Best practices in mentoring: complexities and possibilities

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe the complexity that underlies categorizing best practices in the field of mentoring. A further purpose is to propose a way to deal with this issue in order to begin to develop and identify research-based best practices in mentoring in education. Design/methodology/approach – This is a conceptual paper proposing a structure for identifying best practices in mentoring. Findings – The field of mentoring is replete with suggestions about best practices in education, but many are unsubstantiated by empirical research. The authors believe this is due in part to the breath of mentoring resulting in the use of so many different terms, conceptualizations, and applications that it is difficult for practitioners to converse about mentoring and for researchers to synthesize what is already known. They suggest an additional problem is the ambiguity regarding the term best practice. The authors cite these challenges and offer suggests for defining best practices and synthesizing the literature across contexts. Originality/value – The value of the paper is in the awareness it creates and in the possibilities it presents. By outlining the complex factors related to mentoring best practices, scholars will better understand the constraints that limit our ability to harness all that is known about mentoring best practices. Further, the authors offer a unique way to approach this task, utilizing a collaborative team approach across contexts.