All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Jerry Patterson

Advisory Committee Members

Gypsy Abbott

Bevery Dyer

Linda Searby

William Rogan

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


The purpose of this study was to examine students’ perceptions of mentoring in a university cooperative education (co-op) program. Within this setting, students report to a supervisor. This supervisor has direct responsibility for the student and may influence the quality of the co-op experience by providing a mentoring role. A need existed to examine the interactions between students and supervisors during this transitional phase between school and work. Results from this study could be used as a source of information for enhancing student-supervisor interactions in co-op and for increasing awareness of the role mentoring may play in shaping the co-op experience. The design of the study utilized both quantitative and qualitative methods. In the quantitative component, a web-based version of Raymond Noe’s (1988) Mentoring Functions Scales was used to examine the psychosocial and career-related functions of mentoring. Factorial ANOVA and one-way ANOVA techniques were used to test the null hypotheses and to determine interactions between the independent variables of gender, ethnicity, and length of time in the co-op program and the dependent variables of the psychosocial and career-related functions of mentoring. In the qualitative phase, interviews were conducted to illuminate the findings from the quantitative phase. Data analysis was conducted using content analysis and emergent themes. The six themes that ii emerged included psychosocial support, career-related support, time as a factor, differing experiences by gender and ethnicity, explanation of scores, and others as mentors. Data analysis revealed that most participants experienced a moderate level of psychosocial and career-related mentoring from their supervisors. Within the interviews, students spent more time reflecting on the quality of their relationships with their supervisors and co-workers than the variables of gender and ethnicity. There were, however, several accounts by female students that highlighted the challenges of working in male-dominated work environments. All of the students identified at least one individual, other than their supervisor, who had served as a mentor for them throughout their placement. A model was presented to help participants better understand the interdependent concepts of relationship, task, and readiness. Additionally, an expanded version of mentoring beyond student-supervisor interactions was recommended.

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