Training Overview Mentoring Model Curriculum Rubrics Roles/Practices/Photos  

Mentoring Model for Activating Learning and Growth

Our model for guiding mentoring interactions…

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 are:

bulletExploring: The mentor asks increasingly deep questions in order to surface prior knowledge.
bulletEnabling: The mentor asks questions that aid the student in correcting or refining their knowledge.
bulletInfusing: 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 learning.


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:

  1. 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 taxonomy.
  2. 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 Bloom’s taxonomy.
  3. 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.
  4. Each succeeding level in the taxonomy follows the same pattern.  Level “N” can be understood best by looking at level “N+1”.


Knowledge: Recall of data. Examples: Recite a policy. Quote prices from memory to a customer. Knows the safety rules.

Key Words: defines, describes, identifies, knows, labels, lists, matches, names, outlines, recalls, recognizes, reproduces, selects, states.

Comprehension: Understand the meaning, translation, interpolation, and interpretation of instructions and problems. State a problem in one's own words.

Examples: 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.

Key words: comprehends, converts, defends, distinguishes, estimates, explains, extends, generalizes, gives examples, infers, interprets, paraphrases, predicts, rewrites, summarizes, translates.

Application: 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.

Key Words: applies, changes, computes, constructs, demonstrates, discovers, manipulates, modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, produces, relates, shows, solves, uses.

Analysis: Separates material or concepts into component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. Distinguishes between facts and inferences. 

Examples: 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.

Keywords: analyzes, breaks down, compares, contrasts, diagrams, deconstructs, differentiates, discriminates, distinguishes, identifies, illustrates, infers, outlines, relates, selects, separates.

Synthesis: Builds a structure or pattern from diverse elements. Put parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure.

Examples: Write 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.

Keywords: categorizes, combines, compiles, composes, creates, devises, designs, explains, generates, modifies, organizes, plans, rearranges, reconstructs, relates, reorganizes, revises, rewrites, summarizes, tells, writes.

Evaluation: Make judgments about the value of ideas or materials.

Examples: Select the most effective solution. Hire the most qualified candidate. Explain and justify a new budget.

Keywords: 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 (level three).


Mentor’s External Metacognitive Role:  You can provide the metacognition the learners don’t have.  Here’s how I would like you to plan:

  1. Read over the student’s task in the lab handout.
  2. 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.).
  3. Jot down the student activities and mark with the appropriate Bloom’s level.
  4. Formulate questions that cause the students to explain what they are doing (so you understand).
  5. 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.