Post-match Training for Mentors
Evidence Rating for this Practice:
In the studies reviewed, the methodology used for assessing effects of the practice did not meet relevant criteria for rigor. As a result, these studies were each designated as Insufficient Evidence and the practice as a whole is designated as Insufficient Research. This rating is based on currently available research and may change as new research becomes available.
Description of Practice:
Post-match training for mentors involves providing mentors with structured guidance and instruction after they have begun their mentoring relationships with youth. Topics covered may include, but are not limited to, communication and relationship building skills, identifying and managing ethical issues in mentoring relationships, and strategies for promoting positive youth development. In some cases, post-match training may be tailored to the characteristics, backgrounds, or needs of a specific population of mentees (e.g., children of incarcerated parents). Post-match training also may be tailored to the specific goals of a program or the backgrounds or expressed needs of mentors (e.g., how to engage effectively with the youth’s family in the case of mentors whose socioeconomic or cultural backgrounds are different from those of their mentees).
The frequency and duration of post-match mentor training can vary from single sessions lasting one to several hours to multiple sessions that extend over the length of a mentor’s involvement in a program. Similarly, post-match training can be timed to occur at pre-specified points in the course of relationship (e.g., within the first six months) or can be provided on a more flexible basis in response to mentor needs and interests. This type of training may be delivered in varied formats (e.g., group or individual, in-person or online) but must have an interactive component (for example, for an on-line resource this might involve mentors responding to questions and receiving feedback at different points in the training).
This practice is distinguished from pre-match training (which is delivered either prior to or very shortly after the initiation of the mentoring relationship), match support for mentors (which is focused on providing more individualized guidance specific to the mentor and his or her mentoring relationship(s)), and guided mentor-mentee activities (which, although potentially including an educational component, are focused primarily on other objectives such as mentee enrichment or mentor-mentee relationship development).
The primary goal of the practice is to help ensure high-quality and effective mentoring relationships by increasing the overall skills and knowledge of mentors while they are serving in this role.
Target Population/Eligibility of Target Sites:
This practice is applicable to the full range of youth populations that may be served by mentoring programs as well as the varied settings in which mentoring of young persons may take place.
Post-match training for mentors is not guided by a particular theoretical perspective. However, the focus of this practice on strengthening participants’ knowledge, skills, and efficacy beliefs for mentoring youth is consistent with the prominent role given to such influences in numerous established theories of behavior change (for example, the Integrated Behavior Model; Montano & Kasprzyk, 2008).
Corresponding Elements of Effective Practice:
This practice is most relevant to the areas of Training and Monitoring and Support within the Elements of Effective Practice.
The successful implementation of this practice is likely to require staff to have mastery of the substantive content of the training as well as to be experienced with effective methods of instruction and adult learning principles.
DuBois and colleagues (2002) examined the practice of post-match training for mentors in a meta-analysis of 55 youth mentoring program evaluations. (Meta-analysis is a technique for synthesizing and summarizing findings across evaluations of similar, but not identical research studies. One question often addressed in meta-analyses is whether the effects of a certain kind of program, like youth mentoring, differ based on the specific types of practices that are utilized. A correlation between the use of a practice and program effectiveness does not, generally speaking, provide strong or definitive evidence of a causal effect of that practice; one reason for this is that programs that do or do not utilize a particular practice may differ in other important ways, not all of which can be controlled for statistically.) Analyses were based on 59 independent samples because some studies contributed more than one sample. To be included, the evaluations needed to utilize a two-group randomized control or quasi-experimental design (15 and 26 samples, respectively) or a one-group pre-post design (18 samples). The meta-analysis included a comparison of effect sizes on youth outcomes between programs that included post-match training for mentors (17 samples) and those that did not (42 samples). Prior to this analysis, effect sizes were residualized on study sample size and evaluation design to control for these methodological influences. Further, multivariate analyses examined whether post-match training earned entry into a best-fitting regression for predictors of effect size; one regression considered 11 features of programs suggested to be important on the basis of theory and a second focused on 7 program characteristics that reached or approached statistical significance as moderators of effect size in the meta-analysis.
All analyses were conducted under the assumptions of both fixed and random effects models. Effect sizes corresponded to differences on youth outcome measures at post-test or follow-up between program and comparison/control group youth (or, in the case of evaluations with single-group designs, differences between pre-test and post-test or follow-up scores for program youth). The specific youth outcomes assessed varied by evaluation and could fall within any of the following domains: emotional/psychological, problem/high-risk behavior, social competence, academic/educational, and career/employment.
Programs that provided post-match training to mentors had larger estimated effects on youth outcomes than those that did not provide this type of training. This difference was statistically significant in both fixed and random effects analyses. In the latter, random effects analysis, programs offering post-match training had an estimated effect size of .26 on youth incomes (95% confidence interval: .15 to .37), whereas those that did had an estimated effect size of .11 on youth outcomes (95% confidence interval: .03 to .19). Thus, although favorable program effects were indicated to be evident in each case, they were larger in magnitude when programs included post-match mentor training. In practical terms, the effect size found for programs offering post-match mentor training corresponds to the average youth in a mentoring program scoring approximately ten percentile points higher than the average youth in the nonmentored comparison group; in comparison, this difference is only four percentile points in the case of programs not offering post-match mentor training (Cooper, 2010).
In multivariate analyses, under the assumption of random effects, offering post-match mentor training was found to be one of two practices that earned entry into best-fitting regressions for predicting program effect sizes. It was not, however, among the practices that earned entry in the corresponding regressions under the assumption of fixed effects.
Kauffman (2010) tested the effects of post-match training for female mentors (“Big Sisters”) in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) community-based mentoring program on their levels of communication with their mentees (“Little Sisters”) about sexual health issues. Big Sisters were recruited from a state chapter of BBBSA in New England. To be eligible for the study, Big Sisters must have been matched with a Little Sister for a minimum of three months, and the Little Sister had to be at least 10 years old. Any Little Sister was excluded if her parent/guardian had specified sexual topics as a conversation that should not be pursued by the Big Sister when spending time with the youth.
Of 265 Big Sisters recruited for the study, 66 consented to be in the research, were randomized to study condition, and completed baseline surveys (140 refused participation or were unable to be contacted and 59 were no shows for the baseline assessment). The participating Big Sisters were randomly assigned to either participate in the post-match training being investigated (n = 32) or not (n = 34).
The post-match training under study was delivered in a single session lasting approximately three hours. The training was designed to increase the self-efficacy of Big Sisters for talking with their Little Sisters about issues related to sexual health, such as avoiding pregnancy, STIs, HIV, using condoms, and delaying sexual debut. In addition, Big Sisters were encouraged to talk with their Little Sisters about the positive aspects of sexuality, such as being comfortable with oneself and seeing sex as a positive experience between two people when it is consensual and safe. The training was delivered in a small group format (2-6 Big Sisters per group) at an office of the collaborating BBBSA program. The training was delivered using various modalities, including discussions, videos, and role-playing (see Kaufman, 2010, for a more detailed description of the training).
The Big Sisters assigned to the control group completed a training session of equivalent length using the same small-group format; this session focused on supporting self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations for discussing bullying and peer pressure with Little Sisters. Audiotapes of both types of training sessions were content coded by research assistants to ensure both that all components were covered consistently across sessions and that content discussed in the sexual health training was not discussed in the training received by the control group.
The average age of the participating Big Sisters was 41 years; two-thirds (67%) had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. A majority of the Big Sisters were women of color (African American: 37.8%; Latina: 28.8%; Caucasian: 25.8%; multiracial: 4.5%). Most Big Sisters had been matched with their current Little Sister for three years or less (less than 1 year: 25.8%; 1–2 years: 21.2%; 2–3 years: 21.2%). On average, at baseline Big Sisters reported spending 6.25 hours with their Little Sisters at their last meeting and a majority reported seeing their Little Sisters once every two to three weeks (n = 36, 54.5%). The treatment (training) and control groups did not differ significantly on any of the preceding variables. The Little Sisters of the Big Sisters in this study were an average of 13 years old with a racial/ethnic distribution similar to their Big Sisters (African-American: 37.9%; Latina: 28.8%; Caucasian: 25.8%; multiracial: 4.5%).
Study outcome measures were completed by Big Sisters on four different occasions: baseline (pre-training) and follow-ups of 2, 4, and 6 weeks. The outcome measures included scales assessing perceptions of self-efficacy and outcome expectations for discussing sex-related topics with the Little Sister; additional measures assessed the frequency with which the Big Sister talked to her Little Sister about sex-related topics as well as the length of these conversations (separate scales assessed discussions relating to having sex, getting pregnant, STIs/HIV, changes due to puberty, and romantic relationships with boys).
Rates of attrition (non-survey completion) varied across follow-up, with 89% of participants completing at least two follow-up surveys. Attrition rates did not vary significantly between the treatment and control groups at any of the three follow-ups. Attrition was also found to be unrelated to baseline scores on outcome measures or participant demographic characteristics either for the sample overall or in interaction with group status (treatment vs. control). Furthermore, analyses revealed no significant differences between treatment and control groups at baseline on the measures assessing frequency of discussing different sex-related topics with Little Sisters.
Primary analyses tested for differences between groups (treatment group receiving sexual health training and control group receiving the bullying/peer pressure training) on the outcome measures at each follow-up assessment, controlling for baseline scores on the outcome.
Mentors' Self Efficacy for Talking About Sexual Health Issues
Kaufman (2010) found no significant difference, at the 6 week follow-up, between Big Sisters who received post-match training and those in the control group with regard to their reported levels of self-efficacy in discussing sexual health issues with their Little Sisters. Results did show that Big Sisters increased their scores on this measure over the 4 times of assessment; however, this was similarly true of Big Sisters in each group.
Mentors' Outcome Expectancies for Talking About Sexual Health Issues
Kaufman (2010) found no significant difference, at the 6 week follow-up, between Big Sisters who received post-match training and those in the control group with regard to their reported outcome expectations for discussing sexual health issues with their Little Sisters.
Total-time “Having Sex” was Discussed
This study found no significant difference, at the 6 week follow-up, between Big Sisters who received post-match training and those in the control group with regard to whether they reported having discussed the topic of having sex with their Little Sisters during the preceding 2 weeks.
Total-time "STIs/HIV" was Discussed
This study found no significant difference, at the 6 week follow-up, between Big Sisters who received post-match training and those in the control group with regard to whether they reported having discussed the topic of STIs/HIV with their Little Sisters during the preceding 2 weeks.
Total-time "Romantic Relationships with Boys" was Discussed
This study found no significant difference, at the 6 week follow-up, between Big Sisters who received post-match training and those in the control group with regard to whether they reported having discussed the topic of romantic relationships with boys with their Little Sisters during the preceding 2 weeks.
Further analyses tested for evidence of effects of the training under study at the 2 and 4 week follow-up assessments, using alternative formulations of the study outcome measures (e.g., total time a topic was discussed), and for Big Sisters who reported low levels of discussion of sex-related topics with their Little Sisters at the baseline assessment. In general, as with the findings reported above, these analyses failed to indicate significant differences between the group receiving the training in discussion of sexual health issues and the control group that received the alternative training focused on bullying/peer pressure.
At study baseline, the majority of Big Sisters (56%) reported that they never or rarely discussed having sex with their Little Sisters. The corresponding percentages of never or rarely discussing other topics were similar or higher and as follows: Getting pregnant (58%), STIs/HIV (77%), changes due to puberty (67%), and romantic relationships with boys (65%).
Herrera and colleagues (2007) examined correlates of post-match training for mentors as part of a randomized control evaluation of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) school-based mentoring program. This evaluation included 1,139 youth in grades 4 to 9 and programs operated by 10 BBBSA affiliates. A total of 554 volunteers, who were assigned to serve as Big Brothers or Big Sisters (“Bigs”) for the youth assigned to the treatment group, completed baseline surveys at the start of the study. Almost three quarters (72 percent) of these Bigs were female. Approximately half of the Bigs (48%) were 18 years old or younger (i.e., high school students) and an additional 17 percent were 19 to 24 years old (predominately college students). The remaining Bigs were adults ages 25 and older. Approximately one fourth of the Bigs (23%) belonged to a racial or ethnic minority group, African-American being the most common of these (8% of all Bigs). Measures were completed by Bigs and other informants (teachers and youth) on three occasions: Baseline: Beginning of First School Year, First Follow-Up: End of First School Year, and Second Follow-Up: Late Fall of Second School Year. Further details on the study design and sample can be found in Herrera et al. (2007).
On the survey that Bigs completed at the end of the first school year, they responded to the following item: “How much time was spent in individual training after the start of your match?” A question about group training was also asked but did not differentiate between training completed prior to and after the start of the match. Bivariate correlations were computed between reported amount of individual post-match training received and two outcomes: mentor-reported feelings of closeness toward his or her mentee at the second follow-up and whether or not the mentoring relationship continued into a second school year as reported by program staff.
Mentor-reported Feelings of Closeness Toward Mentee
Mentor reports of the amount of individual post-match training received were correlated significantly and positively with mentor-reported feelings of closeness toward their mentees at the second follow-up assessment of the study. The size of this association was between levels typically suggested to be indicative of a small- or medium-sized relationship between variables.
Mentoring Relationship Continued into a Second School Year
Mentor reports of the amount of individual post-match training received were correlated significantly and positively with continuation of the mentoring relationship into the second year as indicated by staff reports. The size of this association was closest to the level typically suggested to be indicative of a small-sized relationship between variables.
Herrera and colleagues (2013) examined correlates of post-match training for mentors as part of an evaluation of seven one-to-one, volunteer-based mentoring programs, five of which were Big Brothers Big Sisters of America community-based mentoring programs. This evaluation included 1,310 youth who ranged in age from 8- to 15-years old and who were from a variety of ethnic backgrounds (57% were ethnic minorities). About two-thirds of the youth came from single-parent homes and about two fifths were from low-income households (i.e., annual incomes below $20,000). In addition, nearly three quarters (71%) faced some type of “individual-level” risk—for example, academic struggles, behavior problems, or mental health concerns. When divided into groups based on individual and environmental risk levels, approximately one-fourth (26%) were designated as relatively high on both types of risk.
The volunteer mentors paired with youth were predominately White (82%) and had an average age of 32, although nearly one-quarter were college students (owing primarily to one of the programs being university-based with all college student mentors). Nearly half of the mentors (44%) reported having prior experience working with youth with behavioral, social, or emotional difficulties and similar numbers reported experience working with youth from diverse cultural backgrounds (45%) and youth living in poverty (35%). Survey measures for the study were completed by youth, mentors, and parents both at baseline and at a 13-month follow-up (parents completed a survey at follow-up in only a portion of the evaluation). Further details on the study design and sample can be found in Herrera et al. (2013).
Whether or not mentors participated in post-match training during the 13 month study period was determined based on records maintained by program staff as part of the study. This type of training was offered (but not required) by 4 of the 7 programs at the start of the initiative being evaluated and by all but one program by the end of the research. Overall, approximately 1 in 3 mentors (31%) received post-match training.
Analyses examined participation in post-match training as a predictor of several different mentoring relationship outcomes. These included whether or not mentor-mentee meetings were frequent (three or more times per month) and whether or not the mentoring relationship lasted at least 12 months, both of which were assessed via program records; indices of mentoring relationship quality as reported by youth were also examined (i.e., levels of goal or growth focus and developmental centeredness, respectively, in the relationship and the youth’s feelings of closeness toward his or her mentor). All analyses controlled for the youth’s gender, age, race/ethnicity, and risk status group as well as for program.
Mentor-mentee Meeting Frequency
Herrera et al. (2013) found that mentor participation in post-match training was not a significant predictor of whether or not mentors met frequently with their mentors during the 13 month study period.
Mentoring Relationship Lasting 12 Months or Longer
Herrera et al. (2013) found that mentor participation in post-match training was a significant predictor of whether or not the mentoring relationship lasted at least 12 months. Mentors who received post-match training were more likely to have relationships lasting a year or more in comparison to those who did not receive this type of training.
Mentoring Relationship Quality: Growth/goal Focus
Herrera et al. (2013) found that mentor participation in post-match training was a significant predictor of mentee-reported level of growth/goal focus in the mentoring relationship. Reported levels of growth/goal focus were higher among mentors who received post-match training in comparison to those who did not receive this type of training.
Mentoring Relationship Quality: Youth Centeredness
Herrera et al. (2013) found that mentor participation in post-match training was not a significant predictor of mentee-reported level of youth centeredness in the mentoring relationship.
Mentoring Relationship Quality: Closeness
Herrera et al. (2013) found that mentor participation in post-match training was a significant predictor of mentee-reported feelings of closeness toward their mentors. Reported levels of closeness were higher for youth whose mentors who received post-match training in comparison to those whose mentors did not receive this type of training.
Herrera et al. (2013) also tested whether mentor participation in post-match training as a predictor of mentoring relationship outcome varied according to youth individual and environmental risk status. No significant differences were found.
External Validity Evidence:
Variations in the Practice
Information on the post-match training offered to mentors, such as its duration and content, is lacking in most studies. It appears, however, that in most instances the training was provided in an in-person rather than online format and that mentor participation was optional rather than required. There has also been likely variation in the characteristics of post-matching training offered to mentors across different programs included in studies (most notably, the DuBois et al., 2002, meta-analysis). However, investigations have not tested for differences in effects of post-match training as a function of such characteristics.
Most studies of the effects of post-match training for mentors have included youth who are predominately from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Participating youth have been relatively diverse demographically in terms of their age, gender, and race/ethnicity. However, because studies have not tested for differences in effects of post-match training across subgroups of youth along these dimensions (e.g., males vs. females), applicability of findings to different demographic groups is not known. Herrera et al. (2007) did, however, establish that participation in post-match training predicted outcomes similarly across subgroups of youth that varied in their levels of assessed individual and environmental risk.
Most studies of the effects of post-match training for mentors have been limited to mentors who are volunteers. Study samples have included variations in other areas of mentor background, such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, and prior experience working with youth. However, because studies have not tested for differences in effects of post-match training across subgroups of youth along these dimensions (e.g., male vs. female mentors), applicability of findings to different subgroups of mentors is not known.
Studies of the effects of post-match training for mentors have been conducted within mentoring programs that use a 1-to-1 mentoring format. Most programs have been community-based and have been operated by Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) affiliates. Although there are exceptions (Herrera et al., 2007, studied school-based mentoring programs and DuBois et al., 2002, examined predominately non-BBBS programs), they are too limited to provide a basis for assessing consistency of findings across differences in either program setting or host organization. Programs included in studies (most notably, DuBois et al., 2002) have also varied in their use of other practices (e.g., pre-match training for mentors). However, investigations have not tested for differences in effects of post-match training as a function of whether programs included these other practices.
Studies have investigated the effects of post-match training for mentors primarily on outcomes having to do with mentoring relationships (or, similarly, attitudes of mentors relating to working with their mentees as in Kaufmann, 2010). Both mentoring relationship duration and feelings of closeness between mentor and mentee have been investigated in two studies (Herrera et al., 2007, 2013) with consistent findings of post-match training being associated with greater duration and relationship closeness. Only one investigation (DuBois et al., 2002) has examined possible effects on youth outcomes and it did not test for possible differential implications of post-match training depending on domain or type of outcome.
Resources Available to Support Implementation:
Resources to support implementation of post-match training of mentors can be found under the Resources section of this website.
DuBois, D. L., Holloway, B. E., Valentine, J. C., & Cooper, H. (2002). Effectiveness of mentoring programs for youth: A meta-analytic review. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30, 157-197. doi:10.1023/A:1014628810714
Herrera, C., DuBois, D. L., & Grossman, J. B. (2013). The role of risk: Mentoring experiences and outcomes for youth with varying risk profiles. New York, NY: A Public/Private Ventures project distributed by MDRC. Retrieved from http://www.mdrc.org/publication/role-risk
Herrera, C., Grossman, J. B., Kauh, T. J., Feldman, A. F., & McMaken, J., & Jucovy, L. (2007). Making a difference in schools: The Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based mentoring impact study. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures. Retrieved from http://issuelab.org/home
Kaufman, M. R. (2010). Testing of the Healthy “Little” Lives Project: A training program for Big Sister mentors. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 5, 305–327. doi:10.1080/15546128.2010.527234
DuBois, D. L., Portillo, N., Rhodes, J. E., Silverthorn, N., & Valentine, J. C. (2011). How effective are mentoring programs for youth? A systematic assessment of the evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12, 57-91. doi:10.1177/1529100611414806 (This study was reviewed but did not meet criteria for inclusion in the review of this practice.)
Herrera, C., Sipe, C. L., McClanahan, W. S., Arbreton, A. J. A., & Pepper, S. K. (2000). Mentoring school-age children: Relationship development in community-based and school-based programs. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures. Retrieved from http://issuelab.org/home (This study was reviewed but did not meet criteria for inclusion in the review of this practice.)
Meyerson, D. A. (2013). Mentoring youth with emotional and behavioral problems: A meta-analytic review (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database. (UMI No 9982304). (This study was reviewed but did not meet criteria for inclusion in the review of this practice.)
Miller, J. M., Barnes, J. C., Miller, H. V., & McKinnon, L. (2013). Exploring the link between mentoring program structure & success rates: Results from a national survey. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 38, 439-456. doi:10.1007/s12103- 012-9188-9 (This study was reviewed but did not meet criteria for inclusion in the review of this practice.)
Montano, D. E., & Kasprzyk D. (2008) Theory of Reasoned Action, Theory of Planned Behavior, and the Integrated Behavior Model. In K. Glanz, B. K. Rimer, K. Viswanath (Eds.), Health behavior and health education (4th ed., pp. 67-92). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Raley, B. (2006). Rewards of giving: An in-depth study of older adults’ volunteer experiences in urban elementary schools. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures. Retrieved from http://issuelab.org/home (This study was reviewed but did not meet criteria for inclusion in the review of this practice.)
Wheeler, M., & DuBois, D. L. (2009). Analysis of responses to agency practices survey for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s community-based mentoring program. Unpublished report prepared for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. (This study was reviewed but did not meet criteria for inclusion in the review of this practice.)