The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 149–157 | Cite as

‘You know what, this is kind of helping me’: Students’ Experiences of a Hong Kong School-Based Mentoring Programme

  • Mark Gregory HarrisonEmail author
  • Bonnie Luk
  • Lianne Lim
Regular Article


Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with ethnically Chinese adolescents enrolled into a school-based mentoring programme at a private secondary school in Hong Kong. Interview data were analysed thematically and two themes developed: ‘experiencing mentoring’ and ‘experiencing the mentor’. The mentees, although initially sceptical about mentoring, were surprised by its helpfulness. Through the development of an informal and collaborative relationship in which students experienced their mentor as a trustworthy, mature and objective adult, students found an important source of emotional support and practical help which benefited their academic work. Students’ experience was influenced by their mentors’ role in the school, length of service and gender match. School-based mentoring programmes in a Hong Kong context have the potential to offer emotional and academic support to students. Cultural factors may have an impact on the experience of mentoring which schools should take into account when setting up such programmes.


School-based mentoring Qualitative Thematic analysis Hong Kong 


  1. Barrett, L., Lane, R., Sechrest, L., & Schwartz, G. (2000). Sex differences in emotional awareness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(9), 1027–1035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Batty, J., Rudduck, J., & Wilson, E. (1999). What makes a good mentor? Who makes a good mentor? The views of year 8 mentees. Educational Action Research, 7(3), 365–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ben-Eliyahu, A., Rhodes, J. E., & Scales, P. (2014). The interest-driven pursuits of 15-year olds: “Sparks” and their association with caring relationships and developmental outcomes. Applied Developmental Science, 18(2), 76–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brady, B., Dolan, P., & Canavan, J. (2015). ‘He told me to calm down and all that’: A qualitative study of forms of social support in youth mentoring relationships. Child and Family Social Work, 22(1), 266–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2012). Thematic analysis. In H. Cooper, P. M. Camic, D. Long, A. Panter, D. Rindskof, & K. Sher (Eds.), The APA handbook of research methods in psychology (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  7. Clarke, V., Braun, V., & Hayfield, N. (2015). Thematic analysis. In J. A. Smith (Ed.), Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Deutsch, N. L., & Spencer, R. (2009). Capturing the magic: Assessing the quality of youth mentoring relationships. New Directions for Student Leadership, 2009(121), 47–70.Google Scholar
  9. 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(2), 157–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 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(2), 57–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Grossman, J. B., Chan, C. S., Schwartz, S. E., & Rhodes, J. E. (2012). The test of time in school-based mentoring: The role of relationship duration and re-matching on academic outcomes. American Journal of Community Psychology, 49(1–2), 43–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 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(1), 346–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hue, M. T. (2016). School counselling in Hong Kong Schools and cultural influence. In M. T. Hue (Ed.), School counselling in a chinese context: Supporting students in need in Hong Kong. New York: Taylor & Francis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Karcher, M. J. (2008). The study of mentoring in the learning environment (SMILE): A randomized evaluation of the effectiveness of school-based mentoring. Prevention Science, 9(2), 99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Maxwell, J. A. (2012). A realist approach for qualitative research. Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Schulte-Rüther, M., Markowitsch, H. J., Shah, N. J., Fink, G. R., & Piefke, M. (2008). Gender differences in brain networks supporting empathy. Neuroimage, 42(1), 393–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Simões, F., & Alarcão, M. (2014). Teachers as school-based mentors for at-risk students: A qualitative study. In Child & youth care forum (vol. 43(1), pp. 113-133). Springer New York.Google Scholar
  18. Spencer, R. (2006). Understanding the mentoring process between adolescents and adults. Youth & Society, 37(3), 287–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Spencer, R., Basualdo-Delmonico, A., & Lewis, T. O. (2011). Working to make it work: The role of parents in the youth mentoring process. Journal of Community Psychology, 39(1), 51–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Spencer, R., Drew, A. L., Walsh, J., & Kanchewa, S. S. (2018). Girls (and Boys) just want to have fun: A mixed-methods examination of the role of gender in youth mentoring relationship duration and quality. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 39(1), 17–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Tang, T. T., Reilly, J., & Dickson, J. M. (2012). Attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help among Chinese students at a UK university. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 12(4), 287–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Vaclavik, D., Sánchez, B., Buehler, K., Gray, T., & Rodriguez, E. (2017). How to support me in connected learning: Youth perspectives on adult supportive behavior and its benefits. Journal of Community Psychology, 45(7), 906–921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© De La Salle University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Education University of Hong KongNew TerritoriesHong Kong
  2. 2.Hong KongPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations