Mentors play a significant role in providing intellectual stimulation for student scholars. Through working on a research project of mutual interest, students become colleagues with their mentors and any other members in the project.
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CUR supports faculty efforts to serve as a research mentor and provides assistance in proposal writing when undergraduate research is part of the project. CUR will also provide administrative support for REU projects.
Remember, this is the first research experience for many undergraduates.
This is often more of an educational experience for the student initially, rather than a productivity experience for the PI. Happily, sometimes both occur.
Do not accept a student unless you and/or a grad student or postdoc can spend significant time with them.
Meet regularly, at least once every 2 weeks to monitor progress.
Assign readings, presentations, and if possible, have them present a poster at a national meeting.
Encourage students to self-manage their projects.
Encourage artist/scholars to see the connections of their work as viable research endeavors to advance their individual fields.
Be supportive and provide validation for the hard work your student is expending. Unsolicited assurance can help instill confidence.
If possible, pair scholar with a graduate student for the mutual benefit of both.
Forwardness – Students may be hesitant about approaching faculty with a feeling that they don’t know much yet or they are in fear of being dismissed. Faculty can recruit students that have an interest in the classroom, or reach out to those that don’t feel capable of seeking out to their own mentor.
Persistence and repetition – Nothing is easy the first time…or, perhaps, even the fourth. The ongoing contacts with undergraduates during research projects allows faculty to give students the opportunity to struggle and eventually to emerge from those struggles with hard-won success..
Emotional honesty – We all entered our career paths because of some particular motive, often hard to state rationally but still at the core of why we do the work we’ve chosen. Our being open about the joys and challenges we find our work will help our students see how they might partake of the particular pleasures of our discipline.
Recognizing and locating alternative mentors – As students grow and become more focused in their work, they may well want to take their research into areas with which we’re less familiar or less capable of strong guidance. In this, faculty should be willing to assist in reaching out to contacts that are able to assist their student to further their research.
A publication of the Council on Undergraduate Research
Request a copy of 'How to Mentor Undergraduate Researcher'