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Mentoring for the Professions: Orienting Toward the Future

reviewed by Linda C. Tilman - April 27, 2016

coverTitle: Mentoring for the Professions: Orienting Toward the Future
Author(s): Aimee A. Howley and Mary Barbara Trube
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1623968356, Pages: 386, Year: 2015
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Mentoring for the Professions: Orienting Toward the Future is a volume in the Mentoring Perspectives series edited by Aimee A. Howley and Mary Barbara Trube. The book is organized into twenty chapters divided into three sections titled: “Conceptualizing Mentoring,” “Mentoring in Professional Fields & Through Professional Organizations,” and “Mentoring with Different Populations.” The chapters focus on theoretical perspectives, empirical studies, and mentoring in higher education and for professional development.

Mentoring for the Professions contributes to the literature and our understanding of: (a) the necessity of and need for mentoring, no matter the discipline; (b) the myriad ways that mentoring can be accomplished; and (c) the viability of formally and informally structured mentoring arrangements as support mechanisms. Howley and Trube, “position mentoring as a collaborative, reciprocal learning relationship with potential benefits for both mentees and mentors” (p. 4) to establish the overall context for the range of perspectives represented in the book. Three major functions of mentoring are also identified as critical components of effective mentoring across the spectrum of professional fields like higher education, sports, healthcare, K–12 education: refining career skills, furthering psychological skills, and modeling desirable behaviors.

In Chapter Two, Renée A. Middleton discusses mentoring in higher education, and presents a leadership framework for mentoring in higher education that includes transformative, distributed, and situational leadership. Mentoring is closely linked to transformative leadership (transformative mentoring) and distributed leadership (distributed mentoring) in this leadership framework. Leaders in higher education should: (a) employ strategic thinking to determine what the future needs of the institution will be and what types of mentoring will be needed for future leaders (transformational mentoring), and (b) use succession planning to train and mentor individuals who have been identified as future leaders (distributed mentoring). Middleton argues that higher education leaders should become mentors because institutions can benefit from “expanded efforts to provide mentoring to emerging academic leaders” (p. 25). The author subsequently makes a distinction between formal and informal mentoring arrangements, and discusses several formal mentoring programs that have been found to be effective in higher education. Middleton concludes the chapter with a discussion of her own experience as a mentor to a colleague who is in a new leadership position.

In Chapter Seven, Justina Osa, Andrean Oliver, and Tracy Walker discuss findings from a survey of full-time tenure-track faculty. The authors investigate faculty member perceptions of mentoring, areas in which faculty members received professional support, roles and functions of mentors, and barriers to mentoring in the institution. The study indicates that respondents find mentoring to be beneficial but also wanted more formalized mentoring programs. Faculty members also receive support in teaching, research, publishing, conference presentations, grant writing, and understanding the norms and culture of the department and institution. Mentors are available to provide assistance and encouragement, model appropriate behavior, and provide emotional support. While the study was conducted at one institution and the response rate was low (18%), Osa, Oliver, and Walker conclude that mentoring can have a positive impact on the success of tenure track faculty.

The book collectively misses an opportunity to address the lack of mentoring opportunities for individuals of color, a major concern with respect to mentoring across the professions. Except for limited discussions (i.e., Middleton and Martha N. Ovando in Chapter Twelve), little attention is given to mentoring individuals of color. Additionally, in the chapters that mention minorities and disadvantaged groups, women and people of color tend to be treated as a single group. Instead, distinct differences between people of color and majority race women should be attended to (Coursen, Mazzarella, Jeffress, & Hadderman, 1989). This omission is contrary to literature that suggests that individuals in underrepresented racial/ethnic groups are less likely to be mentored than their white peers and typically must go outside of their immediate organization to find formal and informal mentors (Tillman, 2001). For example, with respect to faculty of color, the limited discussion about mentoring individuals of color does not take into account the many faculty members who need mentoring but also serve as mentors to doctoral students of color. For many faculty of color, their time is often split trying to successfully navigate the institutional norms for teaching, service, research, scholarship, and assisting students of color by providing them with academic and emotional support. While majority faculty members can usually assume they will be mentored and that their participation in mentoring will not be constrained by additional duties like mentoring students of color, it is often the case that faculty of color participate less in mentoring arrangements for many reasons including lack of same race mentors and the expectation that mentoring students of color will be one of their primary duties.

The chapters in Mentoring for the Professions pose an interesting question: what is the applicability of the themes, theoretical constructs, empirical research, and models across the professions discussed in the book? For example, could the constructs used to mentor principals also be used to mentor health care professionals? Or could the constructs used to measure the mentoring styles of cooperating teachers also be used in mentor-assisted projects in STEM fields? While the discussions are context specific, it could be useful to consider what it is about these constructs, models, and instruments in each chapter that can be applied generally to other professions.


The strategies outlined in the book should be useful to decision makers, mentors and mentees. Mentoring for the Professions presents useful examples of how a well-conceptualized, well-planned mentoring arrangement can be effective for targeted populations. The book also emphasizes that mentoring can be beneficial to business, healthcare, sports, and academic institutions as they seek to provide positive and productive working environments for their employees, and as they seek to assist their employees in achieving success in their careers.



Coursen, D., Mazzarella, J., Jeffress, L., & Hadderman, M. (1989). Two special cases: Women and Blacks. In S. C. Smith & P. K. Piele (Eds.), School leadership: Handbook for excellence (pp. 85–106). Eugene, OR: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management.


Tillman, L.C. (2001). Mentoring African American faculty in predominantly White institutions. Research in Higher Education, 42(3), 295–325.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: April 27, 2016
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 20287, Date Accessed: 1/22/2022 10:12:26 PM

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About the Author
  • Linda Tilman
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    E-mail Author
    LINDA C. TILLMAN is Professor Emerita of Educational Leadership, School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she taught courses in school leadership, central office leadership, and research design. A former public school educator with teaching and administrative experience, Dr. Tillman is a nationally recognized scholar and leader in higher education. Her research and scholarship is focused in three primary areas: school leadership, the education of all children and particularly African Americans in K-12 education, and culturally appropriate research approaches. Her work has been featured in top tier educational leadership and education policy publications including Educational Administration Quarterly, Journal of School Leadership, Educational Researcher, Review of Research in Education, and Review of Educational Research. Most recently she served as editor in chief of the SAGE Handbook of African American Education, co-editor of the Handbook of research on educational leadership for diversity and equity (with J. J. Scheurich) and co-editor of Identities and the educational leadership of Black women in the USA (with S. D. Horsford).
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