Agents of Change: Pathways through Which Mentoring Relationships Influence Adolescents' Academic Adjustment

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Abstract

A conceptual model was tested in which the effects of mentoring relationships on adolescents' academic outcomes were hypothesized to be mediated partially through improvements in parental relationships. The parameters of the model were compared with those of an alternative, in which improved parental relationships were treated as an outcome variable rather than a mediator. The study included 959 young adolescents (M age = 12.25 years), all of whom applied to Big Brothers Big Sisters programs. The adolescents were randomly assigned to either the treatment or control group and administered questions at baseline and 18 months later. The hypothesized model provided a significantly better explanation of the data than the alternative. In addition to improvements in parental relationships, mentoring led to reductions in unexcused absences and improvements in perceived scholastic competence. Direct effects of mentoring on global self-worth, school value, and grades were not detected but were instead mediated through improved parental relationships and scholastic competence. Implications of the findings for theory and research are discussed.

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