Prevention Science

, 9:99 | Cite as

The Study of Mentoring in the Learning Environment (SMILE): A Randomized Evaluation of the Effectiveness of School-based Mentoring



The effect of providing youth school-based mentoring (SBM), in addition to other school-based support services, was examined with a sample of 516 predominately Latino students across 19 schools. Participants in a multi-component, school-based intervention program run by a youth development agency were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: (1) supportive services alone or (2) supportive services plus SBM. Compared to community-based mentoring, the duration of the SBM was brief (averaging eight meetings), partly because the agency experienced barriers to retaining mentors. Intent-to-treat (ITT) main effects of SBM were tested using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) and revealed small, positive main effects of mentoring on self-reported connectedness to peers, self-esteem (global and present-oriented), and social support from friends, but not on several other measures, including grades and social skills. Three-way cross-level interactions of sex and school level (elementary, middle, and high school) revealed that elementary school boys and high school girls benefited the most from mentoring. Among elementary school boys, those in the mentoring condition reported higher social skills (empathy and cooperation), hopefulness, and connectedness both to school and to culturally different peers. Among high school girls, those mentored reported greater connectedness to culturally different peers, self-esteem, and support from friends. Findings suggest no or iatrogenic effects of mentoring for older boys and younger girls. Therefore, practitioners coordinating multi-component programs that include SBM would be wise to provide mentors to the youth most likely to benefit from SBM and bolster program practices that help to support and retain mentors.


Mentoring School Connectedness Social skills Self-esteem Multilevel modeling 



This research was funded by the William T. Grant Foundation and received ongoing support from Drs. Robert Granger and Ed Seidman. The study was conducted through the Communities in Schools of San Antonio (CISSA) agency with the help of ChiChi Allen, Kristine Benne, Debby Gil-Hernandez, Molly Gomez, Michelle Holcomb, and Laura Roy-Carlson. David DuBois consulted on the design and data analyses. The project would not have succeeded without the support of Dr. Patrick McDaniel, Nancy Reed. Jessica Weaver, the Case Managers and Cluster Leaders at CISSA. Ed Connor assisted with data management. Bob Frasier and Ross Trevino assisted with mentor recruitment. Drs. Rich Diem, Art Hernandez, and Jesse Zapata provided a home for the 3-year project. The author thanks David DuBois, Renee Spencer, and Timothy Cavell for their feedback on earlier drafts, and both Tina Kauh and Mathilda du Toit for assistance with the HLM models.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling and Educational PsychologyUniversity of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

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