Mentoring in Health Sciences: Associations between Graduate Students’ Assessment of Mentors’ Attributes, and Satisfaction from Research Studies, Research Skills Development and Motivation for Research

By Talma Kushnir, Nir Madjar and Jacob Gopas.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Background: In this exploratory study we focused on mentoring relations between formal mentors and graduate research students in health and life sciences. The aims were to assess the contribution of personal and professional mentors’ attributes (as well as academic skills), as perceived by the students, to students’ research motivation, research skills development and overall satisfaction from graduate studies in the Faulty of Health Sciences.
Methods: 116 Israeli graduate (Masters’ and doctoral) students responded to a questionnaire sent by e-mail that assessed students’ perception of mentors’ attributes, and students’ perception of their own research motivation, research skills development and general satisfaction from graduate studies in the Faculty.
Results: Exploratory factor analysis extracted three mentors’ attributes: Active guidance skills, expertise and flexibility. Of the three factors, the respondents evaluated mentors’ expertise as highest, and active guidance skills as lowest. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) revealed that the active guidance skills attribute was the best predictor of all students’ outcomes. Surprisingly, expertise was a negative predictor for students’ perceptions of skills development.
Conclusions: The instruments compiled for this specific context and the theoretical model suggested here should be further tested and developed to verify their validity and utility. The findings imply that mentors’ active guidance skills have a significant contribution to students’ outcomes. However, they also suggest that the students perceived their mentors as somewhat lacking in these skills. This attribute should therefore be the target for interventions aimed at improving mentoring quality in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Fortunately, activities such as guidance in literature surveys and praising small achievements are rather amenable to change through faculty staff development and training.

Keywords: Formal Mentoring, Research Students, Life Sciences, Health Sciences, Motivation for Research, Research Skills Development, Student Satisfaction

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.95-106. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 828.636KB).

Prof. Talma Kushnir

Head, Department of Sociology of Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Talma Kushnir, PhD, Psychology. I obtained my BA degree in Psychology and educational research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and my PhD at Hull University, England. I am an Associate Professor of health psychology in the Department of Sociology of Health, at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University, Israel. I have been involved for over 20 years at all levels of academic education and training of physicians and health professionals. My main research interests are medical education, physician-patient communication, and causes and outcomes of occupational stress and burnout, especially in the medical and nursing sectors.

Nir Madjar

PhD Student, Education, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Nir Madjar, MA, Educational Psychology. I am a doctoral student in the Department of Education at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. My main interests are students’ motivation, learning strategies and personal epistemology. Since I obtained my Master’s degree in Educational Psychology in 2005 I have been teaching at Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College. My courses concern qualitative and quantitative research methods, motivation in schools and introduction to psychology.

Prof. Jacob Gopas

Head of School of Health Professions, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Jacob Gopas PhD, Microbiology and Immunology. I obtained my B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel and my PhD at the Albert Einstein college of Medicine, Bronx, New York. In addition I obtained a Master’s degree in Management of Medical Institutions at Ben Gurion University. I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University, actively involved in cancer research, advising several graduate students in my laboratory. I was for five years Head of the Graduate Student Committee of the Faulty of Health Sciences and currently, Head of the Recanati School of Community Health Professions in the same Faculty, offering Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Nursing, Physiotherapy and Emergency Medicine (paramedics).

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