Mentoring Resources

Mentoring Resources

Mentoring: to mentor, or be mentored? That is the question! And the answer is: both! All of us encounter many opportunities in our lives to either mentor, or be mentored; and in any mentoring relationship the responsibility to foster and guide the process falls to both the mentor and the mentee. The goal of this online manual is to highlight the value of mentoring and to help students, faculty, and administrators be better mentees, and become better mentors.This version of the manual focuses generally on mentoring within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, especially on the mentoring process for underrepresented students, and in some cases specifically on the context of summer research for undergraduates. However, it provides information that mentors and mentees alike may find valuable in variety of circumstances.

Key Themes

The key elements listed below provide the basic foundation for the research mentor training program. These elements are inter-related, yet each one draws attention to a particular aspect of the mentor-mentee relationship.

Establishing expectations

One critical element of an effective mentor-mentee relationship is a shared understanding of what each person expects from the relationship. Problems between mentors and mentees often arise from misunderstandings about expectations. Importantly, expectations change over time so frequent reflection and clear communication about expectations are needed on a regular basis.

Learning Objectives for Expectations:
Mentors will have the knowledge and skill to:

  • Establish expectations and clearly communicate them to the mentee
  • Design and communicate clear goals for the mentoring relationship
  • Listen to and consider the expectations of their mentee in the mentoring relationship
  • Assess the mentee’s knowledge and skill level and adjust the project design accordingly
  • Consider how differences may impact the relationship.

Maintaining effective communication

Good communication is a key element of any relationship and a mentoring relationship is no exception. As mentors, it is not enough to say that we know good communication when we see it. Rather, it is critical that mentors reflect upon and identify the specific characteristics of effective communication and take time to practice communication skills.

Learning Objectives for Communication:
Mentors will have the knowledge and skill to:

  • Foster open communication with the mentee
  • Address how difference in communication styles, background, position of power, etc. can alter the intent and the perception of what is said and heard
  • Use multiple strategies for improving communication.

Assessing understanding

Determining if someone understands you is not easy and yet knowing if your mentee understands you is critical to a productive mentor-mentee relationship. Developing strategies to assess understanding is an important part of becoming an effective mentor.

Learning Objectives for Understanding:
Mentors will have the knowledge and skill to:

  • Assess their mentees’ prior knowledge of the research field
  • Assess/determine their mentees’ understanding of core concepts and procedures in the research field
  • Consider diverse strategies for enhancing mentee understanding
  • Explain and/or model the practice of science and research in their discipline
  • Assess their mentee’s ability to develop and conduct a research project, analyze data and present results

Fostering independence

An important goal in any mentoring relationship is helping the mentee become independent; yet defining what an independent mentee knows and can do is not often articulated by the mentor nor the mentee. Defining what independence looks like and developing skills to foster independence are key to becoming an effective mentor.

Learning Objectives for Independence:
Mentors will have the knowledge and skill to:

  • Consider the important roles they play in the academic, professional and personal development of their mentees
  • Employ various strategies to build their mentees’ confidence
  • Implement varied approaches to foster their mentees’ independence in scientific research
  • Establish trust between themselves and their mentees
  • Create an environment where mentees can achieve goals
  • Stimulate creativity

Addressing diversity

Diversity along a range of dimensions offers both challenges and opportunities to any mentor-mentee relationship. Learning to identify, reflect upon, and engage with diversity is critical to forming and maintaining an effective mentoring relationship.

Learning Objectives for Diversity:
Mentors will have the knowledge and skill to:

  • Recognize some of the biases and prejudices they bring to the mentor-mentee relationships
  • Implement concrete strategies for addressing issues of diversity
  • Engage in conversations about diversity with their mentees
  • Understand how their interactions with and role modeling for the mentee can affect that mentee’s decision to commit to careers in science
  • Improve their multicultural competency.

Dealing with research ethics

Mentors play an important role in both teaching mentees about ethical behavior and modeling ethical behavior. Moreover, there are many ethical issues to consider when entering a relationship with a mentee based on the power dynamic that exists between mentors and mentees. Reflecting upon and discussing ethical behavior is an important part of becoming an effective mentor.

Learning Objectives for Ethics:
Mentors will have the knowledge and skill to:

  • Articulate the issues of ethics they need to discuss with their mentees

Clarify the roles they play—both as teachers a

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Upcoming Events

Tue 24

Curley Afterschool Program (CEP)

October 24
Organizers: Center for STEM Education
617-373-8380
and STEMout
Fri 27
Sat 28

GEM Conference

October 28
Tue 31

Curley Afterschool Program (CEP)

October 31
Organizers: Center for STEM Education
617-373-8380
and STEMout
Nov 03