The Validation of Using Assessment Tools and a Theory to Mentor Doctoral Students with Integrity and Trustworthiness

Laura Roberts
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 15  •  2020  •  pp. 029-056

The primary aim of this study was to reveal the assessment tools and a theory preferred to mentor doctoral students with integrity and trustworthiness. The connection between mentors’ feelings of trustworthiness and protégé success were explored.

This study examines the concept presented in 1983, 1985, and 1996 by Kram of mentor relations (MR) theory, which illustrates that graduation rates can improve with effective mentoring. In the United States, doctoral programs have low graduation rates. Scholars and researchers agree that doctoral programs must develop ways and means to improve their graduation rates. This researcher examined an extension of Kram’s mentor relations theory by employing the Mentor Integrity and Trustworthiness (MIT) theory, which depicts that mentors with a strong sense of integrity and trustworthiness provide a safe haven for protégés to succeed. As supported by Daloz, a trustworthy mentor provides a safe haven for protégés to take the intellectual risks required to produce an original contribution to the canon of scholarly knowledge in the form of a doctoral dissertation.

A quantitative research methodology of data collection ensued including the researcher generated MIT scale and the mentors’ perceptions of protégés’ independence (MPPI) scale, a survey to establish acceptable levels of internal consistencies for items on the two scales, a supported evidence of the content validity of the two scales, the researcher’s analysis of the validity of the MIT theory, and a multi-stage sampling method to recruit a research sample of 50 mentors from four universities in the eastern part of the United States from several education-related doctoral programs. The doctoral programs were diverse in terms of selectivity, type of degree, and mentors’ years of experience.

This research study contributes to existing literature knowledge by generating the relationship between mentors’ feelings of trustworthiness and protégés’ success as measured by graduation rate and the number of awards won by protégés. The validation of the mentor integrity and trustworthiness (MIT) scale and the mentor perceptions of protégé independence (MPPI) scale, and the supported evidence of content validity and reliability for both scales will deepen and extend the discussion of doctoral mentoring in higher education.

Results indicated that mentors’ feelings of trustworthiness were correlated with the number of dissertation awards won by protégés and with graduation rates. Graduation rates and dissertation awards rates were not measured directly, but were reported by the mentors. In addition, the researcher found that mentors perceived their protégés to be independent scholars, in general, however, minimally in the area of writing the research methods section of their dissertation.

The researcher discussed the practical implications for mentors’ professional development in trustworthiness and integrity. The researcher also provided the Right Angle Research Alignment table to help protégés organize and manage the research methods section of their dissertation.

Researchers should continue to explore MIT theory with experimental methods to attempt to improve the internal validity of the theory.

The researcher encourages scholars to test the MIT theory in mentoring relationships that go beyond doctoral studies such as mentoring in business and in the arts. The researcher also encourages scholars to test whether the MIT theory is relevant in other kinds of teaching relationships such as coaching and tutoring.

Further research questions that arise from this study are as follows: What can mentors do to improve their integrity? What can mentors do to improve their feelings of trustworthiness? How can the MIT and MPPI instruments be refined and improved?

doctoral mentoring, mentor trustworthiness, mentor integrity, transformation to independent scholar, protégé development
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