the group facilitator characteristics, experiences, demographic variables, and behaviors that promote prosocial development among adolescent girls in mentoring groups. Eighteen groups were studied, including 141 adolescent girl mentees and twenty group facilitators. Among mentees, 60% qualified for subsidized school lunch, 55% were of color and 29% were Caucasian. Among facilitators, 75% were undergraduate students and the rest graduate students, 45% were of color, and 50% were Caucasian.

Three domains of social behavior were determined through factor analysis: Social Adjustment, Externalizing Behaviors, and Victimization. Change scores were created for each domain and served as the dependent variables of the HLM analyses. Level-1 predictors included age, identifying as African-American, identifying as Caucasian, being of low SES, being from a single-adult home, and attending school in the urban district. Three sets of analyses were conducted for each domain to investigate variation based on: 1) facilitator characteristics, 2) facilitator experience, and 3) facilitators demographics. There was significant variation between and within groups for changes in Social Adjustment and Externalizing Behaviors. Among level-1 predictors, identifying as African-American and being from a single-adult home predicted increased positive changes in Externalizing Behaviors. Among Level-2 predictors, adults with experience with youth at-risk and having two facilitators lead the group predicted increased changes in Social Adjustment in the positive direction.

Based on quantitative results, three groups were chosen for qualitative analysis: one with an experienced facilitator, one with two facilitators, and one with a quiet facilitator with limited prior experience. Field notes were coded and analyzed for facilitator behaviors theorized to promote prosocial development. Findings indicate that the facilitators of the groups that made prosocial gains spoke frequently, utilized a consistent set of tools, and appeared authentic in their interactions. Additionally, the facilitators of both groups were natural in sharing their adult-world ideas in the context of their relationships with mentees.

Results indicate that group mentoring outcomes can be variable based partially on adult factors. Knowledge of and attention to these factors is imperative for responsibly implementing group mentoring programs. Recommendations for facilitator hiring and training are offered.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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