Research is the foundation of Global Talent Mentoring and essential for ensuring that our use of educational technology is accountable, effective, and self-improving. Research findings predating the start of mentoring activities—both literature reviews and our own original empirical findings—played a pivotal role in the conceptual development of Global Talent Mentoring. Likewise, research will continue over the lifetime of the program to assess program effectiveness, learn more about talent development with online mentoring, and continually improve the concept and implementation of Global Talent Mentoring.
Preparation of Global Talent Mentoring
The preparation of Global Talent Mentoring—conceptualization, planning, and development of the online platform—applied research in these areas:
Extensive review of existing research: Digitalization offers many potential features for mentoring. However, limited empirical evidence exists on the elements of effective mentoring, particularly for the online mentoring format. The Global Talent Mentoring research team studied and aggregated existing research on online mentoring, talent development, and STEMM education.
Analyzing existing mentoring programs: Our research team analyzed existing online mentoring programs (e.g., CyberMentor) to identify factors that contribute to successful online mentoring experiences (e.g., matching criteria, communication behavior and patterns, online platform features). These insights were utilized for developing the concept of Global Talent Mentoring. They are consistently applied to maximize the benefits of Global Talent Mentoring for its participants.
Needs assessments for Global Talent Mentoring: In order to determine the essential elements to be included in Global Talent Mentoring, questionnaires were developed for and completed by potential mentees and mentors at several points during the conceptual planning process. With the help of the needs assessments, our research team identified key elements for facilitating mentees’ and mentors’ success in Global Talent Mentoring. These elements include specific training and mentoring modules as well as ongoing support during the mentoring experience.
Surveys: The research team is also dedicated to better understanding how to best support talented youths in STEMM more generally. To this end, surveys on experts’ views on key aspects and support mechanisms (e.g., mentoring, enrichment programs) for talent development in STEMM fields have been conducted. Numerous experts from different countries participated in these surveys. The experts represent the state of the art in research on and knowledge about talent development, STEMM education, and the manifold STEMM subjects themselves.
Based on these comprehensive and multi-level research efforts, the research team has developed the Global Talent Mentoring program concept and applied it to programming Global Talent Mentoring’s own online platform. The online platform has been designed to maximize program effectiveness while simultaneously providing an enjoyable and engaging user experience.
Effectiveness of Global Talent Mentoring
Global Talent Mentoring monitors and researches short-term, mid-term, and long-term program effectiveness. Research insights help to continually improve the program and to better understand how to use online mentoring to foster talent development in various STEMM domains.
We will assess the program’s short-term effectiveness by comparing the developmental trajectories of our mentees with a randomized waitlist control group on outcomes such as participants’ STEMM growth, STEMM interests, and elective intentions in STEMM. The waitlist control group will consist of comparable students who are also selected for program participation, but then are randomly chosen to wait before participating. We will also longitudinally assess various aspects of online user activities on the platform such as networking with other participants or initiated and completed STEMM projects.
We will monitor mentees’ individual developmental trajectories during and after program participation. Key data points will include mentees’ utilization of the mentoring offerings, their advancement along their individual learning pathways, their short-term, mid-term, and long-term goal-setting behaviors, and goal attainment. Ongoing assessments will also consider mentees’ self-reported internal and external talent development resources as well as the development and quality of relationships between mentors and mentees and their influence on mentoring outcomes.
As mentees will participate in Global Talent Mentoring over a period of about ten years, we will also conduct longitudinal studies of the program’s long-term effectiveness. Follow-up research will assess former mentees’ later achievements in tertiary education and their professional achievements (e.g., publications, patents).