Quality Thinking for Mentoring

BUILDING A QUALITY SYSTEM for the assessment and evaluation for mentoring programmes

"Successful mentoring programmes are knowledge intensive organisations that have to operate in an ever changing context, while - simultaneously - they have to deliver customised services through the mentors to mentees and their parents. However, in order to provide this customisation, a mentor should not follow a certain path that is set by the organisation, but have a large degree of autonomy. A mentor should deal with this scope for action in a particularly responsible way, which in turn puts pressure on a mentoring programme to recruit suitable mentors. The challenge for a mentoring programme is therefore to develop a shared vision for all stakeholders which is specific enough to drive the concrete actions of the mentors, without prescribing it in details. "

– Meijers – 

There are many right ways to mentor. But how to assess their effectiveness and evaluate the impacts?

As activities of Mentoring Europe show, there is a growing demand in the European mentoring field for knowledge about evaluation and quality. Practitioners seek quality standards and support on how to apply them in a tailor-made way to their programme. 

Quality is a contested and context-specific term. In the case of mentoring programmes, defining what quality means for mentoring programmes is in close connection to the goals of these programmes. Quality standards refer to processes that organisations implement; it is a system that people create. Standards do not guarantee the quality of the mentoring relationship and its effects; on the other hand, they contribute to an awareness within organisations that leads to a road of ever-increasing quality.

Actions towards Quality Thinking

Based on this mindset, Mentoring Europe sets a path of quality thinking, connecting four actions:

  • Conducting common working sessions of mentoring practitioners and researchers from all over Europe to collect elements of best practice and results of scientific research
  • Defining a set of criteria, standards and recommendations on what works. These are evidence- and practice-based
  • Starting a learning process connecting practitioners and researchers, engaging in discussions on how to apply criteria and best practices to your mentoring programme in a customised way
  • Launching a (self)-evaluation procedure that offers practitioners the chance to work with quality systems and improvement. This procedure includes instruments that are developed based on scientific evidence, yet they are easy to use