The faculty mentor is key to the success of efforts to engage undergraduate students in adding to the body of knowledge or creative works. The mentor serves as a coach and guide into the practice of original discovery. Mentoring is both a demanding and rewarding experience.
The mentor is the person the student goes to for advice on research design, data collection, studio questions, stage setup, etc., with the student taking both ownership and responsibility for the direction of the research or creative project.
Because of the central role the faculty mentor plays in an undergraduate project, it is crucial that a student receive mentor endorsement as a part of their application for either assistant or scholar awards. The mentor form is provided on the second page of either the scholar or assistant application form and must be filled in by the student's chosen mentor. A mentor's endorsement is weighed heavily in the committee's decision to fund.
From time to time the Pedagogy Task Force will arrange workshops to assist faculty in mentoring, inquiry-based learning, and working with students to inculcate habits of mind that lead to lifelong learning. These workshops will be in cooperation with MTSU's Center for Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technologies or the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.
The faculty mentor can provide valuable shaping to an undergraduate's intellectual development. In mentoring, faculty will serve a number of roles that will vary with discipline, with student and with faculty. Some of the more common roles include:
- Encourage and affirm student successes
- Provide guidance in selection, development and execution of project
- Be a role model for ethical conduct and personal pursuit of excellence
- Read drafts of proposal, papers, presentations, etc.
- Help build self-sufficiency and persistence qualities
- Make sure protege's protected time for research is honored
- Suggest appropriate venues for presentations and publications
- Clearly define expectations for student
- Develop a schedule of regular meetings with the student
- Facilitate a comfortable working relationship