Resources for Faculty Mentors

Mentoring is both challenging and rewording. It is exciting to see a student grow as a scholar as they participate in the creative process of research. Below are some resources that might help you as you develop your mentoring style.


Everyone goes about mentoring a little bit differently. Below are common goals of faculty participating in research with students and strategies that various mentors have used to approach these goals. Not every strategy works for every mentor or field.

These strategies and goals are adapted from input from Directors of Undergraduate Research from Universities across the nation at the “Establishing a Learning Community for Mentors of Undergraduate Researchers” session of the CUR national meeting organized by Dr. Janice DeCosmo, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Research and Dr. Jennifer Harris, Director, Undergraduate Research Program, University of Washington, Seattle.

Goals Strategies
Build a productive relationship
  • Ask about long-term career/academic goals and discuss how they might align with current work. Establish boundaries.
  • Ask about career and research interests.
  • Take time to have life conversations not just conversations on research.
  • Checking in daily (or regularly) with my students about their progress.
  • Weekly research group meeting with all mentees together
  • Periodically, ask how they’re experiencing research process not just content.
  • Afternoon tea time to talk about research and/or life
  • Meet weekly
Communicate effectively
  • Model scholarly conversations with small groups of students
  • Have “mock oral presentations” to allow students to practice communicating their research
  • Ask students how they prefer to be communicated with from their mentor
  • Role-playing
  • Establish regular e-mails to students; build a resource for peer and mentor feedback (e.g. Google does for writing exercises)
  • Talk to mentee directly about your concerns
  • Weekly team meetings
  • Establish checklists
  • Have students write a journal style paper describing their work at the end of project or semester or summer.
Provide context / background
  • YouTube videos of techniques (and concepts behind techniques) – (Biomed Sciences)
  • Find approachable texts or papers in your field to introduce a subject
Develop skills (lab, tech., etc.)
  • Workshop to teach students to write research proposals
  • Ask senior students to teach newer students/basic skills
  • Spend time working side by side with the student
  • Have students write a journal style paper describing their work at the end of project or semester or summer.
  • Group notebook of procedures, journal articles, etc. used by you and your students. Students can add to the notebook as they find new techniques, resources, etc.


Establish appropriate benchmarks
  • Have student establish plan and schedule on their own, then quickly edit and provide feedback to the student
  • Meet with students to create a description of expectations with schedule for action steps to take toward benchmarks
  • Co-create learning objectives for project


Foster high-level performance
  • Standing expectations
  • Demonstrate the same standards in your own performance


Provide effective assessment & feedback
  • Goals worksheets and self-assessments
  • Peer feedback on students’ research
  • Make a sound recording of an initial meeting/interview, ask students about their professional, personal, and academic goals. Check back in with that periodically share with them at the end of the process.
Addressing obstacles & challenges
  • Stop. Find the root/cause of problem
  • Stress humility in research fields/settings
  • Weekly check-in and what worked? What were your obstacles? How can you overcome those obstacles next week?
Foster critical thinking & synthesis
  • Put up a new Lego model each week and ask students to come up with hypothesis to explain it
Foster independence
  • Assign tasks for independent research
  • Encourage individual goal-setting and asking many questions
  • Give them responsibilities or tasks to complete
Introductions to the scholarly  community
  • Take students to a disciplinary conference
  • Share faculty interest with panels of faculty
  • Guest speakers
Assist with career planning
  • Discuss my own personal, professional, and academic journey
  • Organize shadowing of professionals in their field
  • Take students to conferences and help them network

What Makes a Good Mentor?

ACU Undergraduate Researchers were emailed and asked what makes a good mentor. Read the students insights that they shared in What makes a Good Mentor.

Slides from Mentoring Session in the Adams Center 10/01/14

There was an Adams Center Session on Mentoring on October 1, 2014. Slides from the session are available below. Many of the ideas on the slides were generated in teh session.

Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers

Article about Mentoring

Nature published a guide to mentoring. While it is written for scientists, most of the tips are applicable not matter your field.

Student Goal and Learning Objective Planning

Some universities and/ or mentors have student actively participate in their Learning goal and objective planning for their research experience. This gives the students an opportunity to take even greater responsibility for their own learning. Below are samples from two different universities.

University of Missouri Summer Intern Goal Planning – This set of Goal Planning was designed for undergraduate researchers from other universities participating in the University of Missouri’s summer intern program.

California State at Monterey Bay – Research Student Learning Outcomes – This was developed by the CSUMB Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center for students who were doing research both at the university and in placements at local businesses and research institutes.