Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Leveraging a mentorship program in a complex system

Jami Holbein Swanson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The support a beginning teacher receives varies from school to school, and from district to district. When beginning teachers are not supported, their learning as teachers is not maximized. New teacher induction is the strategy most school districts employ to support new-hires. Current scholarship suggests the terms induction and mentor program are often used interchangeably, but actually have very different definitions. Mentors programs are one component of a comprehensive induction program; where as, an induction program is a series of events or activities in the beginning years of a teacher’s career. Effectively leveraging the mentorship program in a complex system meant creating the time and space for instructional conversations between new-hires, mentors and principals. How to create that space and time required examining and understanding the experiences of all stakeholders involved in the mentorship program and the district as a whole. This design research study implemented the Integrative Learning Design (ILD) framework proposed by Bannan-Ritland (2003) provided both the structure and flexibility to explore complex systems in naturalistic settings. The ILD is comprised of four stages: (a) Informed Exploration, (b) Enactment, (c) Evaluation: Local Impact, (d) Evaluation: Broader Impact. The informed exploration of this study included a review of the program history and a survey of the literature. Data collected for this study include archival data, 659 surveys of new-hire and mentor experiences, 232 classroom observations, and 6 focus interviews with principals. Findings from this design study indicated that creating the space for new-hires and mentors to learn and grow in a complex system means adapting to changes, dealing with conflict, and constantly asking ourselves as scholarly practitioners, “Why we are doing this?” and “Why we are doing this, this way?” as we work to impact policy and practice. Adaptations and iterations of the program will continue to as the mentorship program in this study evolves.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Holbein Swanson, Jami, "Leveraging a mentorship program in a complex system" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10248171.