Pursuing a constructivist approach to mentoring in the higher education sector
AbstractIn this article we argue that Kelly’s construct psychology (Kelly 1955; 1966/2003) provides a useful framework for mentoring in the Higher Education sector in South Africa. Kelly’s notion of constructive alternativism prompts practitioners to adopt a questioning attitude to life in HE; newly appointed academic staff members and their mentors have to be open to new experiences and new constructions of meaning, engaging in a reciprocal relationship typically prompting participants consciously to
pursue critical reflection, innovation and transformative learning.
We recorded and analysed discursive exchanges (± 130 pages of transcriptions) from two mentor-mentee relationships at the primary author’s institution. We used Kelly’s theory to identify and interrogate a range of work-related constructs. In addition, we applied Hardy, Palmer and Phillips’s discourse-based management model to monitor the outputs of our mentoring. We used Herrmann’s principles of learning style
flexibility as an additional awareness-raising tool to promote a holistic approach to the scholarship of mentoring (Herrmann 1996). We conclude the article with suggestions for mentoring in the HE sector.