Students' perceptions and experiences of mentoring : a case study of Umthombo Youth Development Foundation.
Introduction: This research was conducted in order to assess students’ perceptions and experiences of mentorship using the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation (UYDF) as a case study. The UYDF is a non-governmental organization that works towards addressing critical local needs and development challenges in rural areas. The organization invests in rural-based youth with potentials to train as healthcare professionals and willing to come back and serve their rural communities after their degrees’ completion. Methods: The study adopted a mixed method approach consisting of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Data was collected through questionnaires that were distributed to all eligible students funded by UYDF in 2014 (n= 109). The questionnaire comprised open-ended and closed-ended questions to ascertain the students’ perceptions and experiences of the UYDF mentoring model. A detailed descriptive data analysis was conducted through the use of SPSS version and a one-way ANOVA. Cross-sectional and quantitative approaches were used to assess the perceptions and experiences of the students. The quantitative approach yielded responses that enable the research process to evaluate the success or otherwise of the mentorship programme in terms of numeric responses. Qualitative data were analysed through NVIVO version 10. Results: The results were very diverse and subjective. Three themes derived from data to describe mentoring, viz: Advisor, Coach and Supervisor and there was no significant difference between the UYDF mentor and the local mentor, both were perceived as an Advisor and a Coach. The Consecutive One-Way ANOVA which was conducted for each statement showed that there was a statistically significant difference at the p< .05 level. Participants perceived UYDF mentoring process as useful and emphasized on coaching and advising as the most successful within mentoring process. Conclusion: both quantitative and qualitative analysis results confirmed that mentoring is a combination of coaching, advising and supervising. The respondents perceived the role of the UYDF mentorship as more of an advising and empowering role and less as a watchful supervisor. Their views around the success of the UYDF also reflect a value in having an Advisor and Coach. Most responses on the mentoring processes were positive at a p<.05. In particular participants found the following to be of value: orientation, goal setting, meeting up with others, the UYDF mentor sharing his experiences with them and information sharing around practical aspects such as time management and study techniques.