The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which the learning
experiences of mentors and mentees in their mentoring relationships were reflective
of Kolb's experiential learning cycle. The researcher interviewed five mentors and
five principals who participated in the mentoring programme as encapsulated in the
ACE School Leadership programme at the University of Pretoria. The principals were
selected from the Nkangala education district of Mpumalanga province.
Research questions covered the four modes of Kolb's experiential learning cycle: (i)
Concrete Experience, (ii) Reflective Observation, (iii) Abstract Conceptualisation,
and (iv) Active Experimentation. The participants were required to describe their
experiences in the mentoring programme and their anticipated future mentorship
practices within their schools. Participants described the reflective processes they
engaged in and the skills and knowledge gained, as well as their interpretation of the
mentoring phenomenon. The participants' responses were subsequently analysed
to determine the extent to which their learning experiences were reflective of the
experiential learning cycle as presented by Kolb (1984). The study confirmed the
participants' learning as reflective of Kolb's experiential learning cycle.
The outcomes confirmed mentoring as a vital tool for enhancing principals'
leadership and management knowledge and skills in order to, in turn, develop their
schools as effective learning institutions. The mentoring programme not only
contributed towards school improvement, but also gave a huge boost to the
principals' personal and professional development. Moreover, the mentors in the
programme were instrumental in helping principals to become reflective practitioners
as anticipated in the Department of Education's National Policy Framework for
Teacher Education and Development in South Africa (2007).
During this research it was discovered that the programme was not without its
challenges, however. Mentor selection was found to contain serious flaws. Moreover,
the principals selected for the programme were not fully informed of the reasons for
their selection to the programme; the only information they were in possession of in
this regard was centred on the academic aspect of the qualification, which meant
that this was what they focused on.