Date of Conferral
Darci J. Harland
Prior research on new teacher mentoring has focused on in-person mentoring to mediate rates of teacher attrition, yet few studies have explored applying digital communication technologies (DCTs) as tools for virtual mentoring of novice teachers, particularly for supporting novice rural teachers who may be at higher risk of attrition. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how the virtual mentoring of novice rural teachers through DCTs reflected Hudson's five-factor model of mentoring. The research questions focused on how novice rural teachers and their mentors described the virtual mentoring experience and how the pairs interacted during the mentoring process. This single case study included two embedded units of analysis comprised of two mentoring pairs that contained one experienced teacher and one novice rural teacher who interacted using DCTs. Data were collected from interviews, reflective journals, and an online discussion forum. Single-unit analysis included open and axial coding and category construction. Cross-unit analysis involved the constant comparative method to identify emerging themes and discrepancies. Key findings showed that all of Hudson's five factors of in-person mentoring were present in the virtual mentoring interactions. Virtual mentoring provided novice teachers with flexibility, responsive mentoring, and a professional learning community for the sharing of resources, receiving affective support, engaging in reflection, and developing pedagogical and system knowledge through modeling and feedback. The results of this study contribute to social change by providing insights for educators and administrators interested in using virtual mentoring as effective support for novice teachers in rural K-12 schools.