Thirty-seven (37) faculty participated in the study, 67.6% (n=25) were male and 32.4% (n=12) were female. The faculty had a range of teaching experiences at MaKCHS. 8.1% (n=3) were Professors, and 13.5% (n=5) were Associate Professors, 24.3% (n=9) were Senior Lecturers, 32.4% (n=12) were Lecturers and 21.6% (n=8) were Assistant Lecturers. Although all the 37 participating faculty had heard about mentorship, less than half (37.8%, n=14) had received some more form of training in mentorship beyond the induction training session participated in as newly recruited faculty. Those that had received some more training on mentorship reported varied sources ranging from short meetings about mentorship, training workshops and conference attendance on mentorship sessions. Slightly more than half (59.6%, n=22) of the participants had previously acted as either formal or informal mentors through either formal appointment as mentors or as informal requests from students to be their mentors. When asked about their self-reported competency in mentorship, less than half of the participants (35.1%, n=13) rated themselves as being competent, 27% (n=10) of them were neutral and the rest of the participating faculty (37.8%, n=14) rated themselves as being less competent. When asked whether they need more training in student mentorship, all participating faculty (100%) reported that they would welcome more training in mentorship in order for them to effectively mentor students.
Four key themes emerged from the data. These included: 1) Knowledge of mentorship, 2) Attitude towards mentorship, 3) Practices of mentorship and 4) Improving the mentorship process.
Knowledge of mentorship
From the findings in this study, it generally appeared like the faculty had less knowledge about mentorship and there was need to boost their formal knowledge of mentorship. The following responses reflected this theme.
“I have always heard about mentorship from my colleagues and students as well. I was even allocated students to mentor…however, I did not know how to start and what steps to follow as I mentor the students….as a result, the relationship never really worked out….”
“I have personally read about mentorship and tried to practice it. However, I am not sure if what am practising is really mentorship or not. I got assigned students to mentor, but got stuck somewhere because I did not figure out how this whole mentorship thing will go besides having many students allocated to me. Perhaps we need some training first before students can be thrown on to us…..I also got into a fix whether as a research supervisor, I was indirectly mentoring.”
The few faculty who had some knowledge about mentorship had received such knowledge through short meetings and short training workshops.
“The College has previously organized some meetings where mentorship was talked about. Not all faculty attend these meetings. However, such meetings are also short and I myself would have preferred continued refresher training in mentorship. Mentorship is an important process in developing our students and we are required to be good mentors. However, am not sure if am good mentor…I need more training on my roles as a mentor and what I expect from students and vice versa from this mentorship relationships.”
The responses above therefore indicate that while many of the faculty who participated in the study had less knowledge about mentorship, a few had some level of knowledge which they had received through short organized meetings on mentorship.
Attitude towards mentorship
Findings from the study generally reflected a positive attitude of faculty towards mentorship. There was a common denominator of faculty willingness to participate in mentoring students provided they have been given the skills to become effective mentors. This was reflected in the following responses:
“I am more than ready and interested in mentoring students provided I have the skills. Right now, I am just learning on job sort of because I was also not mentored…..if the College can organize some training sessions and we get the skills, I am happy to mentor my students effectively.”
“Mentorship is not bad and am sure many staff here in the College would like to be good mentors. The challenge is that we ourselves probably do not know how to mentor very well because no one taught us. It is the same with teaching since no one taught us how to teach well. So if I am trained for example in how to be a good mentor and what mentorship entails, I am willing and ready to be a good mentor.”
“I always interact with undergraduate students on the ward and teach them as long as they find me there. Is that part of mentorship? I am not sure….but if that is part of mentorship then I can say I mentor. If not, am willing to learn more about effective mentorship so that my students can achieve maximum benefit.”
The positive attitude to get involved in student mentorship seemed to also be influenced by the current institutional willingness to form a formal mentorship structure and actively involve faculty in the student mentorship process
“The College has the will to develop mentorship in this institution and I remember there was a mentorship committee sometime back that even developed some form of guidelines on mentorship. The problem is that these remained on paper….if we can revive this, I am more than ready to participate again in student mentorship because it is an important process and this is where the world is going….”
Practice of mentorship
There were mixed findings regarding the practice of mentorship by faculty. Practice in this context would relate to faculty actively getting involved in mentoring students and ensure that these mentorship relationships succeed. Some of the faculty reported to have participated in some formal mentorship of students allocated to them as reflected below.
“I remember sometime back I was allocated some undergraduate students to mentor by the College coordination office. It was good at the beginning, but later I lost touch with the students. I do not know whether I was a bad a bad mentor and students decided to run away….”
“I have been a mentor before for students when they rotate in my department and these have been allocated to me by my Head of Department. I tried to give them my time…..many have succeeded and some of them keep consulting me on certain issues up to now….”
Some of the other faculty seemed to have initiated informal mentorship relationships with the students within their respective departments. The following responses represent this observation.
“I have tried to identify students who are interested in working with me and encouraged them to consult on a range of issues including academics, challenges and any support that I might give them to make their experience in the department better. Would you call this mentorship...I am not very sure.”
“I and a few colleagues in our research labs have always worked with students especially those interested in pursuing a research career. In the process, they have acquired key research skills…..nobody assigned these students to us but we just identify them and we supervise them as they o lab work. This can be a form of mentorship.”
Further interrogation of the findings revealed that perhaps the limited knowledge on what mentorship entails might have had an influence to the reported practices of some faculty. For example, all faculty that participated in the study had interacted with students. However, some of them were not sure as to whether this interaction meant they were engaged in mentorship or not. The following responses contextualize this thinking:
“I have always been with students in the tutorials and on the wards. During our engagement, I have taught them and encouraged them to ask questions if they needed clarification. I think I was mentoring them during these meetings….maybe I can be corrected on this.”
“Many of us including myself have been supervising our students on the wards and in the labs during practicals and we always guide them to learn. Therefore as a supervisor, am indirectly mentoring them as well.”
The above findings also indicate a key misconception between mentorship and supervision among the faculty.
Improving the mentorship process
Another common thread that swept through the interviews with faculty related to improving the mentorship process. Through the faculty responses, suggestions for improving the mentorship process emerged. Key among these included: continuous training of faculty in mentorship, creating awareness among students about mentorship, use of peer mentorship where senior students do mentor junior students, institutionalizing mentorship such that there is a formal mentorship structure with specific guidelines for the faculty to follow, ensuring that all faculty participate by allocating them mentors in addition to those independently identified on their own and conducting periodic evaluation and quality assurance checks to get feedback from faculty and students so as to continuously improve the mentorship process. The following responses reflect some of the above suggestions.
“I think the most important thing is continuous training of us the teachers about mentorship. Many of us were neither formally mentored nor formally trained in mentorship and therefore cannot apply it to our students effectively. We need training of faculty in effective mentorship.”
“There is need to sensitize students about mentorship as well. I would thus recommend may be meetings with students to talk to them about mentorship before being allocated mentors….in addition, we are few as faculty and so training senior students to act as mentors to junior students can also be explored”
“Institutional buy-in along with mentorship guidelines are key aspects I would advise that can improve our mentoring practices. If mentorship guidelines do exist in this College, I have not seen them yet, if not, guidelines need to be drafted by experts so that they can assist us to effectively mentor our students.”
The responses above relate to key suggestions for improving the mentorship process, the key being continued training and use of guidelines availed to faculty.