The purpose of this phenomenological case study was to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the mentoring relationship, processes, and outcomes from the mentee’s perspective in the K-12 sector and how this understanding changes the organization’s role in facilitating these relationships. The framework for the study was based on the theoretical foundations of social exchange theory. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with fourteen first- and second- year teachers who were participating in a formal mentoring program at a Texas school district during the 2020-2021 school year. The interviews were transcribed, coded, and 26 themes were identified in the resulting data. These themes were organized into five major thematic categories. The findings revealed the need to understand the mentoring experience during the COVID-19 pandemic using an ecological systems approach. A conceptual model using three of the major thematic categories was presented to illustrate application of the ecological systems approach. Further, mentees’ mentoring experiences during the pandemic were not sufficiently explained by the social exchange theory. The SET framework was found insufficient for exploring the nature of the complex, multi-level relationships beyond the traditional mentoring dyad experienced by the mentees. Instead, an alternative framework via the mentoring relationship continuum underpinned with relational mentoring theory was deemed to have improved explanatory power x for the current study. Limitations of the study were discussed along with future research opportunities.

Date of publication

Summer 8-19-2021

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Greg Wang, Kim Nimon, Paul Roberts


Doctor of Philosophy in Human Resource Development