Reflections on Research Podcast

Reflections on ResearchThe Reflections on Research podcast offers practitioners, policymakers, and leaders in youth mentoring a fun and accessible way to learn about the latest research and reflect on the practical applications of new research to their work. Listeners will hear directly from the research community in a conversational space as leading scholars discuss their findings and the implications of their work. Each interview breaks down one or more studies (often OJJDP funded) and will help anyone in the mentoring field understand the key details and main takeaways from complex research projects.

Current and past episodes can be streamed or downloaded below.

Season 3

  • Episode 1 – Dr. Gizem Erdem and Dr. Michelle Kaufman

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    In this episode, Drs. Gizem Erdem and Michelle Kaufman join us to discuss their recent research summary on mentoring and substance misuse, exploring how adult mentors can support young people who have been impacted by substance misuse in the home or who are struggling with addiction issues themselves. We review the ways in which mentors can be part of prevention and treatment, with a special emphasis on the opioid crisis. (1 hour)

  • Episode 2 – Julia Freeland Fisher

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    Julia Freeland Fisher of the Christensen Institute joins the show to talk about her recent book, Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students' Networks. We discuss research on how "weak tie" relationships with adults support youth in the pursuit of their goals, how educational institutions can reform their structures to provide more networking connections and enhanced learning for students, and the role that technology can play in sharing social capital and building bridges to opportunity. (1 hour, 9 min.)

  • Episode 3 – Dr. Julia Pryce

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    In this episode, NMRC Research Board member Dr. Julia Pryce of Loyola (Chicago) discusses her research on the concept of mentor-youth “attunement” and why mentors and staff need to emphasize reading youth cues in order to strengthen the relationship and make the mentoring experience more enjoyable and stress-free for all participants. Listeners can find a copy of the F.A.N. Framework she discusses during the episode here. (53 min.)

  • Episode 4 – Dr. Michelle Kaufman

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    In this episode, Dr. Michelle Kaufman of Johns Hopkins University joins us to discuss e-mentoring research and practice. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down schools and youth-serving programs, leaders have increasingly turned to technology-delivered mentoring interactions, while also recognizing that these digital tools also hold great promise for non-crisis application, as well. Join us as Dr. Kaufman talks about what we know about e-mentoring and her own research into the use of digital tools to bring youth and caring adults together in relationship. (53 min.)

  • Episode 5 – Dr. Amy Syversten and Dr. Cecilia Saddler

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    Over the last few decades, the Search Institute has been leading the way in our understanding of both the assets youth need to thrive and the supportive, developmental relationships they need with adults in order to reach their potential. This episode features a lively discussion with Drs. Amy Syversten and Cecilia Saddler, who share findings from key new research into developmental relationships and discuss their work to apply those insights into the work of teachers and others who can take relationship-centered approaches to supporting youth of all ages. (52 min.)

Season 2

  • Episode 1 – Dr. Gabe Kuperminc

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    To kick off season 2, NMRC Research Board Co-Chair Gabe Kuperminc joins us to talk about a major new study he recently completed of a large school-based group mentoring program for middle school youth. Dr. Kuperminc reviews the history and potential of group mentoring, details major findings from this important study, discusses the importance of group dynamics in moderating outcomes, and offers a wealth of advice and food for thought for anyone running a group mentoring program for children or adolescents. (54 min.)

  • Episode 2 – Dr. Sam McQuillin

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    In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Sam McQuillin of the University of South Carolina to discuss his innovative research on short-term school-based mentoring, as well as his thoughts on how we can improve the mentoring that happens in schools and the concept of enlisting mentors to offer more meaningful support to youth with mental health and other challenges. Sam is one of the most innovative thought leaders in the mentoring movement and this hour-long interview is full of keen insights and interesting ideas for practitioners and policymakers. (58 min.)

  • Episode 3 – Dr. Liz Raposa and Dr. Jean Rhodes (part 1)

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    This episode is part 1 of our interview with Liz Raposa and Jean Rhodes about their recent meta-analysis of youth mentoring programs (and more). Their groundbreaking study examined the overall effectiveness of one-to-one mentoring programs for youth, as well as the activities and circumstances that influence that effectiveness. This discussion should interest funders and policymakers in addition to program leaders. (35 min.)

  • Episode 4 – Dr. Liz Raposa and Dr. Jean Rhodes (part 2)

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    In part two of our interview with Liz Raposa and Jean Rhodes, we go deeper into the possible directions for the mentoring field based on the findings of their meta-analysis and other factors. They make a compelling case for training mentors to be effective delivery systems for evidence-based interventions, although that shift might result in major changes for the mentoring field and how volunteers spend their time. Anyone interested in the future of relationship-based interventions like mentoring will find interesting ideas in this discussion. (35 min.)

  • Episode 5 – Dr. Michael Karcher

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    Dr. Michael Karcher of the University of Texas-San Antonio joins us for a discussion about his recent evaluation of the Youth Advocates Program and their positive results around youth recidivism. We also discuss his long career in research and the ways in which he feels mentors can best transform youth and help them feel valued. (52 min.)

  • Episode 6 – Dr. David DuBois and Elizabeth Higley

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    Dr. David DuBois is joined by program leader Elizabeth Higley to discuss their recent evaluation of the Great Life Mentoring program, which provides mentoring services for youth who are receiving clinical mental health services. This interview offers both practitioner and researcher insights into how this program is able to utilize volunteer mentors in conjunction with clinical services and details a number of positive outcomes that the program has produced related to the functioning and time in treatment for youth referred to the program. A great way of hearing both researcher and program staff perspectives and an illustration of what it can look like when those groups collaborate effectively around evaluation. (56 min.)

Season 1

  • Episode 1 – Dr. David DuBois and Dr. Carla Herrera

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    David and Carla break down the findings from one of the most important studies in mentoring in years: the long-term follow up with the mentees, now adults, from the original 1995 landmark study of Big Brothers Big Sisters. (63 min.)

  • Episode 2 – Dr. Edward Latessa

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    We discuss key findings from his team’s study of mentoring services for youth on parole and probation in Ohio and learn about how the youth mentoring field aligns, and sometimes doesn’t, with the broader research on what prevents criminality and recidivism. (54 min.)

  • Episode 3 – Dr. Nancy Deutsch

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    Nancy joins us to break down several studies of the Young Women Leaders Program, an innovative blend of group and one-on-one mentoring, including recent findings that indicate lasting impacts for girls on key outcomes. (56 min.)

  • Episode 4 – Dr. Jennifer Blakeslee and Dr. Tom Keller

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    In this episode, Jennifer and Tom discuss the My Life program, which uses self-determination principles within a mentoring context to produce meaningful (and long-term) positive outcomes for youth aging out of the foster care system. (52 min.)

  • Episode 5 – Dr. Tom Keller and Dr. Renee Spencer

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    Two leading scholars in the mentoring field join us to discuss their new Study to Analyze Relationships (STAR), which offers great insights into the interpersonal dynamics of mentoring matches, gaps in match closure procedures, and the practices that may prevent early match termination. We end with a great discussion about the gap between the expectations and reality of the experience of mentoring a child. 


Note: This podcast was supported by Grant 2016-MU-MU-K001 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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