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Office of Undergraduate Research

Faculty FAQ

What is mentoring in the context of Undergraduate Research?

Mentoring is a relationship in which a faculty or staff member provides guidance to an undergraduate student who is working towards successful completion of research, scholarship, or a creative activity. The mentoring relationship develops as a student requests advice and guidance on their project and as they develop professional skills consistent with their discipline.  Mentors may work with teams of students or in one-on-one relationships.

What is a mentor?

A mentor is a faculty or staff member who is willing to devote attention and assistance to a student as that student plans, develops, and implements their research, scholarship, or creative project. A mentor answers questions and provides guidance to a mentee.

Am I qualified to mentor?

There is no experience necessary to be a mentor.

What does a mentor do?

A mentor sets up a regular meeting schedule with their mentee to provide guidance and answer mentee's questions and concerns. Discussion topics range depending upon the challenges and progress of the project undertaken.  It is HIGHLY recommended that mentors discuss project expectations and workload requirements with their mentee before agreeing to assist students with their projects.

How much time does mentoring require?

Mentoring is a major time commitment that usually proceeds over multiple quarters.  Given the time requirements, many mentors choose to work with teams of undergraduate students on a single project which then also aids students in developing collaboration and communication skills.  

Establishing expected benchmarks and timeframes early in a project may also assist students in completing work in a timely manner.  Consider using events such as the annual Symposium On University Research and Creative Expression as a goal to help ensure continued progress is being made.  

What are the benefits of being a mentor?

A faculty or staff's participation as a mentor is a critical component in developing well-rounded, educated, and capable graduates.  Bonds formed with mentees often last throughout  a student's academic and post-graduation career and a mentor's energy and enthusiasm contributes to creating a welcoming and comfortable learning environment for students.  

Overall, faculty benefit in terms of both personal and professional satisfaction. As students are more productive, faculty in turn attract better students, extend their professional network of future colleagues, and amplify their own success.

What can I have student mentees do?

The goal for undergraduate research is to expose students to the way knowledge is discovered or created, and the critical thinking that goes into this process. Undergraduate research project can be extremely exploratory or can be a  part of an already established project.  Check out the possibilities at the Mentoring Best Practices web page. 

What options are there at Central for funding student researchers?

Several programs exist to fund student research, scholarship, or creative activities at Central.  In addition to Undergraduate Research or Travel Fellowships offered through the Office of Undergraduate Research, check out other funding opportunities listed at Student Resources: Other Opportunities web page.

If you have any further questions or suggestions, please contact Dr. Kara Gabriel, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, at gabrielk@cwu.edu or call (509) 963-2387.