Currently, there are two types of peer mentoring programs running in the University of Warwick, including peer mentoring (colleagues mentoring one another) and group mentoring (a mentor or more mentoring several mentees). The pairing up process is done manually.
Generally, the practice of mentor and mentee matching is believed to be a tricky and challenging process but of vital importance to a successful peer mentoring scheme. Therefore, attention needs to be paid to ensure the best quality of this starting point for a better outcome of the whole mentoring scheme. Various elements need to be considered. However, it is noted that there is no best way of practice but just a more suitable way for a specific peer mentoring scheme with a proper and sound consideration of the following matching practices.
Current matching practices
- Matching by common ground
- How to: Both mentors and mentees complete a similar form to tell information about themselves and their interests/hobbies, experiences etc. Like matching students with similar personality together; mature students together; international students with international students…
- Why: Research into other similar schemes has shown that this can be a helpful way of ensuring that peer mentor relationships get off to a positive start.
- Matching by personal preferences
- How to: Both mentors and mentees are asked just little questions like e a preference on a male or a female mentor, degree program, gender, ethnicity, age …
- Why: When there is a dominant gender/nationality in the composition of mentees or mentors, it is usually better to ask for personal preferences before the matching process. For example, it has been found that female students from countries like the UAE and Oman prefer a female mentor. Meanwhile, emphasis shall also be put on the issue of inclusion of participants of different gender/nationality/ethnicity/age.
- Matching by mentee’s needs and mentor’s expertise
- How to: Question could be asked include: what would you like help with specifically (for mentees)? Or what would the focus that you would like to have on the meetings (for mentees) or what do you think you can help your peers with? (for mentors).
- Why: some join a mentoring scheme with a specific goal and needs/expertise and hence they would like these to be considered when pairing up them with someone else.
- Matching by specific principle
- How to: when there is a big cohort of mentees with almost equal number of genders and relatively less mentors of same mentors, the principle of mixed-gender group mentoring is used to pair one male and one female mentor and then a mix of male and female in the mentees.
- Why: This happens when there is a mix of male and female students and a large number of students as mentees, with a fixed focus at different stages of the mentoring process. Also, the time for the matching process is quite limited.
Tips to avoid problems
Pairing-up is never an easy process and it can be also time-consuming. However, a better-matching initially is often recommended by various peer-mentoring scheme facilitators in different departments and organizations across the university. Here are some hot tips drawn from focus group discussion on matching process include:
- Efforts need to be made to ensure that the matching is a more personalized one
- It is better to offer one-to-one mentoring than a group mentoring
- If it is possible, it is better to organize a social activity for mentors and mentees before the matching process
- Expectations and boundaries need to be made clear to both mentors and mentees
- Data-based software may be helpful for a mentoring project with a big cohort.
Pairing-up forms available online
- Mentee pre-match questionnaire (2 pages, mainly including needs and personality questions)
- Mentee matching form (1 page, mainly including career goal, hobbies and personality)
- Mentor/Mentee Activities and Interests (mentor form)(4 pages, mainly including personal details, background, personality, criminal background and questionnaire)
- Mentor/mentee matching survey(Mentee form): (2 pages, mainly including personal details, personality data and questionnaire)
- ASHRAE YEA Mentoring Matching Survey (2 pages, including personal information, preferred way of communication, matching priorities, and biography)
- MENTEE MATCHING QUESTIONNAIRE (1 page, very simple including matching preferences and personality) – London Clay Art Cenntre)
- Sample Mentee/Mentor Matching Process Template, The University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia
- TIPS FOR MATCHING MENTORS & MENTEES, international association of insurance professionals
Inspiring readings on mentoring scheme with the element of matching mentioned
- Mentoring Handbook of Good Practice, Birkbeck, University of London
- Women Researchers Mentoring Scheme (WRMS) Handbook, University of the West of England
- Matching mentor to mentee – international innovation, College of Education, the University of Saskatchewan, Canada
- Organizational development for university staff Mentoring Scheme, University of Sussex