The Importance of Tough-Love Mentoring to Doctoral Student Success: Instruments to Measure the Doctoral Student/Proteges’ Perspective

Laura Roberts
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 15  •  2020  •  pp. 485-516

The purpose of this study is to examine tough-love mentoring theory (TLM) as a potential way to address the problem of low graduation rates among doctoral students.

In order to address this purpose, the researcher presents the following: a) a validation study for assessment tools pertaining to TLM and b) a validation study of TLM theory and its two sub-theories: mentor integrity and trustworthiness sub-theory (MIT) and the mentor high standards sub-theory (MHS).

The researcher tested the validity of the mentor integrity and trustworthiness scale from the protégés’ perspective (MIT-P), the mentor high standards scale from the protégés’ perspective (MHS-P) and the protégés’ perceptions of their own independence (PPI) scale. The sample consisted of 31 doctoral protégés recruited with multi-phase sampling at four education-related doctoral programs in the eastern part of the United States.

The study provides evidence to support TLM as a strategy to address the problem of low graduation rates among doctoral students. In addition, the study contributes validation of assessment tools that can be used to measure doctoral protégés’ perceptions of their mentors.

For each scale, the data show acceptable levels of internal consistency and evidence of content validity. The data are consistent with the TLM theory and its two sub-theories. The unique contribution of the current study is that it draws from the protégés’ perspective.

The researcher presents a) strategies protégés can use to find trustworthy mentors with high standards and b) strategies program administrators can use for professional development of doctoral mentors. The researcher also provides the Right Angle Research Alignment (RARA) table to help protégés organize and manage the research methods section of their dissertation.

It is recommended that researchers use experimental methods to test TLM theory and the sub-theories, MIT and MHS.

This theory may be useful in business and in the arts and in other teaching relationships such as coaching and tutoring. The researcher encourages scholars to test TLM theory in these other contexts.

Further research questions that arise from this study are as follows: How can protégés find mentors who have high standards and who are trustworthy? What can doctoral program administrators do to help mentors develop high standards and trustworthiness?

doctoral mentoring, tough-love mentoring theory, mentor integrity and trustworthiness theory, mentors’ high standards theory
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