Faculty mentoring faculty: career stages, relationship quality, and job satisfaction

Laura G Lunsford, Vicki Baker, Meghan Pifer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Scopus citations


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand faculty mentoring experiences across career stages and the influence of mentoring relationship quality on job satisfaction. The study participants were faculty members from a consortium of liberal arts colleges in the USA. The theoretical lens draws from scholarship on career stages, developmental networks, and working alliances. Design/methodology/approach: The analysis is based on a subset of 415 faculty member responses about mentoring from a larger data set on faculty development. The online survey was conducted in Spring 2014. Frequencies, χ2, regression equations, and confirmatory factor analysis were computed using R statistical software. Findings: Over half the faculty members were both mentors and protégés; although, a sizable minority of faculty members did not engage in mentoring. Early-career faculty members were significantly more likely to have a mentor than were mid- or late-career faculty members. For both mentors and protégés, the higher they rated the quality of the mentoring relationship, the more job satisfaction they reported; this finding was greatest for mid-career (associate rank) faculty members. Participants reported significantly higher relationship quality with their mentors than with their protégés. Research limitations/implications: The results may not generalize to faculty members who work at other institution types, for example, research-intensive or two-year schools, or to non-US higher education contexts. Statements made regarding those who do not participate in mentoring are speculative on the part of the authors. Practical implications: Institutions may need to develop support for faculty members who may not desire to engage in mentoring. More attention may be warranted to create individual and institutional supports focused on high-quality mentoring. Originality/value: This study extends the literature on mentoring by establishing that many employees serve in mentor and protégé roles simultaneously. Further, employees engage in mentoring relationships across career stages as mentors and as protégés. The authors developed a reliable measure of mentoring relationship quality that may be used in future mentoring studies. Higher quality mentoring relationships were associated with significantly greater job satisfaction.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)139-154
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - May 23 2018


    • Career stages
    • Faculty
    • Human resources
    • Job satisfaction
    • Mentoring
    • Mentoring and coaching in HE
    • Mentoring and coaching in organizations
    • Mentoring for staff development
    • Mentoring in education
    • Mentorship of early-career faculty members
    • Relationship quality

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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