Toolkit on Effective Mentoring for Youth
Facing Barriers to Success

Best practices and resources to build, strengthen, evaluate and sustain effective mentoring programs for youth considered at high-risk of under education, unemployment, homelessness, criminalization, and other negative outcomes.

Collecting Data: Methods & Tools

There are various typical (traditional) methods of data collection that can be used including: document review, observation, surveys, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups. The table below presents these options in more detail. For practical instructions, examples and templates for using these methods, refer to this data collection methods toolkit.


There are other data collection methods that are participatory, arts-based and collaborative in nature, sometimes based in Indigenous research methodology.2, 3, 4, 5 These are considered youth friendly as they incorporate experiential learning where the participant is fully engaged in the process.6 Examples of these data collection methods include:

  • Body Mapping: a series of drawing and painting exercises are used to create life-size body images or ‘body maps’ to help participants to tell their stories and visually represent the impact of their experiences on their health and well-being.7
  • Sharing Circles: a sharing and gathering of information, emotions, and stories about people’s experiences that is based in a series of group rituals. The facilitator is viewed as an equal participant in this process, and is given permission to report on the discussions.3
  • Symbol-Based Reflection: participants share paintings, drawings, sculptures, crafts, songs, or stories as representative symbols of their experience.3
  • PhotoVoice: participants take and share photos that help them tell their story about their experiences. The photos are tied together through a narrative description of what they mean to the person.8


Specific Tools for Assessing the Quality of a Mentoring Relationship

Given its direct link to positive outcomes for mentees, one key dimension any mentoring program should evaluate is the quality of the mentoring relationship between the mentee and mentor. There are a number of existing tools to help service providers monitor and assess the quality of the mentoring relationship.

Key Resources for Assessing the Quality of the Mentoring Relationship
Recent review of valid & reliable instruments used to measure match quality:

Nakkula, M. J., & Harris, J. T. (2014). Assessing mentoring relationships. In D. L. DuBois & M. J. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of youth mentoring (2nd ed., pp. 45–62). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sample Ongoing Match Monitoring Questions:

Assessing the Quality of the Mentoring Relationship (at 6 months and at end):

Quality Relationship Rubric: Best Practice Resource:

The Youth Survey: Measuring the Quality of Mentor-Youth Relationships:
This questionnaire assesses youths’ satisfaction with their mentoring relationships along three dimensions: youth-contentedness, emotional engagement, and dissatisfaction.
Middle-high school age youth survey:
Friendship Review (Sample Exit Interview):

Effective Mentoring Relationships: Mentor Role Self-Assessment:


  1. Deutsch, N.L. & Spencer, R. (2009). Capturing the magic: Assessing the quality of youth mentoring relationships. New Directions for Youth Development, 121, 47-70.
  2. Kovach, M. (2005). Emerging from the margins: Indigenous methodologies. In L. Brown & S. Strega (Eds.) Research as resistance (pp. 19–36). Toronto, Canada: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
  3. Lavallee, L.F. (2009). Practical application of an indigenous research framework and two qualitative indigenous research methods: Sharing circles and symbol-based reflection. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 8 (1), 21-40.
  4. McNiff, S. (1998). Art-based research. London: Jessica Kingsley.
  5. Tolman, D. & Brydon-Miller, M. (2001). From subjects to subjectivities: A handbook of   interpretive and participatory method. New York, NY: New York University Press.
  6. Park, P. (1993). What is participatory research?: A theoretical and methodological perspective. In P. Park, M. Brydon-Miller, B. Hall & T. Jackson (Eds.), Voices of change: Participatory research in the United States and Canada (pp. 1–20). Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.
  7. Gastaldo, D., Magalhães, L., Carrasco, C., and Davy, C. (2012). Body-map storytelling as research: Methodological considerations for telling the stories of undocumented workers through body mapping. Retrieved from
  8. Wang, C., Yuan, Y. L., & Feng, M. L. (1996). Photovoice as a tool for participatory evaluation: The community’s view of process and impact. Journal of Contemporary Health, 4, 47–49.


Funding provided by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services