Faculty mentoring for full-time faculty has typically been viewed as a structured relationship between a junior faculty and a senior faculty or that between mid-level and senior faculty, both of which are related to career development and includes explicit activities and anticipated outcomes.

Mentoring benefits both the institution and the faculty

The mentoring of and between full-time faculty is expected to add value and benefits to the institution in numerous ways — in particular: increased teaching effectiveness, retention, recruitment, productivity, and satisfaction along with reduced faculty attrition.

Note the aforementioned benefits are ones that are directly accrued to the university. But for online faculty, whose ranks are made up primarily of part-time faculty, the benefits of mentoring programs should be more immediate to their success and should be directly beneficial to the success and retention of students taking courses online.

Mentoring online faculty toward professional growth

These authors have been mentoring part-time online faculty for more than a decade. And, through the mentoring program that has been designed and implemented for our mentees, the retention and effectiveness of our online faculty has soared!

So what’s unique about this mentoring model compared to that typically offered to full-time faculty? The answer: The focus of this mentoring program has been on the benefits to the part-time faculty members themselves — professional growth that is relevant to their online teaching and learning, strategies that make their teaching more effective and more enjoyable, the development of a sense of community and belonging that is oftentimes otherwise absent for part-time faculty, either online or on campus.

Why faculty mentoring matters: additional bonuses of effective mentoring

And what have we learned is the value to the institutions (or “organization”). A strengthening of the loyalty of these online instructors to the universities has been an enormous benefit to the continuous staffing of online courses with high quality, consistent faculty.

Rest assured that we are not going to give away “the secret sauce” of this highly successful mentoring program for online instructors in this blog! But we can share with you — as someone interested in online teaching and learning — that any such mentoring program should be based on intentional, purposeful support that is ongoing and regular. And those who serve as Mentors are guides to the institution and its culture, sources of best practices in pedagogy and, especially, role models for the faculty they mentor.

Quality mentoring for online faculty members is critical to providing quality instruction to students, which, in turn, will raise overall satisfaction and retention among both faculty and students.

Mentoring for online faculty matters!

Dr. Mary Jane Pearson is the Chief Academic Advisor for HotChalk. One of her notable accomplishments is the design of the highly successful model of support and mentoring for online higher education faculty, which has resulted in over 90% retention rate for online faculty, and an overall average of 4.5/5 faculty rating from student end-of-course evaluations. Dr. Pearson’s unique credentials as a teacher educator include chairing the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC), the largest educator licensing agency in the U.S., during which she co-authored the research on California’s beginning teacher support that has become the worldwide standard for the induction, mentoring and support of new teachers. In addition, Dr. Pearson was appointed by the U.S. President to serve as the Regional Representative for the U.S. Department of Education. In recognition of her service to education, Dr. Pearson was named California Teacher Educator of the Year. Dr. Pearson earned her PhD from the University of Kansas.

Dr. Gail Kirby is the Online Instructional Mentor for HotChalk and is a published subject matter expert in online higher education faculty support & mentoring. In addition, she is an Associate Professor of Special Education at Western Kentucky University. Dr. Kirby has 33 years of experience teaching P-12; over 25 years in higher education, including community college, and both private and public college and university settings. She earned her EdD from the University of San Francisco.