Triadic mentoring in early childhood teacher education: the role of relational agency

Aya Ben-Harush, Lily Orland-Barak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Current approaches to early childhood teacher education have moved from a view of student–teacher training as interactions involving one novice and one expert, to a process that demands resources and engagement of several professional players while mediating students’ learning in practice. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of a triadic mentoring model of a university–school collaboration (“Academia–Classroom”) on student teachers’ (STs) learning in the context of early childhood education in Israel. Eight mentoring triads were formed in six kindergartens. Each mentoring triad was comprised of the ST, a cooperating teacher and the college supervisor. This paper focuses on three representative triads of the eight that were studied. Design/methodology/approach: The in-depth study adopted qualitative methodology including three complementary data-collection sources: observations of the STs working with children in the kindergarten; observations and recordings of the triadic mentoring conversations following the observations; in-depth interviews with each participant in the mentoring triad. Data were analyzed using an interpretative framework developed for the study, which combined elements from Engestrom’s cultural historical activity theory, Gee’s building tasks and Edward’s relational agency. Findings: The research identified three major patterns of interaction operating in the mentoring triad that promoted or hindered the learning process of early childhood education students: dissonant, harmonic and argumentative. The way in which relational agency developed in the triads was found to be the most significant aspect of students’ learning process. Originality/value: The patterns of interaction identified shed light on new aspects of relational agency, thus offering additional interpretative lenses for examining how relational agency operates in ST mentored learning processes. These new identified patterns have practical implications for the design of mentoring frameworks in early childhood teacher education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-196
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 14 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Mentoring
  • Teacher training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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