Abstract: Mentors Who Connect: The Impact of Mentor Connecting Behaviors on Youth Relational Outcomes (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

530 Mentors Who Connect: The Impact of Mentor Connecting Behaviors on Youth Relational Outcomes

Thursday, May 30, 2019
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Laura J. Austin, BA, Doctoral Student, Suffolk University, Boston, MA
Carla Herrera, PhD, Independent Consultant, Independent Consultant, Washington DC, WA
Roger G. Jarjoura, PhD, American Institutes for Research, American Institutes for Research, Washington, DC
Sarah Schwartz, PhD, Assistant Professor, Suffolk University, Boston, MA
Introduction: Research shows formal youth mentoring can positively influence youth relational and engagement outcomes (e.g., Dubois et al., 2011). Many mentoring studies to date have focused on how the experience of a positive relationship with an adult may function as a “corrective attachment experience” (e.g., Rhodes et al., 2006). Little research has examined what specific mentor behaviors facilitate youth’s relationships and community engagement. This study explores whether mentor connecting behaviors may contribute to positive relational and engagement outcomes.

Methods: This study was a secondary data analysis of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program dataset, focusing on a subset of 1,700 11- to 14-year-old youth who participated in one-on-one community-based mentoring. Youth were 54.8% female and ethnically/racially diverse. The independent variable was mentor-reported connecting behaviors (e.g., “Introducing my mentee to interesting or influential adults in the community”). Dependent variables (parent relationship quality, number of school/community activities, and number of special adults) were reported by youth prior to being matched and at a one-year follow-up. Multilevel regression analyses were conducted, controlling for gender, age, and race.

Results: Youth reported moderately positive parent relationships at baseline (G00 = 3.50, t = 81.87, p < .001), with increases at follow-up (G10 = .06, t = 3.07, p = .002). Mentor connecting significantly predicted improvements in parent relationship quality (G11 = .06, t = 2.79, p = .005). Similarly, number of school/community activities increased from 1.74 to 2.03 from baseline to follow-up (G10 = .29, t = 5.03, p < .001). Interestingly, mentor connecting was significantly related to the number of activities youth reported at baseline (G01 = -.11, t = -2.46, p < .014), suggesting that mentors provided more connecting for less involved youth. Mentor connecting significantly predicted changes in the number of youth’s activities, such that youth with high connecting behaviors demonstrated significant increases in number of activities, whereas those with low connecting behaviors demonstrated decreases in number of activities (G11 = .36, t = 6.03, p < .001). However, no significant impacts were detected for connecting behaviors on youth-reported number of special adults.

Conclusions: Connecting behaviors in mentoring may contribute to more positive youth relational and engagement outcomes. Implications for research and practice will be discussed.