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Learning to Become a More Effective Research Mentor for Your Trainees: Undergraduates to Post-Docs Eric Hooper (todays facilitator) Robert Mathieu Christine.

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Presentation on theme: "Learning to Become a More Effective Research Mentor for Your Trainees: Undergraduates to Post-Docs Eric Hooper (todays facilitator) Robert Mathieu Christine."— Presentation transcript:

1 Learning to Become a More Effective Research Mentor for Your Trainees: Undergraduates to Post-Docs Eric Hooper (todays facilitator) Robert Mathieu Christine Pfund Janet Branchaw and many others… Departments and Programs: Astronomy; Physics; Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning; Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning; Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching; Center for Biology Education; Wisconsin Center for Education Research University of Wisconsin-Madison

2 Plan for this Afternoon Set the stage. Share your tales of mentoring, the good, the bad, the ugly. Discuss a case study. Discuss another case study. Summary discussion and next step. Seminar evaluation. Interactive book of the full mentoring seminar available:

3 Defining Mentoring dynamic reciprocal relationship between an advanced career imcumbent and a less experienced professional (protégé) aimed at promoting the development and fulfillment of both (Haley 1997) Supports both the career and psychosocial development of protégé (Ehrich et al 2004)

4 Benefits of Mentoring Mindfully Students more successful. Recruitment and retention of students to your department, program, or class. Less stress (an ounce of prevention…). Better funding proposals.

5 NSF and Mentoring Postdocs Part of broader impacts. Supplementary document. 1 page description for all collaborative institutions. All postdocs on the proposal, regardless of location. See NSF Grant Proposal Guide II.C.2.j (make sure its the January 2010 version!):

6 What do Experienced Mentors Say? Learned by making mistakes Learned from experience Learned from making mistakes …….and still learning from making mistakes

7 Can Mentoring be Taught? Can you teach someone to be a researcher? Can you teach someone to write? Can you teach someone to teach? Each of these skills is a combination of passion, intuition, experience, and knowledge.

8 The UW-Madison Mentoring Seminar Eight to nine-week (1 hour meeting per week) seminar developed using an iterative approach of design, testing, evaluation, and revision. Discussion, outside activities, readings. Currently optimized for mentoring researchers, undergraduates and up, but has been ported to other purposes. Originally used in biology, now being adapted across science, technology, engineering, math, and social sciences (NSF funded).

9 Seminar Topics: Establishing a good relationship with your mentee Learning to Communicate Establishing Expectations Understanding Addressing & benefiting from Diversity Ethics Independence Developing a Mentoring Philosophy Multidisciplinary interactive book available at:

10 Can I Run a Seminar Like This? Yes you can. If I can do it, you can do it. People with a range of ages and professional background have successfully facilitated seminars. It helps to have experience as a mentee in your setting. The primary goal is to facilitate rich discussions. We provide the materials (cases, guidelines, questions, strategies) via a website. Helps if participants are actively mentoring.

11 Discuss your Mentoring Experiences As mentor, or mentee. Good or bad, or elements of each. Why? How did you know? What and how did you or they learn about mentoring? What can be generalized. Discuss from a variety of perspectives: mentor; mentee; a colleague; supervisor of a mentor. Specific event or situation, or more general impressions. What constitutes a good project for your mentee? Does everyone around you agree on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the situation?

12 Understanding: It Seemed so Clear… You recently explained a complicated computational technique to your mentee. As you talked, he nodded the entire time as if he understood every word you said. Upon finishing, you asked him if he had any questions. He said no. Just to make sure, you asked him if everything was clear. He said yes. Three days later you asked the mentee how the work using this technique was going and he told you he hasnt started because he does not understand the technique.

13 Independence: Too much Free Rein? A student is excited about the new data she just obtained from a recent observing run at a telescope. These are her first data, and she wants to reduce and analyze them herself. Her mentor respects her desire to do the work independently, and so decides not to interfere unless asked. Four weeks go by without a word from the student, and the mentor decides to check in. The mentee says that everything is going fine, and she'll have results to show the mentor shortly. A week later she proudly asks to set up an appointment to show her mentor the results. After only five minutes the mentor knows that the student has not reduced the data correctly, and in fact would have to do most of the work again. The mentor points out the mistakes. As the student leaves it is clear that she is crestfallen. After a week, the mentor hasn't heard a word from her. The mentor wonders if the mentee was given too much freedom and ponders what to do now.

14 2 Summers of Multi-discipline Seminars

15 Quotes from Astrophysics Participants I genuinely enjoyed the discussions and felt that the topics were very applicable to my mentoring experience. They made me think about things I had not really thought about before. The discussions were thought-provoking, interesting, and most of the time had specific techniques or ideas to implement in my own mentoring relationship. I think I will try to improve my communication with the student, and give more feedback to the student about how I feel he or she and the project are doing. I think I will try to be more personable, and to get to know my mentee a bit better.

16 Changes in Behavior of the Mentors Pfund et al. Science 311, 473 (2006)


18 Wrap up Discussion What are your needs for mentor training? Did you find some elements youd like to implement? Items not included that youd like to see? General thoughts?

19 Thank you! Please consider filling out the seminar evaluation forms. Want to chat? –Im here through the end of the meeting. –ehooper {at} That website again is

20 END

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