Mentoring Model for Activating Learning and Growth
Our model for guiding mentoring
We train our mentors to emphasize three key elements in their interactions
with mentees. The three elements align the mentors’ interactions with
cognitive learning needs of the mentees. The three elements of interaction
|Exploring: The mentor asks increasingly deep
questions in order to surface prior knowledge.|
|Enabling: The mentor asks questions that aid
the student in correcting or refining their knowledge.|
|Infusing: The mentor provides unknown
information only as the mentee needs it.|
The figure below diagrams these three key elements of interaction.
We have found that building mentoring interactions with these three
elements not only activates learning, but also builds strong mentor-mentee
rapport. The rapport is strengthened as the mentor and mentee collaboratively
focus on the learning challenge. Rapport is even further strengthened as the
mentor uses the mentee’s approach at the mentee’s level of understanding.
The elements of interaction, exploring, enabling, and infusing, naturally
lead the mentor to building rapport in this fashion. The figure below
diagrams how rapport is built.
Metacognition and Meaningful Learning
Goal: Create the strongest MEANINGFUL LEARNING
environment we can in ME223.
Method: Collaboratively use the best ideas of all
mentors. Design it; try it; reflect; redesign it.
Background: Experts are frequently strong in
metacognition. They are not only good at their task, but they are also good at
monitoring how well they are performing their task. An expert will keep track
of not just the details, but how the details fit together. This monitoring of
one’s progress against a task is called “metacognition.”
Novices, by contrast, are weak in metacognition. Just
getting the task done uses all of their brainpower and attention. However,
metacognition is important for learning. Little metacognition = little
Opportunity: You mentors can provide external
metacognition for the students as they are learning. My (Steve’s) hunch is that
if you provide external metacognition the students will learn faster and deeper.
Framework: Benjamin Bloom described learning in a
hierarchy (taxonomy). The table below is an elaborate definition of his
taxonomy. Don’t try to read and remember the whole thing! Let me lead you
through the simple structure:
- The first level of the taxonomy is Knowledge—simply
learning the facts. This is where the learner begins. Mastery of some
facts is important, but wouldn’t be good except to pass a poorly written
history exam. So ask yourself, “how do you recognize an important fact from
an unimportant one?” This question moves you to the second level of Bloom’s
- Level two is Comprehension—understanding what
the facts mean. Notice that level two of the taxonomy will help make sense
of the first level. A collection of facts (level one) can be organized by
comprehending them (level two). Now ask yourself, “I understand the stuff,
but why should I care?” This question moves you to the third level of
- Level three is Application—using the
comprehension of the facts that were learned. Notice that level three of
the taxonomy will help make sense of the second level. One way a learner
can assign value to what they comprehend (level two) is by applying it
(level three) to real problems.
- Each succeeding level in the taxonomy follows the same
pattern. Level “N” can be understood best by looking at level “N+1”.
Recall of data.
a policy. Quote prices from memory to a customer. Knows the safety
Key Words: defines, describes, identifies, knows, labels, lists,
matches, names, outlines, recalls, recognizes, reproduces, selects,
Understand the meaning, translation, interpolation, and
interpretation of instructions and problems. State a problem in
one's own words.
Rewrites the principles of test writing. Explain in one’s own words
the steps for performing a complex task. Translates an equation into
a computer spreadsheet.
comprehends, converts, defends, distinguishes, estimates, explains,
extends, generalizes, gives examples, infers, interprets,
paraphrases, predicts, rewrites, summarizes, translates.
Use a concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an
abstraction. Applies what was learned in the classroom into novel
situations in the workplace.
Examples: Use a
manual to calculate an employee’s vacation time. Apply laws of
statistics to evaluate the reliability of a written test.
applies, changes, computes, constructs, demonstrates, discovers,
manipulates, modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, produces,
relates, shows, solves, uses.
Separates material or concepts into component parts so that its
organizational structure may be understood. Distinguishes between
facts and inferences.
Troubleshoot a piece of equipment by using logical deduction.
Recognize logical fallacies in reasoning. Gathers information from a
department and selects the required tasks for training.
analyzes, breaks down, compares, contrasts, diagrams, deconstructs,
differentiates, discriminates, distinguishes, identifies,
illustrates, infers, outlines, relates, selects, separates.
Builds a structure or pattern from diverse elements. Put parts
together to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or
a company operations or process manual. Design a machine to perform
a specific task. Integrates training from several sources to solve a
problem. Revises and process to improve the outcome.
categorizes, combines, compiles, composes, creates, devises,
designs, explains, generates, modifies, organizes, plans,
rearranges, reconstructs, relates, reorganizes, revises, rewrites,
summarizes, tells, writes.
Make judgments about the value of ideas or materials.
the most effective solution. Hire the most qualified candidate.
Explain and justify a new budget.
appraises, compares, concludes, contrasts, criticizes, critiques,
defends, describes, discriminates, evaluates, explains, interprets,
justifies, relates, summarizes, supports.
Meaningful Learning and Bloom’s Taxonomy: One
aspect of meaningful learning is that the learner integrates their knowledge
through a few Bloom’s levels. For example: when a student learns only names and
dates in history, the learning is shallow. The learner has only learned at
Bloom’s level one. However if the student learns the names and dates, how the
events inter-relate, and then uses that understanding to interpret other
simultaneous events, the learning is much more profound. (I wish I learned
history like that!)
Metacognition and Bloom’s Taxonomy: Experts will
use (subconsciously) the various levels of Bloom’s taxonomy to regulate their
work. When they have a question about a fact (level one), they will ask
themselves a question about the fact’s accuracy by how they understand the facts
(level two). When they have a question about their understanding (level two),
they will ask themselves a question about how they apply their understanding
Mentor’s External Metacognitive Role: You can
provide the metacognition the learners don’t have. Here’s how I would like you
- Read over the student’s task in the lab handout.
- Decide what Bloom’s level the students will be working
at (lost in details = level 1, can’t understand details = level 2, can’t
apply understanding = level 3, etc.).
- Jot down the student activities and mark with the
appropriate Bloom’s level.
- Formulate questions that cause the students to explain
what they are doing (so you understand).
- Formulate significant questions that cause the
students to explain what they are doing in terms of the “N+1” level of
Bloom’s taxonomy. These questions form your action plan.