Mentoring as Information Practice: Unpacking the Black Box
Rebecca Parks Follman
University of Maryland, United States of America
Formal mentoring is an increasingly popular tool for professional development and socialization, particularly in higher education, where expertise is contextual and dynamic. As it is currently enacted, however, mentoring suffers from a lack of clarity, as each participant – protégé or mentor – seems to have a different understanding of what mentoring is or should be. If mentor and protégé don’t have the same understanding, necessary mentoring may not take place. The challenge for researchers is that the action of mentoring usually takes place in dyadic privacy. Studies of mentoring therefore focus on outcomes and participant satisfaction, without being able to separate the links between mentoring functions and those outcomes. In this paper I propose a model of the mentoring relationship that describes the information practices of mentoring. This model is derived from a study of faculty mentors at a large mid-Atlantic university. The model will extend our understanding of mentoring by applying the concept of information practices to the mentoring process.
Acceptance of Knowledge Management Concepts in Religious Organizations: The Impacts of Information and Willful Disengagement from Productive Inquiry
Darin S. Freeburg
University of South Carolina, United States of America
This study analyzed how churches create cultures in which the recirculating of the same information is encouraged, or cultures in which new information is introduced regularly. It then analyzed how these cultures impact engagement with important knowledge management (KM) principles. Particular attention was paid to the factors that contribute to a church’s decision to engage in a critical questioning of assumed beliefs—productive inquiry (PI)—shown to be an important behavior in successful organizations. In eight, 90-minute focus groups, 28 congregants from Mainline Protestant churches were asked to discuss the information behavior surrounding their religious beliefs. Qualitative coding and analysis revealed that the introduction of shared information produced barriers to PI, and the introduction of unique information encouraged PI. However, congregations were purposive in their decision to either engage or disengage in this inquiry based on organizational goals. Analysis showed that the decision to engage with PI was dependent upon a number of variables. A model is provided that outlines the necessary conditions for a congregation with a goal of either PI, or its conceptual opposite—reaffirmation of existing information and beliefs. This reaffirmation tended to result from a relationship goal, but it is suggested that this relationship goal might be better achieved through PI. This study has important implications for organizations that could benefit from the implementation of KM but are less receptive to its requirements.
Information Attribute Motivators of Personal Health Information Management Activities
Si Sun, Nicholas J. Belkin
Rutgers University, United States of America
Understanding the motivating factors for personal health information management (PHIM) activities can inform the design of interventions to help people engage in healthful PHIM activities. This paper examines the attributes of health information that can motivate people’s PHIM activities. We explored this topic through a qualitative study using semi-structured one-on-one interviews with 47 American and Chinese patients living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. We found 10 information attribute motivators, including the availability, abundance, credibility, accuracy, consistency, timeliness, usefulness, process level, and presentation style of, as well as the emotions elicited by, health information objects. Those motivators tell rich and complex stories of how health information is appreciated and handled on a daily basis by patients living with different health conditions or from different social contexts. Many of the motivators have not been examined in detail in the literature, pointing to the importance and necessity of involving them when designing interventions to improve health care outcomes through motivating PHIM activities.