Tips For a Successful Mentoring Experience|
The tips below are based on the findings of the Learning through Evaluation,
Adaptation, and Dissemination (LEAD) Center which has been performing an
evaluation of the DMP since 1994.
Overall, the LEAD evaluators identified three key elements of the DMP that
were linked to a successful experience for the students:
- A mentor who takes an interest in the student's welfare and provides
frequent feedback about the student's progress.
- A research project that is interesting, challenging, and valued by
the mentor's research team.
- Immersion in a research-based environment that includes interactions
with graduate students.
In addition to the tips listed below, there are a number of excellent
mentoring resources available on the web. The publication listed below
is an excellent starting point, and it contains references to many
Ways to prepare for the students' arrival and reduce
Given that ten weeks is a relatively short time to complete a comprehensive
research project, many mentors commented that to "make the most" of the ten
weeks, it was helpful to prepare for the students' arrival in ways that would
minimize start-up time. The following strategies were suggested:
Contacting the student prior to the program.
Many mentors suggested that contacting a student prior to the program
to discuss the proposed project would enable them to both assess the
student's background and learn her research interests.
Following such a discussion, the mentor could decide whether the
proposed project was feasible and make changes, if necessary,
prior to the student's arrival. Also, the mentor could suggest readings
and other things the student could do before arriving that would help
Helping the student access university services.
Setting up a computer account, arranging for an office, and helping the
student obtain access to other university services (temporary student
identification cards, library cards, etc.) may save start-up time.
Many mentors commented that positioning the student's desk or office
near theirs or that of their graduate students would involve her more
directly in the research team.
Helping the student obtain housing.
Help finding summer housing is very useful to the students.
Many universities have websites or newsgroups listing summer
sublets and most have dorms available during the summer.
Many DMP students find it convenient to stay on campus, especially
if they do not have a car. Often, the student will need the
mentor's assistance to find out about these options and to do
any paperwork necessary to take advantage of them.
Factors to address when the student arrives and throughout the
Almost all students have had little or no research experience, and most have
not interacted with a faculty member in a cooperative research project.
These students hoped to learn more about research and graduate school through
their experience in the DMP, and they wanted their mentor to provide