Mentoring and Tutoring Information

In this section, I will discuss approaches to mentoring, various adult learning theories, the mentoring process, resources for mentoring, and tips for mentors and their mentees. This information can also be applicable to tutoring sessions, with tutor and pupil. 

Mentor and Tutor Information

Here, I discuss the various approaches to mentoring, adult learning theories, the process of mentoring, resources, and tips for mentors/tutors and mentees/pupils. This information is applicable to tutoring sessions as well. Please click on the tabs to learn more about each category.

Approaches to Mentoring

Mentoring has been around for ages, and is typically referred to as someone with more experience assisting someone with less experience. There have been many approaches to mentoring through the years, and the ideology has shifted over time. 

Traditional Mentoring
A traditional mentoring model is based on the idea that a mentor is the expert and the mentee is the apprentice. All information in this approach is moving one way- from mentor to mentee (Winston & Lee, 2013). The mentee cannot provide anything to the mentor and the mentor is in complete power of the relationship. This is a more outdated approach.
Reverse Mentoring
A fairly new approach to mentoring, this ideology is based on the idea that a more senior person in a field turns to a younger person in the field to gain specific technical skills or knowledge (Zachary, 2012). This may occur when an older person needs assistance learning a new software program or when an account manager turns to his team to learn more about their individual roles in the company.
Peer Mentoring
A unique approach to mentoring where two peers mentor each other or where one peer mentors the other. Neither is a 'senior' leader, but each has a skill set that the other desires. They work together to provide each other with the knowledge they require. Both peers can serve as mentor and mentee (Zachary, 2012). ​ This approach can be used in a group as well, with several peers coming together to help each other.
Supervisory Mentoring
This approach is based on one's supervisor becoming their mentor. As Lois Zachary (2012) discusses, a supervisory mentor partnership does not work as a formal mentor-mentee relationship. Typically, supervisors will mentor or coach their employees on a sporadic basis, giving them advice and encouraging them to grow in their career. ​ Zachary suggests clearly establishing your roles and responsibilities in this relationship to ensure success, and be mindful of role conflicts.
Group Mentoring
Similar to peer mentoring, this approach is about a group of individuals who mentor each other. It can also be that one person mentors a group of individuals as a facilitator. The facilitator asks questions to provoke critical thinking and problem solving, and provides feedback to the group (Zachary, 2012).
Personal Board of Directors
This approach is called a Personal Board of Directors because one person will hand-pick several personal mentors to guide them during transitions (Zachary, 2012). This provides the mentee with feedback and perspectives from multiple people at one time, giving a much more objective picture to the problem at hand.
Distance/Virtual Mentoring
In a world of new technology (especially post-pandemic), distance and virtual mentoring is important (Zachary, 2012; Winston & Lee, 2013). This does not have to require only synchronous meetings, but can include telephone, text, and e-mail conversations. These all assist in providing the mentor and mentee with the opportunity to connect to each other while working with their schedules.

Adult Learning Theories

There are many different ways of learning, and each person learns differently. However, there are overarching themes and principles of learning that seem to correlate with adult learners. Adult learners typically strive for autonomy and want to be in control of their learning. They also typically fear making mistakes (Gordon & Magler, 2007). 

I will discuss four different principles of adult learning here – Perry, Belenky, et al., Kegan, and Knowles.  

William Perry

Perry studied male college students’ learning processes. He discovered steps that adult learners traverse through their learning journey. The stages of learning are referred to as ‘Positions’ in his research. The information on this page is cited from The Mentor’s Companion by Gordon & Magler, 2007.

Position 1
Dualistic perception- everything is either 'right' or 'wrong' and learners expect their mentor to give them all the right answers.
Position 2
Learners begin to understand that 'right' and 'wrong' are not the only options, even if they disagree with that idea. They may think that by not giving definitive answers, their mentor is unknowledgeable, and they may want to find a new mentor.
Position 3
The learner understands that their mentor cannot provide the 'right' answer, but they may still seek to find it. Frustrations come to fruition as mentors or mentees struggle with the process of critical thinking.
Position 4
Learners are faced with the decision to accept ideologies other than their own or stay in their old mindset. They may believe that since the 'right' answer is relative, they do not need to continue learning, plateauing their knowledge. Learners in this position may think that they are always right.
Position 5
Learners understand the importance of knowledge relativity. They want to learn more about the processes of making decisions and answering questions.
Position 6
Learners begin to form their own opinions and beliefs and use those to impact their decision-making. They answer questions based on their personal values.
Position 7
Learners commit to the learning process in this position. They decide if they want to continue in their career field based on the information and context they already have.
Position 8
In this position, learners realize that their decisions have consequences, and they begin to explore what that looks like in practice. Ethical decision-making, problem-solving, and deep critical thinking occurs in this stage.
Position 9
Mentees and learners in this position realize that the benefit of mentoring directly relates to how much effort they exert in the relationship. They understand that learning is a lifelong process, and they must constantly improve to prevent skill stagnation.

Belenky, et al.

Perry’s study focused on male college students, so this group of researchers decided to study women’s process of learning.

They discovered four categories of learning processes in women:

  1. The Silenced

  2. Received Knowers

  3. Subjective Knowers

  4. Constructed Knowers​

This information is cited from Gordon & Magler, 2007.

The Silenced
This category represents a group of learners who are completely submitted to authority. They see themselves as a 'responder to authority', not really a learner. These learners assume their mentors are all-knowing.
Received Knowers
These learners relate to Perry's positions 1-3. They think their job as a learner is to absorb information, and are dependent on other people for their learning. They think there is one 'right' answer and they must know what that is.
Subjective Knowers
Learners in this group relate to Perry's 4th position. They may believe they have all the right answers and may feel offended or taken-aback when someone asks them to explain or defend their position. They dislike when others disagree with them.
Procedural Knowers
Learners are aware of a type of learning process. Two groups of people: Separate Knowers and Connected Knowers.
Both categories here related to Perry's positions 6 and 7 because they know that knowledge is gained by objectively analyzing information.
Separate Knowers may use the scientific method to analyze, test, and confirm ideologies or beliefs. They tend to judge all the information they are given. ​
Connected Knowers learn through dialogue. Instead of judging the information, they tend to analyze it through different perspectives.
Constructed Knowers
Learners relate to Perry's positions 8 and 9. They are aware of their whole self and understand the process of learning as multi-faceted. They realize there is no 'right' answer and each decision faces consequences.

Robert Kegan

Stages of Development

Robert Kegan’s adult learning model is really based on adult development and how we move through stages from independence to interdependence. Mentees in this learning model sometimes need their mentor to be directly involved with their learning and may wish for a hands-off approach at other times (Gordon & Magler, 2007).

Please see this article and Robert Kegan’s book for more information about this learning model.

Eriksen, K. (2006). The Constructive Developmental Theory of Robert Kegan. The Family Journal, 14(3), 290–298.
Kegan, R. (2001). The evolving self: problem and process in human development. Harvard University Press.

Malcolm Knowles

Malcolm Knowles discovered 6 assumptions about adult learners. The information in this section is cited from Zacharyin 2012 from Maestro Learning, and
Adult learners have a fully developed concept of self, meaning they are autonomous, independent, and wish to be self-directed rather than outwardly directed.
Learner Experience
Every adult learner has a wealth of prior knowledge, skills, experience, and education background. Their experiences can enrich the life of their mentor, and be a great tool for learning new information.
Readiness To Learn
Adults want the information they learn to be relevant to their current situation and allow for immediate application. They gravitate towards the information they want and need to know.
Immediate Application
This concept is closely related to our readiness to learn. Adult learners want to know the information they are receiving is directly applicable to their current situation.
Problem-Based Learning
Adults desire to solve problems and learn how to approach conflicts, rather than have their learning revolve around subject matter. They need to know the value of what they are learning and how it can contribute to solving real-world problems.
Motivation To Learn
Adults can learn best when intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically motivated. They will respond better to learning when they have a desire to do it for personal reasons, rather than external motivations.

The Process of Mentoring

According to Zachary (2012), there are four phases of mentoring: Preparing, Negotiating, Enabling Growth, and Coming to Closure. I will discuss the four phases here.

Four Phases Of Mentoring

Phase 1: Preparing
This phase focuses on getting you ready for the mentoring relationship by getting to know each other, clarifying roles, responsibilities, and expectations, and assessing your mentee's skills.
Phase 2: Negotiating
Negotiating is where the mentor and mentee come to agreements about learning goals, establish boundaries, and lay ground rules. This is where a mentor/mentee agreement is beneficial- it lays out the details of the relationship and expectations/responsibilities of all parties.
Phase 3: Enabling Growth
The mentoring relationship thrives during this phase. This is where the mentee and mentor learn to trust each other. The mentor facilitates learning, monitors the mentee's progress, and provides effective, timely feedback.
Phase 4: Coming To Closure
All good things must end- coming to closure represents the end of the relationship. It allows the parties to reflect on their learning, celebrate their accomplishments, and evaluate each other objectively.

Resources for Mentors/Mentees


The Mentor's Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships Second Edition
Lois J. Zachary
The Mentee's Guide: Making Mentoring Work For You
Lois J. Zachary with Lory A. Fischler
Mentorship in Sign Language Interpreting
Betsy Winston and Robert G. Lee
The Mentor's Companion: A Practical Guide to Mentoring
Patty Gordon & Mari Magler
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