Tuesday, June 18, 2019

When skilled teachers mentor interns, they both improve, reveals study by Matthew Ronfeldt


A study completed by SOE professor Matthew Ronfeldt and doctoral students Stacey Brockman, Emanuele Bardelli, and Hannah Mullman investigated the relationship between mentor teachers and intern teachers. They discovered that, in many cases, teachers were concerned that having a less experienced teacher in their classroom might make their own teaching look worse during evaluations. They also worried that the quality of their lessons could decrease or even lead to less student achievement. However, the researchers found that this is not the case.

Ronfeldt and his team discovered that mentoring an intern teacher does not negatively impact a teacher’s evaluation score. In fact, effective mentor teachers received much higher observation ratings than teachers without interns to mentor. They also saw slightly better achievement gains in their classrooms.

“We wanted to see if we could recruit more instructionally effective teachers to work with students,” said Ronfeldt, “but we wanted to make sure that there wouldn't be any unintended consequences because of this. One of the concerns expressed was that those instructors who were shown to be effective were afraid their evaluation scores would be harmed.”

The team also discovered that interns were better served when they were paired with instructionally effective teachers. When they began their careers as teachers of record, they were more prepared and effective.

In all, the study revealed that exceptional teachers should be mentoring students because doing so can improve their own teaching and help create another generation of effective educators.

Matthew Ronfeldt is Associate Professor

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