Arrendondo & Rucinski 1998 Using structured interactions in conferences and journals to promote cognitive development among mentors and mentees

Arrendondo, D. E., & Rucinksi, T. T. (1998). Using structured interactions in conferences and journals to promote cognitive development among mentors and mentees. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 13(4), 300-327.


Summary: This mixed methods study used 11 pairs of graduate students enrolled in an educational administration course to understand how training them on interactions to respond to journals and conversations could influence their moral and reflective development. The research questions included: (1) How easily can current and aspiring supervisors learn and use this complex responding process? (2) What were the effects of use on a process of supporting/challenging another individual’s thinking on the mentors’ thinking over the course of the project? (3) What were the effects of use of this support/challenge process on mentees’ thinking over time? And (4) What were the overall reactions of the mentors and the mentees to the conferencing and journaling processes used in this project? The study found no significant change in the moral development and attributed that to the small sample size. They did find that participants reported changes in reflective thinking and behavior not only about themselves as mentors but also about the mentees with whom they were working.  They found that mentors and mentees saw a shift in their learning from more simplistic views of learning to more sophisticated views of learning. They also found that when the interactions among the mentors and mentees were meaningful, trust was built, which permitted critical reflection of practices. Finally, they found that experienced mentors had to unlearn previous practice in order to relearn how to give challenge/support responses. This unlearning slowed the learning process for the experienced mentors, but they eventually were able to learn the new patterns of behavior.


  • “Although participants displayed varying levels of skill in using the patterned responses early in the project, almost all of the mentors gained sufficient facility with the process ot satisfactorily demonstrate this use during role-plays of conferences in class, on audiotapes of conferences, or in their responses to the mentee journals” (p. 313).
  • “Although novice mentors appeared to have experienced fewer difficulties in developing fluent use of the support/challenge dialogue patterns than did those with more experience, almost all were successful in learning the requisite knowledge and skills within the context of a typical graduate-level university course” (p. 325).