by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair

The Journalism Education Association‘s Mentoring program is entering its fourth year, with 33 mentors working in 16 states. The JEA Mentoring Committee, the JEA board, the program’s funders and the mentors are delighted at how much progress we’ve made in helping new journalism teachers be successful in their teaching and media advising.

Early in the program, we realized the importance of collecting data about the mentors’ work. In this time of data-driven decision-making in school systems and with tight budgets for organizations, having data from the mentors’ work is needed to enable us to evaluate the program’s effectiveness.

For the first year, the mentors completed their reports with a Word document that was then e-mailed to committee members.

Starting in the second year of the program, we’ve been using Survey Monkey as the data-collection instrument. Each month during the school year, each mentor goes online to our Survey Monkey mentor report, logs in, and completes the report for that month. Committee members can check on the progress of each mentor and track trends in working with the new journalism teachers.

Mentors say they find the Survey Monkey report easier to complete. By having the reports posted online, committee members can view the monthly reports and have access to that information anywhere we have Internet access.

JEA Mentoring Committee member Judy Robinson and I just created the monthly report form for this school year and have “opened” the survey for our mentors to use for their monthly reporting.

The online reporting system for the JEA Mentoring program is ready to go for the 2010-2011 school year. A new feature from Survey Monkey lets us post the link on the blog. So mentors can visit the blog, click on the link, and complete their reports. Having the link on the blog also is a reminder to the mentors to be sure to complete those important monthly reports.

Mentors also can type in the URL to go to the online survey —