MENTORS MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
The Office of Undergraduate Research can assist you in connecting with an undergraduate protégé, to help facilitate a formalized, meaningful research experience. Once the relationship is established our office provides extended support by offering : advice, training, student services and support, including research poster printing, research travel grants, presentation and funding opportunities.
Steps in Finding an Undergraduate Protégé:
Step 1: Register with our office to have your name listed in the faculty mentor database: This allows us to know that you are interested in working with undergraduate students. Registering with our office makes it easy for us to reference your most current contact information and research interests.
Step 2: Ask our office for a student recommendation: By emailing our office at firstname.lastname@example.org you can let us know if you want your student to have a specific skill set, or a prerequisite that you feel is necessary in assisting with your research. Tell us if you have a particular/immediate need for assistants in your research. This allows us to recommend students who meet your expectations, and to save both you and the student time.
Step 3: Start a conversation with a student who has similar research interests as you: This is arguably the hardest step in starting a mentorship with an undergraduate student. Our office is here to help you, and the student, on how to break the potential communication barrier that may occur between student and mentor.
"A mentor-mentee relationship can be a life-long connection or a one-time conversation seeking guidance on a specific topic or concern. No matter how enduring or brief, a little input can have a great impact."
-- Susan Amara, Society for Neuroscience President
taken from Neuroscience Quarterly, Winter 2011.
Mentoring Undergraduate Students in Research
Quality mentoring is more of an art than science. There are recognized characteristics of quality mentoring, best practices, and common challenges associated with mentoring, but an individual’s mentoring style is something that is established through experience and is unique to each student-mentor pairing. Below we provide information that will help you develop a foundation of knowledge about mentoring, but we encourage you to consult with colleagues that have experience in mentoring – their wisdom and anecdotes are more instructive than lists of key characteristics and mentoring tips.
Key Traits for Mentoring
Temple, L. et al. (2010) note four key traits for mentoring:
- Forwardness: this trait has to do with faculty being proactive in introducing undergraduate students to and incorporating them research. It is based on the premise that undergraduate students often lack the confidence to inquire about or attempt to conduct research due to their low level of knowledge and ability. As such, faculty should make efforts to reach out to students that demonstrate interest and/or ability in courses and co-curricular activities.
- Persistence and repetition: this trait focuses on the student learning that occurs through conducting research and witnessing faculty struggle with the same challenges and setbacks they are experiencing. The experience of overcoming obstacles and working with faculty outside of formal course structures fosters student resiliency.
- Emotional honesty: this trait centers on demonstrating to students the reality of your profession. Allow students to see the joys and the challenges of teaching, research, and service. By removing any filters, both positive and negative, students can experience what it is like to be a professional in your discipline which will assist with their learning and academic/career exploration.
- Recognizing and locating alternative mentors: this trait is based on the fact that many students change their interests and goals during their undergraduate years, which can lead students in directions that move away from your research interests. This trait asks that faculty treat students as part of their professional network – which if they have genuinely invested themselves in your research they most assuredly are – and assist them in exploring new pathways and finding other mentors by using your networks.