- Confirming the Factor Structure of a Mentorship Measure for College Students
Attending college is a common experience in the United States, with about 7.1 million students projected to enroll in public 4-year colleges and universities in Fall 2018, and institutions expecting to award 1.9 million bachelor's degrees for the 2018–2019 academic year (Hussar & Bailey, 2017). Because college represents a significant investment of money and time and students expect positive outcomes, such as employment and increased earning potential (McMahon & Wagner, 1982; Oreopoulos & Petronijevic, 2013), it is important to consider the factors that help students to achieve success during and after their college education.
One characteristic of a college student's experience that is correlated with positive outcomes is the presence of a mentor—often a professor, advisor, coach, or even older peer—who provides a helpful, supportive, and personal relationship with a student, and often serves as a role model (Jacobi, 1991). These mentoring relationships are associated with increased academic achievement and college adjustment, particularly for minority, first-generation, and at-risk students (Horton, 2015; Lundberg & Schreiner, 2004; Schreiner, Noel, Anderson, & Cantwell, 2011). These findings are in line with social cognitive career theory (SCCT), which helps to explain how mentorship, as a proximal contextual influence, can impact an individual's self-efficacy, which then goes on to influence expectations, goals, and goal-directed behaviors (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994; Lent et al., 2001).
Given the value of a mentoring relationship for college student success, it is important to establish a theory-driven quantitative measure of the mentoring relationship for empirical purposes. A quantitative measure of mentorship allows for wide-scale assessment of the characteristics of mentoring relationships and provides a means to assess student outcomes associated with mentorship experiences. Because mentoring relationships differ in the quality and characteristics of their mentor–mentee engagement, a theory-driven measure is needed to capture these qualities (Crisp & Cruz, 2009). Despite the need for such a measure, no widely established assessment exists. The College Student Mentoring Scale (Crisp, 2009) has been used in community college samples, but its factor structure was not as robust among students at a doctoralgranting institution (Crisp & Cruz, 2009). In a previous study (Gullan et al., 2016), we used developmental theory (see Baxter Magolda, 2009; Kegan, 1994) to develop a number of items that assess college students' experience being mentored, and we empirically derived the Mentor Relationship Assessment (MRA), an internally reliable 24-item measure through [End Page 372] exploratory factor analysis on data from 321 students. In this study, we aimed to confirm the factor structure and internal reliability of this measure in a new sample of students from a different university.
We used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to confirm the factor structure of the mentorship measure using data from 254 students at a small satellite campus of a public 4-year school in the Northeast. Students completed the original version of the MRA (Gullan et al., 2016) with 24 items regarding their experience with a mentor on campus. Participants roughly reflected the overall campus composition in gender (65% female) and race/ethnicity (19% non-White). Most students' primary major was in social sciences (43%), business (16%), or physical sciences (15%). The sample included 26% first-year students, 28% sophomores, 22% juniors, and 24% seniors. Students were most likely to identify a teacher (46%) or an advisor (31%) within their major as their mentor. Finally, 36% of students reported that they lived on campus.
After providing written, informed consent, each participant was asked to choose one faculty, coach, or other professional staff member at the university whom he or she identified as a mentor and to complete the MRA as it pertained to that specific relationship, which assesses: (a) how a student feels challenged by the mentor (e.g., "My mentor challenges my way of thinking"); (b) how connected a student feels to the mentor (e.g., "I feel personally connected with my mentor"); (c) how committed the mentor–mentee relationship is (e.g., "My mentor makes time for me"); and (d) how the mentor encourages student engagement in extracurricular activities (e...