Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


First Advisor

Edmund T. Hamann

Date of this Version



Holbein Swanson, J. (2016). Leveraging a teacher mentorship program in a complex system (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Major: Education Studies (Teaching, Curriculum, and Learning), Under the Supervision of Professor Edmund T. Hamann. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2016

Copyright (c) 2016 Jami Holbein Swanson


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.

Adviser: Edmund T. Hamann