Mentoring and Communication

Theories and Practices

by Diana Trebing (Volume editor) Ahmet Atay (Volume editor)
Monographs VIII, 280 Pages


Although mentoring occupies a paramount role in higher education and is part of a faculty’s expected duties, nowadays increasingly so, it is not an area to which graduate schools pay close attention. There is no formalized training and faculty and graduate students alike are expected to know how to mentor effectively once they graduate or start a new teaching or administrative position. This book tackles two interrelated issues: the role and importance of mentoring in the communication discipline as well as critical/cultural studies and using critical communication to illuminate the ways in which students and junior faculty among others are mentored in higher education. The authors of these chapters present a position or an issue in regards to mentoring students and faculty or the lack of it in higher education. Their goal is to generate a scholarly discussion by utilizing qualitative and narrative-based research approaches and critical and cultural perspectives to promote awareness about the importance of mentoring. Additionally, the authors highlight some of the important issues in mentoring as a form of critical communication pedagogy and present some guidelines, ideas, and examples to mentor more effectively. This edited book will be helpful for various audiences. First, it will provide guidance for graduate students, junior and senior faculty members who are asked to mentor others at various stages of their academic careers. Second, it will help students and faculty who are currently trying to identify and work with mentors. And third, it gives ideas on what to do and not to do in successful mentor-mentee relationships.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Theoretical Approaches to Mentoring
  • section 1 Framing Mentoring
  • chapter 1 Secret Service: Revealing the Hidden Dynamics of Faculty Mentoring
  • chapter 2 Mentoring New Faculty in an Age of Neoliberalism
  • chapter 3 Dwelling in Revolutionary Intimacies: Performing Mentoring and/as Reflexivity
  • chapter 4 One Class Can Make a Difference: The Intersecting Paths of Mentoring Friendship
  • chapter 5 Collaborative Cultural Mentoring: An Academic Compass
  • chapter 6 Being a Spoilsport: The Feminist Killjoy as Critical Mentor
  • chapter 7 Informal and Formal Mentoring of Faculty at Undergraduate Teaching Institutions
  • chapter 8 Mentoring and “The Space of Communicative Praxis”: Theorizing Mentoring as Everyday Practice
  • Section 2 Mentoring in Contexts
  • chapter 9 All I Really Need to Know about Mentoring I Learned from Yoga
  • chapter 10 Mentoring, Emotional Labor and Risk in Academia: Exploring What We Really Learn Through Research Through a Lens of Critical Communication Pedagogy
  • chapter 11 Mentoring as an Alternative Motive for College Student Communication with Their Instructors
  • chapter 12 Subversive Spaces, Embodied Places and Mentoring as Onto-Epistemology
  • chapter 13 Equitable Mentorship as Engaged Scholarship in Concurrent Enrollment Programs
  • Contributors
  • Index

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Introduction: Theoretical Approaches to Mentoring

Ahmet Atay and Diana Trebing

Over the years, as the editors of this book, we had several deep and meaningful conversations about mentoring. Since we both graduated from the same doctoral program, our conversations allowed us to remember mentoring that we received, mentoring that we wish we had, and types of mentoring that we did not want to have. These ongoing conversations not only allowed us to reflect on mentoring as an act and as a relationship, but they also enabled us to co-construct a narrative that helped us to become more effective, mindful, advocate-centered, and culturally attuned mentors. We are not perfect mentors by any means, but we are willing to have these much-needed conversations and discussions about mentors and mentoring, and more importantly, who is doing mentoring, who is being mentored, and who is left behind. These conversations are the premise of this book. The joys and frustrations related to these discussions led us to organize panels at regional and national conferences, and also pushed us to take leadership and mentoring roles to mentor others, including undergraduate and graduate students, and junior faculty within and outside of our immediate contexts. We believe that mentoring plays a crucial role in academic settings for undergraduate and graduate students as well as junior and mid-career faculty. This book embodies these commitments.

Although we carried out informal conversations about how much we were or were not mentored, together we also had conversations about the ways in which ←1 | 2→we are mentoring students, especially international students thanks to our own international backgrounds, and junior faculty as we move up in departmental and academic structures. These conversations planted the seed of this book. For several years, we have also organized panels on different aspects of mentoring and had an opportunity to present our work along with others at National Communication Association (NCA) and Central States Communication Association (CSCA) conferences. The conversations we had at these conventions helped us to build the structure for this project. Along the way, we also mentored each other and others, and we were being mentored by other scholars who joined us in the discussions at these conferences. Therefore, this book is an outcome of years’ worth of labor and conversations.

While our experiences overlapped and intersected, we came to this project via different routes and because of different reasons. We both needed to understand how mentoring works or does not work, but also how to be effective and respectful mentors. We are self-reflexive, and we also know that this project helped us to be and become better mentors. We also believe that it is important to situate ourselves and briefly tell the reader our own individual investments in this project.


I came to this project because I was hurting. I also came to this project because I wanted to create an academic space for communication scholars and for myself to understand different shapes and shades of mentoring. I did not realize the importance of mentors in the lives of graduate students and junior faculty, until I decided to face my own pain and reflect on my own scholarly identity. I also wanted to grow as a mentor while I mentored numerous undergraduate students and stepped into the chair’s position post-tenure. This transition meant that I needed to be a better mentor, especially for historically marginalized students and faculty. Partially, I came to this to heal. From my own experiences, I know that mindful and successful mentoring can put individuals into different and more productive trajectories and in the absence of that kind of mentoring students and faculty could experience the hurdles of academic life. I wish that this book will provide a framework and hope for those of us who are in need of mentors, want to understand the role of mentors and mentoring in academic settings, want to become better mentors, and also provide information and stories for those who feel alone in the academic wilderness.


I came to this project with many questions about mentoring. What / who is a good mentor? What characteristics should a good mentor have? What are formal / informal ways of mentoring? Why is mentoring so important? Who are my role models in mentoring? As a first-generation student, I did not receive a lot of guidance when I enrolled at my ←2 | 3→undergraduate institution in Germany and did not even consider seeking out a mentor, nor did I understand the importance of having one or more mentors. For the first year or so, I struggled to adjust; not because of my course work or classes, but because I wasn’t sure how to connect with others or what the whole point of all the course work was in the first place. I was afraid of failure and, even worse, to have to admit this failure to my family. At the end of that first year, I met, literally, a friend of a friend who took me under her wings. It wasn’t until much later that I figured out that she had mentored me, informally and quite successfully, during those years. To this day, she is a role model when I try to mentor others. Although this is a positive memory related to mentoring, I could write about many more negative ones; however, I choose not to because it makes me sad. I had to learn the hard way that needing mentors does not stop after graduation; mentors are important at all stages of academic life. I hope that this book provides some guidelines and ideas for those of us who are looking for different and more effective ways of mentoring students and colleagues at various stages of their careers.

In the remaining portion of this introductory chapter, we provide a brief literature review on mentoring, define the notion of mentor, discuss different types and forms of mentoring, and finally provide an overview of the structure and content of this edited book.

Mentoring Scholarship

Mentoring as a research topic has been previously examined by communication scholars, mainly by scholars in communication education, instructional communication, communication pedagogy (Borisoff, 1998; Buell, 2004; Carpenter et al., 2015; Kalbfleisch, 2002; Kalbfleisch & Davies, 1993; Moore et al., 2013; Schrodt et al., 2003; Waldeck et al., 1997) and to a degree by scholars who write about diversity-related issues in educational contexts (Calafell, 2007; Calafell & Gutierrez-Perez, 2018; Hao et al., 2012; Harris & Lee, 2019; Kalbfleisch & Davies, 1993). However, this literature is not expansive. The topic is also popular beyond the boundaries of communication studies. Scholars in education, psychology, women and gender studies, critical race studies or Black studies, and other disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas write about mentoring as a process and about mentors as important figures in one’s academic life. Most of this research is carried out by scholars who employ social scientific or interpretive methods. However, mentoring has not been widely studied by critical scholars in the communication discipline. We hope that this book will fill that void.←3 | 4→

While some of the previous scholarship looked at mentoring in the context of undergraduate students and undergraduate education in general, others focused on issues pertaining to graduate students, junior faculty, mid-career faculty or faculty from historically marginalized communities. Together, these researchers created different frameworks for studying mentoring from disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives (Eby et al., 2008; Eby et al., 2013).

The majority of research on mentoring at the undergraduate level focuses on various forms of peer mentoring. In peer mentoring, advanced students at a university or in a specific major provide support to incoming freshmen in order to integrate them successfully into the university culture. This kind of mentoring has been associated with increased student retention, better learning experiences, and the development of stronger interpersonal skills among others (Burton et al., 2013; Crisp & Cruz, 2009; Eggens et al., 2007; Fox & Stevenson, 2006; Terrion & Leonard, 2007). More specific research on mentoring has focused on the benefits and challenges of peer mentoring programs (Gunn et al., 2017), virtual forms of peer mentoring (Smailes & Gannon-Leary, 2011), and using mentoring to transition into and out of college (James, 2019; Phillips & Adams, 2019). Other researchers focus on mentoring specific student populations such as undergraduate women (Putsche et al., 2008; Sullivan & Moore, 2013), students with disabilities (Hillier et al., 2019; Jones & Goble, 2012) or international students and students of color (Barker, 2007; Shalka et al., 2019).

Apart from a focus on mentoring undergraduate students, other researchers examined mentoring in the context of graduate education. In this context, scholars examined topics such as mentoring programs, mentor selection, the nature of mentoring relationships between mentor and mentee, and most importantly what is needed to survive graduate school, the dissertation phase, publishing, and securing a tenure-track job (Carpenter et al., 2015; Figueroa & Rodriguez, 2015; Hao et al., 2012; Harris & Lee, 2019; Humble et al., 2006; Waldeck et al., 1997). While some of this research provided tools on how to be a successful mentor and focused on the joys of mentoring, others focused on the challenges related to not being mentored.

Scholars in different disciplines also looked at the role of mentoring in the lives of junior faculty, and several topics emerged as crucial themes from their research. Among these themes are the effectiveness of mentoring in junior faculty members’ lives and their academic trajectories, topics related to guidance and feedback in publishing, negotiating academic power structures, balancing service and teaching responsibilities, achieving work-life balance, and coping with academic loneliness (Alexander, 1992; Angelique et al., 2002; Borisoff, 1998; Dutton et al., 2017; Eddy & Gaston-Gayles, 2008; Kalbfleisch, 2002; Kerssen-Griep, ←4 | 5→2013; Meyer & Warren-Gordon, 2013; Pérez & Pasque, 2013; Schrodt et al., 2003; Searby & Collins, 2010).


VIII, 280
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (May)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. VIII, 280 pp., 2 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Diana Trebing (Volume editor) Ahmet Atay (Volume editor)

Diana Trebing (Ph.D., Southern Illinois University–Carbondale) is Professor of Communication at Saginaw Valley State University. She is the co-author of The Discourse of Special Populations: Critical Intercultural Communication Pedagogy and Practice. Ahmet Atay (Ph.D., Southern Illinois University–Carbondale) is Associate Professor of Communication at the College of Wooster. He is the author of Globalization’s Impact on Identity Formation: Queer Diasporic Males in Cyberspace and the co-editor of 11 books, including Queer Communication Pedagogy. His scholarship has appeared in a number of journals and edited books.


Title: Mentoring and Communication