The Test of Time in School-Based Mentoring: The Role of Relationship Duration and Re-Matching on Academic Outcomes

  • Jean B. Grossman
  • Christian S. Chan
  • Sarah E. O. Schwartz
  • Jean E. Rhodes
Original Paper


The influence of match length and re-matching on the effectiveness of school-based mentoring was studied in the context of a national, randomized study of 1,139 youth in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs. The sample included youth in grades four through nine from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. At the end of the year, youth in intact relationships showed significant academic improvement, while youth in matches that terminated prematurely showed no impact. Those who were re-matched after terminations showed negative impacts. Youth, mentor, and program characteristics associated with having an intact match were examined. Youth with high levels of baseline stress and those matched with college student mentors were likely to be in matches that terminated prematurely, while rejection-sensitive youth and mentors who had previous mentoring experience were more likely to be in intact relationships. Implications for research and practice are discussed.


Mentoring Adolescence School-based intervention 



The authors gratefully acknowledge Carla Herrera, Keoki Hansen, and the support of the William T. Grant Foundation and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.


  1. Adkins, L. C. (2010). Testing parameter significance in instrumental variables probit estimators: Some simulation results. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  2. Angrist, J., Imbens, G., & Rubin, D. (1996). Identification of causal effects with instrumental variables. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 91, 444–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernstein, L., Rappaport, C., Olsho, L., Hunt, D., & Levin, M. (2009). Impact evaluation of the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Mentoring Program. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  4. Bostic, J. Q., Shadid, L. G., & Blotcky, M. J. (1996). Our time is up: Forced terminations during psychotherapy training. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 50, 347–359.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Coie, J., & Dodge, K. (1988). Multiple sources of data on social behavior and social status in the school: A cross age comparison. Child Development, 59, 815–829.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Downey, G., & Feldman, S. (1996). The implications of rejection sensitivity for intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 1327–1343.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Downey, G., Feldman, S., Khuri, J., & Friedman, S. (1994). Maltreatment and child depression. In W. M. Reynolds & H. F. Johnson (Eds.), Handbook of depression in children and adolescents (pp. 481–508). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  8. Downey, G., Lebolt, A., Rincón, C., & Freitas, A. L. (1998). Rejection sensitivity and children’s interpersonal difficulties. Child Development, 69, 1074–1091.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Downey, G., Mougios, V., Ayduk, O., London, B., & Shoda, Y. (2004). Rejection sensitivity and the defensive motivational system: Insights from the startle response to rejection cues. Psychological Science, 15, 668–673.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. DuBois, D. L., Holloway, B. E., Valentine, J. C., & Cooper, H. (2002a). Effectiveness of mentoring programs for youth: A meta-analytic review. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30, 157–197.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. DuBois, D. L., & Karcher, M. J. (2005). Handbook of youth mentoring. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  12. DuBois, D. L., Neville, H. A., Parra, G. R., & Pugh-Lilly, A. O. (2002b). Testing a new model of mentoring. In J. E. Rhodes (Ed.), New directions for youth development: A critical view of youth mentoring (pp. 21–57). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  13. 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. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  14. DuBois, D. L., & Rhodes, J. E. (2006). Youth mentoring: Bridging science with practice. Journal of Community Psychology, 34, 547–565.Google Scholar
  15. Egeland, B., Jacobvitz, D., & Sroufe, L. A. (1988). Breaking the cycle of abuse: Relationship predictors. Child Development, 59, 1080–1088.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gennetian, L., Morris, P., Bos, J., & Bloom, H. (2005). Constructing instrumental variables from experimental data to explore how treatment produces effects. In H. Bloom (Ed.), Learning more from experiments: Evolving analytic approaches (pp. 75–114). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  17. Grossman, J. B., & Johnson, A. (1999). Assessing the effectiveness of mentoring programs. In J. B. Grossman (Ed.), Contemporary issues in mentoring (pp. 25–47). Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.Google Scholar
  18. Grossman, J. B., & Rhodes, J. E. (2002). The test of time: Predictors and effects of duration in youth mentoring programs. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30, 199–206.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grossman, J. B., & Tierney, J. P. (1998). Does mentoring work? An impact study of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Evaluation Review, 22, 403–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hayes, A. M., Castonguay, L. G., & Goldfried, M. R. (1996). Effectiveness of targeting the vulnerability factors of depression in cognitive therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 623–627.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Herrera, C., Grossman, J. B., Kauh, T. J., Feldman, A. F., McMaken, J., & Jucovy, L. Z. (2007). Making a difference in schools: The Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based mentoring impact study. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures.Google Scholar
  22. Herrera, C., Grossman, J. B., Kauh, T. J., & McMaken, J. (2011). Mentoring in schools: An impact study of Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based mentoring. Child Development, 82, 346–361.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Herrera, C., Sipe, C. L., & McClanahan, W. S. (2000). Mentoring school-age children: Relationship development in community-based and school-based programs. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.Google Scholar
  24. Holmes, T., & Rahe, R. (1967). The social readjustment rating scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Reasoning, 11, 213–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Iwata, S. (2001). Recentered and rescaled instrumental variable estimation of tobit and probit models with errors in variables. Econometric Reviews, 24, 319–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Karcher, M. J. (2005). The effects of school-based developmental mentoring and mentors’ attendance on mentees’ self-esteem, behavior, and connectedness. Psychology in the Schools, 42, 65–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Karcher, M. J. (2008). The study of mentoring in the learning environment (SMILE): A randomized study of the effectiveness of school-based mentoring. Prevention Science, 9, 99–113.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Karcher, M. J., Davidson, A. J., Rhodes, J. E., & Herrera, C. (2010). Pygmalion in the program: The role of teenage peer mentors’ attitudes in shaping their mentees’ outcomes. Applied Developmental Science, 14, 212–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Keller, T. E. (2005). The stages and development of mentoring relationships. In D. L. DuBois & M. J. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of youth mentoring (pp. 82–99). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  30. Larose, S., Bernier, A., & Soucy, N. (2005). Attachment as a moderator of the effect of security in mentoring on subsequent perceptions of mentoring and relationship quality with college teachers. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22, 399–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Larson, R., Hansen, D., & Walker, K. (2005). Everybody’s gotta give: Adolescents’ development of initiative within a youth program. In J. Mahoney, R. Larson, & J. Eccles (Eds.), Organized activities as contexts of development: Extracurricular activities, after-school and community programs (pp. 159–184). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  32. Lerner, R. M., & Galambos, N. L. (1998). Adolescent development: Challenges and opportunities for research, programs, and policies. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 413–446.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. London, B., Downey, G., Bonica, C., & Paltin, I. (2007). Social causes and consequences of rejection sensitivity. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17, 481–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McDowell, D. J., Kim, M., O’Neil, R., & Parke, R. D. (2002). Children’s emotional regulation and social competence in middle childhood: The role of maternal and paternal interactive style. Marriage & Family Review, 34, 345–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. (2006). Mentoring in America 2005: A snapshot of the current state of mentoring. Alexandria, VA: Author.Google Scholar
  36. Morrow, K. V., & Styles, M. B. (1995). Building relationships with youth in program settings: A study of Big Brother Big Sisters. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures.Google Scholar
  37. Pierce, K. M., Hamm, J. V., & Vandell, D. L. (1999). Experiences in after-school programs and children’s adjustment in first-grade classrooms. Child Development, 70, 756–767.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pryce, J. M. (2006). Up-close and personal: A view of school-based mentoring relationships. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  39. Ragins, B. R., & Scandura, T. A. (1997). The way we were: Gender and the termination of mentoring relationships. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82, 945–953.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rhodes, J. E., & DuBois, D. L. (2008). Mentoring relationships and programs for youth. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17, 254–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rhodes, J. E., Grossman, J. B., & Resch, A. L. (2000). Agents of change: Pathways through which mentoring relationships influence adolescents’ academic adjustment. Child Development, 71, 1662–1671.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rhodes, J. E., Liang, B., & Spencer, R. (2009). First do no harm: Ethical principles for youth mentoring relationships. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40, 452–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rhodes, J. E., Reddy, R., Roffman, J., & Grossman, J. B. (2005). Promoting successful youth mentoring relationships: A preliminary screening questionnaire. Journal of Primary Prevention, 26, 147–168.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rhodes, J. E., & Spencer, R. (2005). Someone to watch over me: Mentoring programs in the after-school lives of youth. In J. L. Mahoney, R. W. Larson, & J. S. Eccles (Eds.), Organized activities as contexts of development: Extracurricular activities, after-school and community programs (pp. 419–435). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  45. Romero-Canyas, R., Downey, G., Berenson, K., Ayduk, O., & Kang, N. J. (2010). Rejection sensitivity and the rejection-hostility link in romantic relationships. Journal of Personality, 78, 119–148.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schwartz, S., Rhodes, J., Chan, C. & Herrera, C. (in press). The impact of school-based mentoring on youth with different relational profiles. Developmental Psychology.Google Scholar
  47. Slicker, E. K., & Palmer, D. J. (1993). Mentoring at-risk high school students: Evaluation of a school-based program. The School Counselor, 40, 327–334.Google Scholar
  48. Spencer, R. (2006). Understanding the mentoring process between adolescents and adults. Youth and Society, 37, 287–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Styles, M., & Morrow, K. (1992). Understanding how youth and elders form relationships: A study of four linking lifetimes programs. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures.Google Scholar
  50. Wheeler, M. E., Keller, T. E., & Dubois, D. L. (2010). Review of three recent randomized trials of school-based mentoring. Social Policy Report, 24, 1–27.Google Scholar
  51. Williams, L., & Winter, H. (2009). Guidelines for an effective transfer of cases: The needs of the transfer triad. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 37, 146–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Community Research and Action 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean B. Grossman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christian S. Chan
    • 3
  • Sarah E. O. Schwartz
    • 3
  • Jean E. Rhodes
    • 3
  1. 1.Public/Private VenturesPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Massachusetts BostonBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations