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Adolescent perceptions of mattering in the school mentoring context Aller, Sharon A.

Abstract

This study examines adolescent perceptions of mentoring relationships with unrelated adults and suggests a typology of mentor behaviors that promote a sense of mattering to a mentor. A pretest/posttest quasi-experimental design was used with a sample of adolescents (n=34) enrolled in two rural high school social studies classes requiring their selection of a volunteer mentor. The selective influence of significant unrelated adult mentors was explored, with the hypothesis that mentors perceived as credible and valuable would exert the most positive influence on a perception of mattering. While this hypothesis was supported, the adolescent's perception o f mentor behaviors had a mediating effect on the relationship between credibility and value and mattering to the mentor at time two. Taking a pattern-centered approach to analysis, the mentor's challenge, expectations, pressure and support were examined using cluster analysis. Two patterns emerged with differential effects on the development of perceived mattering: Autonomy supportive and directive. Autonomy supportive mentoring was characterized by scores that were slightly below the mean on mentor pressure and above the mean on mentor support and expectations and mentor challenge. Adolescent perception of these behaviors was positively associated with a perception of the credibility and value of the mentor and perceived mattering to the mentor. Conversely, directive mentor behaviors were negatively associated with adolescents' perceptions of the credibility and value of the mentor and a sense of mattering to their mentor. Scores that were above the mean on mentor pressure and well below the mean on mentor support, challenge and expectations characterized this pattern. Findings are discussed in terms of their importance for theory building and conceptualization for both the mattering theoretical framework and consideration of the influence of mentoring on adolescent development.

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