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Information For Research Mentors

Mentoring Resources: Engaging Undergraduates

Steps Toward Selecting A Student

  • Get the word out! Post your research opportunity on this web site.
  • Identify an application process for interested students (e.g., consider a combination of written materials and interview).
  • Try to ascertain the level of intellectual independence of student applicants (e.g., may consider past accomplishments, extra-curricular activities, and interest or dedication level).
  • Define your role as a mentor.
  • You can also visit Teaching @ the UW , a site designed to direct faculty, staff, and teaching assistants to the UW centers, offices, and programs that provide resources related to teaching.

Set Up & Communicate A Work Plan

  • Meet with the selected student to determine the number of credits a student can earn, draw up a work and meeting schedule, and benchmark anticipated accomplishments.
  • Provide an orientation to introduce the student to other group members and the payroll coordinator (if paid position) and to go over expected work habits. (Remember: your student may not have held a job before.)
  • Establish from the outset what work habits are important to you and the project, which might include showing up when expected, documenting and following through on project work, and maintaining a neat work area.
  • Identify any specific training the student will need, and how she or he will go about getting the training. Are there independent study materials, or will you or your designee do the training one-on-one? How quickly do you expect the student to master required skills, and how should she or he practice those skills?

Keep Communications Open

  • Be sure that students regularly report to you or your designee to:
    • discuss their progress;
    • ask questions; and,
    • review resources and documentation of research.
  • Continue to identify resources that the student should be consulting as she/he progresses.
  • Written project status reports may be a good idea if your schedule is very busy. Writing also helps the student integrate the details of their day-to-day work into a larger research framework.
  • If the student attends a group meeting, encourage her or him to participate or present work.

Identify Benchmarks & Recognize Accomplishments

  • Students often feel very frustrated in a research setting, so be sure to recognize their accomplishments, large and small, as their work progresses. You may need to help them understand that in many cases frustration is an integral part of moving forward.

Maintain A Research Log Or Notebook

  • Students should keep notes of what they do and record results regularly for their own records and in some cases so that another student or researcher may continue the project after the student leaves.
  • Many students do not know how to keep a research notebook, so an example would be helpful. Be sure to discuss any proprietary issues concerning the student's research, particularly if it is a part of an ongoing and/or funded project.
  • Remember: A common problem is student-generated software on protocols that are impossible for others to run once the student is gone.
  • Be sure the student is conducting research in an ethical manner.

Encourage Students To Present and Fund Their Work

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