Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Carol A. Mullen, Ph.D.


Special education teacher, Mentor teacher, Novice teacher, Mentor program, Action research


This mixed-methods action research study explored the congruence between mentor and mentee perceptions of the importance and effectiveness of 12 district-specific focus areas of mentor support. While reviewing current data pertaining to teacher attrition, the researcher observed a limited availability of investigations relating to the perceived role of the mentor teacher based on the experiences and observations of both the novice and mentor teacher.The target population for this study was 70 novice and mentor special education teachers during the 2005--2006 school year employed at 13 middle schools in a school district located in Florida. Of the 70 beginning and mentor teachers, 4 mentor teachers and 2 novice teachers from 4 of the 13 middle schools within the district volunteered to participate.

The mentor and mentee teachers who chose to take part were not mentoring pairs during the 2005--2006 school year.Obtaining Institutional Review Board approval, the researcher contacted middle school principals to attain administrative support for the study. Novice and mentor middle school teachers alike were then contacted via postal mail requesting their participation. Concerted efforts were made to secure mentor--mentee participation.The researcher relied on multiple data collection methods---a demographic and multi-item survey for the novice and mentor teacher (Appendixes D & E) and standardized open-ended interview questions for the novice and mentor teacher (Appendixes F & G).

Lastly, the researcher conducted an analysis of pertinent district documents, more specifically thoroughly examining the information presented in the ESE Mentor Program Resource Manual for mentor and mentee teachers.The major findings of this study include the following: (1) formal and informal mentoring of beginning special education teachers by experienced mentors and colleagues is a useful and productive endeavor; (2) ESE paperwork demands are rigorous for novice teacher; (3) the needs and concerns of ESE teachers vary based on classroom assignment and student population, and (4) the ESE Mentor Program Resource Manual provided useful information referencing the 12 areas of mentor support for beginning special educators, but did little to guide mentor and novice teachers in facilitating the mentoring process.