UVa. Receives Grant to Measure Long-Term Impact of Mentoring Young Women

Jan. 28, 2014

Researchers at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education are working to measure the positive impacts of mentoring young women, and how long those effects last.

Three Curry School faculty members and a postdoctoral student received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to measure the long-term impact of UVa.’s Young Women Leaders Program on participating adolescent girls.

The mentoring program pairs UVa. female students with local middle schools girl for a year of group and one-on-one mentoring, and is designed to support and enhance the sense of competence of both the college students and the middle school girls through the promotion of leadership skills.

The program was founded at UVa. in 1997 by Edith “Winx” Lawrence, a professor in clinical and school psychology at the Curry School, and Kimberly Roberts, then a graduate student working at the UVa. Women’s Center.

Lawrence, along with Curry School faculty colleagues Nancy Deutsch and Joanna Lee Williams, and Valerie Futch, a postdoctoral fellow with Youth-Nex: The UVa. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, will conduct a long-term follow-up study on the middle school participants’ academic, social and emotional outcomes.

In 2007, Lawrence, Deutsch and their Young Women Leaders Program research team received a three-year, $500,000 Department of Education grant to research the program’s effects immediately after the mentees completed the program in seventh grade. The new grant allows the team to look at the same girls – some now high school seniors – and compare them to a control group of girls who did not complete the program.

“We are interested in whether the program has an impact on participants beyond their initial participation in middle school,” Deutsch said.

At the time of the original study, teachers and administrators nominated 333 sixth-graders with leadership potential whom they deemed as being at risk for possible academic, social or emotional issues. The nominees were randomly selected to either participate in the program or to serve as part of the control group as seventh-graders.

At the end of their senior years, researchers will survey both groups of students about their academic, social, emotional and behavioral outcomes. Their academic transcripts will be reviewed, and their teachers will be asked to fill out surveys about the students’ academic and behavioral characteristics. Finally, researchers will conduct in-person interviews with a sub-sample of girls and phone interviews with their former UVa. student mentors.

The follow-up surveys will be used to statistically compare intervention and control groups for evidence of long-term program effects, and the interviews will be used to help the researchers understand what happens in successful mentoring relationships from the perspective of mentors and mentees five years later.

The surveys will take place over the course of three years.

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