A faculty research mentor helps his/her students to clarify goals and carry out a plan to reach those goals by sharing the insights and knowledge they have gained through their experiences.
Recommendations for Mentors
- Give prompt feedback.
- Emphasize time on task.
- Communicate high expectations
- Respect diverse talents and ways of learning.
- Encourage cooperation among students.
- Encourage active learning.
- Maintain an interest and desire to help
- Reference your experience as a mentee
- Devote adequate time & energy to the relationship
- Keep current in your discipline
- Have a positive and willing attitude toward learning
New to mentoring undergraduates? Would you like to consult with an experienced faculty mentor? Please contact OUR and we will connect you with a colleague from your college.
Here are some characteristics to consider as you engage students.
They maintain eye contact and give mentees their full attention.
Mentors are there to help their mentees find life direction, never to push them.
Mentors are practical.
They give insights about keeping on task and setting goals and priorities.
Mentors educate about life and their own careers.
Mentors provide insight.
Mentors use their personal experience to help their mentees avoid mistakes and learn from good decisions.
Mentors are accessible.
Mentors are available as a resource and a sounding board.
Mentors criticize constructively.
When necessary, mentors point out areas that need improvement, always focusing on the mentee’s behavior, never his/her character.
Mentors are supportive.
No matter how painful the mentee’s experience, mentors continue to encourage them to learn and improve.
Mentors are specific.
Mentors give specific advice on what was done well or could be corrected, what was achieved and the benefits of various actions.
Mentors care about their mentees’ progress in school and career planning, as well as their personal development.
Mentors not only are successful themselves, but they also foster success in others.
Mentors are admirable.
Mentors are usually well respected in their organizations and in the community.
"How to Mentor Undergraduate Researchers"
By Carolyn Ash Merkel California Institute of Technology and Shenda M. Baker Harvey Mudd College
How to Mentor Undergraduate Researchers is written for faculty members and other researchers who mentor undergraduates. It provides a concise description of the mentoring process, including the opportunities and rewards that a mentoring experience provides to both students and mentors. Expectations of mentors are contrasted with those of students. While written primarily with summer research experiences in mind, the booklet contrasts those intensive experiences with day-to-day mentoring of undergraduate research during the academic year including senior theses. Advice is valid for both on- and off-campus research experiences and most academic disciplines. Practical information includes How to get started, Helping the student to develop presentation skills, and Resources and references.
Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR)
The Council on Undergraduate Research, founded in 1978, is a national organization of individual and institutional members representing over 900 colleges and universities. CUR and its affiliated colleges, universities, and individuals share a focus on providing undergraduate research opportunities for faculty and students at predominantly undergraduate institutions. CUR believes that faculty members enhance their teaching and contribution to society by remaining active in research and by involving undergraduates in research. CUR’s leadership works with agencies and foundations to enhance research opportunities for faculty and students. CUR provides support for faculty development. Our publications and outreach activities are designed to share successful models and strategies for establishing and institutionalizing undergraduate research programs. We assist administrators and faculty members in improving and assessing the research environment at their institutions. CUR also provides information on the importance of undergraduate research to state legislatures, private foundations, government agencies, and the U.S. Congress. CUR welcomes faculty and administrators from all academic institutions. Our primary advocacy is in support of faculty and students at predominantly undergraduate institutions. CUR achieves its vision through efforts of its membership as organized in a divisional structure that includes biology, chemistry, geosciences, mathematics and computer science, physics and astronomy, psychology, social sciences, an at-large division that serves administrators and other disciplines, and a division for directors of undergraduate research programs.
Resources and References
- What the best college teachers do. Ken Bain, Harvard University Press, 2004.
- The Academics Handbook, 3rd Edition. A Leigh Deneef, Duke University Press, 2007.