The relationship between selected mentor behaviors and supervisory approach between faculty and their graduate student assistants

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Faculty mentorship is considered an important component of graduate education. Faculty supervisors of graduate student assistants are in a unique position to enhance the personal and career development of their supervisees. Yet, little is known about the relationship between supervision and mentorship in graduate education.

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between mentoring behavior and supervisory approach as reported by faculty supervisors of graduate student assistants at Virginia Tech. Data were collected using the Mentor Behaviors Questionnaire and Supervisory Approach Inventory and analyzed using analysis of variance.

The findings suggested that faculty provided career mentoring behaviors as a result of academic culture and the perceived role of faculty rather than the influence of gender, prior mentoring experience, or length of relationship. However, faculty with no prior mentoring experience, might be unaware of the value of psychosocial mentoring in promoting personal development of their assistants, especially in male-male relationships. A positive relationship between synergistic supervision and mentoring was established which suggested that productive supervisory practices and mentoring behavior were similar. Faculty who had more contact with students reported higher levels of career mentoring. Reward and recognition were suggested as incentives for increasing student contact which might foster career mentoring. Surprisingly, graduate assistant supervisors reported higher rates of mentoring behaviors than teaching or research assistant supervisors, thus challenging the commonly held perception that research assistants were more likely to receive mentoring support from faculty than other types of assistants.

The information generated by this study is useful in identifying faculty behaviors associated with mentorship and establishing the link between assistantship supervision and mentorship opportunity. Student affairs and graduate education professionals may find that the implementation of faculty mentor training programs is a useful tool in promoting the psychosocial and career development of students.



mentor, supervisory approach, faculty, graduate student assistant