New to Mentoring?
We advise reading an article called “Ten Time—Saving Tips for Undergraduate Research Mentors” (Coker, J. S. and E. Davies, 2006, J. Natural Resources Life Sci Education 35: 110-112; download). Their advice is very appropriate for BRR advisors:
- Design a simple project with clear goals.
- Provide hands-on supervision.
- Ensure good communication and explanations.
- Involve students early.
- Sign a student-mentor contract.
- Maintain well-written protocols for all standard lab equipment/techniques.
- Establish student research “communities” (refers to training multiple students at once—this could include grad students and postdocs).
- Capitalize on inexperience (refers to enthusiasm, willingness to think outside the box, and computer literacy of incoming students).
- Create a template computer file for student posters (BRR data presentation class, taken by students in their final year, can help with this; also, many such templates are available online).
- Increase retention (the longer a student stays in your lab, the more productive the student will be and the better the experience will be for everyone--that's one reason why BRR students complete 14 credits of research).
• Undergraduate research works best when the student interacts closely with at least one other person in the research project: the primary or secondary mentor, or someone with whom the student works, such as a graduate student, research assistant or postdoc. The research project will be the most successful for everyone involved if opportunities for these interactions are available.
• Your student needs you to explain and demonstrate how you expect members of your research group to keep records, including the laboratory notebook and data organization and storage.
• Make sure the student receives the appropriate training in how to follow the expectations of the lab, such as safety requirements, standard operating procedures, attending lab meetings, and the like.
For suggestions and help with mentoring, please feel free to consult with the BRR Director, Kate Field. We can also arrange for new mentors to talk with experienced mentors if needed.