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Authors: Tinoco-Giraldo, H.
Keywords: E-mentoring
Higher Education
Issue Date: 16-Sep-2021
Publisher: Grupo GRIAL
Abstract: Mentoring is a practice that supports learning, experimentation and helps students in Higher Education to develop their potential. A mentoring relationship is one in which both the mentor and mentee, recognize the need for professional and personal development. Thus, mentoring is beneficial for both individuals and institutions of Higher Education, as it is an activity that increases the commitment and academic talent of their students, facilitating the preparation for their personal and professional processes in the future. Its relevance is gaining ground in some Higher Education contexts, since in some cases and in some universities, their academic internships processes have been neglected and unprotected, especially focused on the support of internship coordination’s and inexperienced tutors, and without integrating tools that allow reaching explicit knowledge of the competency needs of their trainees. As is recognizable, the companions in the academic internship experience are the internship tutors, the business advisors and the internship coordination. From here on, the actions and support that occur will be decisive for the Practicum to acquire the formative element characteristic of any academic subject, which is not reflected in the current characteristics of the process. On the other hand, the reception at the internship site and the very process that this experience constitutes, can become invaluable and insignificant when there is no mentor with experience at the same practical level. The infrequency of interactions between these formative companions gradually suspends the ideas of formative evaluation of the Practicum. The lack of an appropriate and facilitating channel of communication between the trainee, the recognition of their academic and professional needs and their situation of abandonment in the internship company by their different tutors, raises the need to link mentoring in these processes. Students in internships need to learn aspects related to the context in which they find themselves, they need to recognize their professional competences and establish professional relationships with other subjects. Higher Education institutions could add support to these underrepresented academic groups of students, recognizing their academic, professional and practical needs, raising awareness of the importance and interest of mentoring in academic practice, and thus expanding the students' professional development opportunities. In this context, mentoring would articulate the improvement of learning, research and development of students in internships. Therefore, this research is interested in the role that mentoring can play as a strategy for academic and professional support in the academic internships of students in university degrees in social sciences and health sciences. Under this approach, this thesis aims to validate an e-mentoring model to stimulate the acquisition of professional competencies in students of academic internships, seeking to provide a safe academic and professional support environment where participants can share any critical problem that affects their professional and personal success. Thus, the "E-mentoring in academic internship programs" is designed following the ADDIE model (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation) and an evaluation process is carried out to verify its effectiveness. Therefore, in order to respond to the objective, a pre-posttest experimental study with a related group has been carried out to record the professional competencies in the training of the students of the different participating academic programs. For such process, two parts have been developed, firstly, a pilot study for the validation of the e-mentoring program generated, in a Colombian university with students of academic internship of a Marketing program. After the results achieved in this first study, the program is adapted and an experimental study is implemented, in which three academic programs from three universities (two Colombian and one American) are integrated, the same Marketing program, a Bachelor's degree program in technology and Computer Science from a Faculty of Education and a Medical program, respectively. As this was a pretest-posttest study, a competency evaluation rubric was used to assess the skills, dispositions and competency domains of the participants and a satisfaction survey designed to measure the impact of the program. After the data analysis implemented in both studies, it is highlighted that the competency levels of each participant sample improved after having implemented the mentoring program. A competency improvement is recognized in the post-test study and a positive recognition by the mentors of these improvements. Likewise, the level of satisfaction with the program is high, recognizing the implementation of the program, the resources used and the adequate training of the mentors. At the end of the study, it is considered relevant to highlight a series of recommendations. On the one hand, a replication study of this research to control to what extent the improvement in competencies is conducted by the mentoring program or by the practice process, with the inclusion of a control group that does not participate in the mentoring effect. On the other hand, other recommendations, at a more formative level, invite to explore the creation of formal mentoring programs that allow students of academic internships to participate in their own personal and professional development; at the level of process development, it is important to encourage and maintain mentoring in Higher Education institutions, informing of its professional and academic value.
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