Revealing Moments of Mentorship: Social Exchanges Between a Graduate Research Assistant and a Professor


  • Mary Gene Saudelli University of the Fraser Valley
  • Ewelina Kinga Niemczyk North West University



This is a longitudinal self-study of a mentoring relationship that emerged and evolved between a graduate research assistant and a professor over seven academic years. We use social exchange theory to explore the evolution of this relationship. Specifically, our focus is a series of nine revealing moments that demonstrate evident learning, a relationship change, or shifts in the currencies of exchange over time. These revealing moments arose from intentional opportunities for scholarly development, personal and relational interactions, and unanticipated occurrences. This study exemplifies the dynamics of a mentoring relationship over an extended time period, thereby responding to the dearth of longitudinal studies of mentoring internationally.

Key words: mentoring; social exchange theory; mentoring relationships; graduate education; research assistantships

Ce projet de recherche est une étude longitudinale de soi portant sur une relation de mentorat qui a évolué entre un assistant de recherche de cycle supérieur et un professeur au cours de sept années académiques. Nous nous appuyons sur la théorie de l’échange sociale pour explorer cette relation. Plus précisément, nous nous penchons sur neuf moments révélateurs qui démontrent soit un apprentissage évident, un changement dans la relation ou l’évolution des échanges. Ces moments révélateurs ont découlé d’occasions délibérées visant le développement de la recherche; des interactions personnelles et relationnelles; et des événements inattendus. Cette étude illustre la dynamique d’une relation de mentorat au fil du temps, apportant ainsi une réponse au manque, à l’échelle internationale, d’études longitudinales portant sur le mentorat.

Mots clés: mentorat, théorie de l’échange sociale, relation de mentorat, études supérieures, assistanat à la recherche

Author Biographies

Mary Gene Saudelli, University of the Fraser Valley

Mary Gene Saudelli, PhD is the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Professional Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada. Mary has specialized in learning and teaching in higher education and international education. Most of her research is in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning with a particular interest in transdisciplinary, curriculum design, high-impact practices and learning, and reciprocity in learning through different ways of being and knowing. She has taught in Canada, Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan, India, Hong Kong, and Turkey. She has been awarded numerous scholarly grants and has many peer-reviewed journal publications and collaborations across institutions to her name. In August, 2019, she released her second book, ‘Voices from Far Away Lands: From Divergent to Convergent’ with co-editors Jim Kusch and Sharon Carroll. November 2015, she released her first book ‘The Balancing Act: International Higher Education in the 21st Century.’ She is currently working on her third book related to graduate education and social justice research mentoring. 

Ewelina Kinga Niemczyk, North West University

Professor Ewelina K. Niemczyk has experience in a variety of teaching and research positions in Canadian and South African contexts. Her scholarly work focuses on research education and research practice, higher education for sustainable development, as well as education in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries. In terms of the former, Prof. Niemczyk explores current research realities associated with the demands of research productivity and researcher development. The line of research across the BRICS member states examines educational practices that can be shared to maximize quality of education. As a President of the BRICSEd Association—under the BRICS@NWU, she is dedicated to promote academic excellence across the BRICS countries and beyond. Professor Niemczyk’s scholarly interests are reinforced through the modules she teaches at North-West University in International and Comparative Education as well as her publications. As per contribution to the scholarly community, she actively serves as a journal and conference reviewer; book editor; conference chair; and keynote speaker.




How to Cite

Saudelli, M. G. ., & Niemczyk, E. K. (2020). Revealing Moments of Mentorship: Social Exchanges Between a Graduate Research Assistant and a Professor. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 66(4), 454–470.