Mentoring is in the 'I' of the beholder: supporting mentors in reflecting on their actual and preferred way of mentoring

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



BMC medical education








Critical reflection; Faculty development; Mentoring; Personal interpretative framework


BACKGROUND: An important strategy to support the professional development of mentors in health professions education is to encourage critical reflection on what they do, why they do it, and how they do it. Not only the 'how' of mentoring should be covered, but also the implicit knowledge and beliefs fundamental to the mentoring practice (a mentor's personal interpretative framework). This study analyzed the extent to which mentors perceive a difference between how they actually mentor and how they prefer to mentor. METHODS: The MERIT (MEntor Reflection InstrumenT) survey (distributed in 2020, N = 228), was used to ask mentors about the how, what, and why of their mentoring in two response modes: (1) regarding their actual mentoring practice and (2) regarding their preferred mentoring practice. With an analysis of covariance, it was explored whether potential discrepancies between these responses were influenced by experience, profession of the mentor, and curriculum-bound assessment requirements. RESULTS: The averaged total MERIT score and averaged scores for the subscales 'Supporting Personal Development' and 'Monitoring Performance' were significantly higher for preferred than for actual mentoring. In addition, mentors' experience interacted significantly with these scores, such that the difference between actual and preferred scores became smaller with more years of experience. CONCLUSIONS: Mentors can reflect on their actual and preferred approach to mentoring. This analysis and the potential discrepancy between actual and preferred mentoring can serve as input for individual professional development trajectories.


Health, Human Function, and Rehabilitation Sciences