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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Supporting the self-determination of mentors and mentees in a cross-age peer mentoring program Dantzer, Benjamin


During late childhood and early adolescence, the peer context becomes increasingly important as peer friendships manifest themselves as important sources of self-esteem and well-being (Parker et al., 2006). Research has shown that close peer friendships can protect students against peer victimization, poor academic achievement, low self-worth, and experiences of negative affect (Gest, Welsh, & Domitrovich, 2005; Furrer & Skinner, 2003; Fenzel, 2000; Parker et al., 2006). Cross-age peer mentoring programs, where older students mentor their younger peers, provide rich opportunities for participants to form healthy relationships with their peers (Karcher, 2005). This study applied Relationships Motivation Theory (RMT; Ryan & Deci, 2017), one of Self-Determination Theory's (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2017) most recent "mini-theories", to the cross-age peer mentoring process. RMT was explored for its usefulness to prepare high-school mentors to support the three Basic Psychological Needs (BPN's) (autonomy, belonging, and competence) of mentees and investigate the potentially reciprocal benefits high-school students experience through mentoring. Ten students (ages 7-18) were recruited from an after-school program to participate in this study. A descriptive multiple-case study design was used to understand participants' experiences. Data include participant-created documents, audio recordings of dyadic interactions, a 9-item self-report questionnaire, and exit interviews. Descriptive statistics and a combination of Provisional and In-Vivo coding (Saldana, 2009) were used to analyze data. On average, mentors demonstrated an ability to use language and practices associated with BPN satisfaction, even though various challenges were highlighted. Mentees reported the greatest satisfaction of their belonging. Mentors reported the greatest satisfaction of their autonomy and competence. All participants reported feelings of happiness and satisfaction within their mentoring relationships and most often attributed these feelings to a sense of competence.

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