Adolescent and adult sit on a couch facing each other and smiling

Round Up: National Mentoring Month

UVA EHD researchers are contributing to a growing body of research on effective mentoring across ages.

Audrey Breen

January is National Mentoring Month, and researchers at the UVA School of Education and Human Development are contributing to a growing body of research on how and why effective mentoring works. Below are news stories, blog posts and research articles published last year, each advancing our understanding of effective mentoring.

Youth Mentoring

Discussion Topics 

Do the topics of conversations mentors and mentees discuss matter? Research published in September reveals that they do. The team tracked what topics were discussed between mentor-mentee pairs of the University of Virginia’s Young Women Leaders Program. The topics included friendships, academic skills, romantic relationships and others. They then compared the frequency of which those subjects were discussed with how much the mentees improved (or declined) at the conclusion of the mentoring intervention. The study showed significant associations between topics and mentees’ improvements or declines in outcomes.

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Staying Together

Effective mentoring can be successful in an evidence-based program when the mentee and mentor continue to participate. So, avoiding early termination of a mentoring relationship is important. Research published in March of 2022 examines strategies for monitoring the quality of a mentoring relationship as a means of predicting whether a mentoring relationship will end too early.

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Young Women Leaders Program

UVA’s Young Women Leaders Program, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, is a mentoring program that pairs female UVA students, or “big sisters,” with middle school “little sisters.” In this story from November, read about Big Sister Ella Fendley, who mentors a student at Burley Middle School, where her mother, a UVA alumna, has been a liaison to the YWLP program there for about 15 years. 

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Mentoring and Families

Familial Mentors

In an article published last spring, Youth-Nex researchers examined the benefits of mentors who are part of an adolescent’s family but are not their parents. They found that, for Black youth, familial mentors had a positive impact on the relationship between their mentee and their mentee’s parents. The researchers described three specific ways mentors helped support their mentees’-parent relationship. 

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Family Relationships

For youth participating in mentoring programs, what goes on at home can have an impact on the effectiveness of that program. In a study published in July, researchers reveal that family relationships are not typically considered when a youth mentoring program is being evaluated. With that in mind, the team examined the role family relationships may play in youth mentoring.

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Adult Professional Mentoring


School-based mental health providers play an important role in supporting students, especially at a time when evidence suggests students have increasing needs. This year, a team of our researchers published an article on the use of a remote mentoring program aimed at supporting the professional development of these providers. Utilizing the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes or ECHO tool, the team tested a telementoring model aimed at increasing staff engagement and knowledge and the results were positive.

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News Information