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‘Virtual’ mentoring: can the principle of cognitive pairing increase its effectiveness?

F Beddoes-Jones, J Miller International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring 2006

This paper is based on the experiences of completing a virtual mentoring programme within the higher education sector that used the principle of ‘cognitive pairing’ to enable the rapid establishment of high quality mentoring relationships. Although not originally designed as a research study, it was subsequently felt that the benefits of ‘cognitive pairing’ were significant enough to be promulgated. The paper briefly summarises research in the field of matching mentors and mentees by cognitive style preference and defines the principle of ‘cognitive pairing’. It then describes the instrument used for this research, Think Smart™ (BeddoesJones 2002), and its suitability for this programme. The aims of the mentoring programme and its design are outlined and the results discussed with reference to Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of training evaluation (Kirkpatrick 1979 and 1994) and Clutterbuck’s measurements of mentoring success (Clutterbuck 2003). The effectiveness of using the principle of matching preferences in cognitive style in order to establish high quality ‘virtual’ relationships is considered, before concluding that using the principle of cognitive pairing within ‘virtual’ mentoring relationships can lead to both sustainable relationships and financial benefits.

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