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What is Effective Undergraduate Research Mentoring?

Based on some of the literature on mentoring and personal experience, the Scholarly Activity Mentoring Study Group (SAMS), a faculty Community of Practice, put together a Definition of Effective Undergraduate Student Research Mentoring. The definition document describes mentor attributes and activities that enhance the student learning experience.

Definition of Effective Mentoring

Effective Mentorship

Key Mentor Attributes

  • Mentor has the disciplinary expertise required to mentor the project
  • Mentor designs a project appropriate to the student and the subject matter
  • Mentor leads the student through stages of the research project and personal development
    • Recruitment
    • Initiation
    • Cultivation
    • Transformation
    • Closure
  • Mentor maintains a supportive collaborative environment throughout

Description of Effective Mentoring

Mentor Awards Process

Awards for Mentoring 
The Community of Practice also developed a process for selecting an early-career Emerging Mentor and a more experienced Career Mentor each year for an award. Criteria for these awards are based on the Definition of Effective Undergraduate Research Mentoring and input from focus groups of student researchers. 

Excellence in Mentoring Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Awards
Two awards have been created to honor faculty and staff who mentor students in their research, scholarly and creative projects. 

The Emerging Mentor in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award is for a mentor who has worked at UW-Eau Claire for 5 years or less. 

Previous Winners:

  • Saori Braun, Mentor in Kinesiology
  • Bart Dahl, Mentor in Chemistry
  • Elizabeth Glogowski, Mentor in Materials Science
  • Kaishan Kong, Mentor in Languages
  • Rob Lodge, Mentor in Geology
  • Laura Suppes, Mentor in Watershed Institute
  • Arthur Grothe, Mentor in Music and Theatre Arts
  • Jarrod Hines, Mentor in Psychology
  • Tom Sather, Mentor in Communication Sciences and Disorders

The Excellence in Mentoring in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award is for those who have been at UW-Eau Claire longer.

Previous Winners: 

  • James Phillips, Mentor in Chemistry
  • David Lonzarich, Mentor in Biology
  • April Bleske-Rechek, Mentor in Psychology
  • Eric Jamelske, Mentor in Economics
  • Doug Faulkner, Mentor in Geography and Anthropology
  • Jerry Hoepner, Mentor in Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Jennifer Muehlenkamp, Mentor in Psychology
  • Abby Hemmerich, Mentor in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Nominations are solicited from students and alumni. Based on the nomination materials, a committee with broad disciplinary representation selects the finalists. Finalists submit the following materials: 

  • a 2-3-page mentoring statement
  • a 2-page CV
  • collegial letters of support

Criteria for selecting the award recipients were developed based on the campus Description of Effective Mentoring .

Award Winners

2022 Mentoring Award Recipients 

The Emerging Mentor in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award highlights mentors who have been at UW-Eau Claire for no more than five years

Nora Mitchell
Nora Mitchell

Nora Mitchell, Biology - She is a highly effective and magnanimous educator and scholar who students respect and admire.  She is highly engaged in collaborative research with students in the lab as well as course-based undergraduate research experiences and displays genuine sensitivity to inclusion. 

 

Sparkman Award
Dr. David Sparkman

David Sparkman, Psychology - He is described as an amazing teacher and scholar, as well as a compassionate and devoted research mentor.  His research lab, apart from being a place that investigates and disseminates new knowledge, is also a vehicle for creating a sense of community.  He carefully balances the need to have boundaries for his own research interest and expertise, while allowing students the autonomy to decide specific details of their research and develop a sense of ownership over their projects.

 

Excellence in Mentoring Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award

Dr. Elizabeth Glogowski Award
Dr. Elizabeth Glogowski

Liz Glogowski Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering - She is extremely intentional in her student recruitment and mentoring approaches.  Her mentoring promotes learning and professional growth for students from diverse backgrounds and varying skill sets.  She has multiple external funding support that allows her to engage a large number of students in undergraduate research, sometimes as many as 15 students in her group.

 

Lee Anna Rasar Headshot
Lee Anna Rasar

Lee Anna Rasar Music and Theatre Arts - Her students speak of her passion and dedication to her field as a professor, musician and music therapist.  She engages her students in collaborative partnerships that often include community partners.  Her research projects are designed to respond to the needs of the campus and the community, and she uses this framework to guide her student researchers to learn problem-solving in a team environment.

 


2021 Mentoring Award Recipients

The Emerging Mentor in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity award highlights mentors who have been at UW-Eau Claire for no more than five years.

 
Bradley Carter headshot
Dr. Bradley Carter
Deidra Gerlach headshot
Dr. Deidra Gerlach
Sudeep Bhattacharyay
Dr. Sudeep Bhattacharyay
Coolong-Chaffin headshot
Dr. Melissa Coolong-Chaffin

Bradley Carter, Biology – A student nominator described Dr. Carter as going out of his way to provide individual attention and feedback weekly, as well as being available and responding in a very timely manner. This guidance has helped me both in the lab and at the university in general.

 

 

 

Deidra Gerlach, Chemistry Her nomination materials indicated that Dr. Gerlach is always encouraging the students in her research lab to keep going. Even if the reaction doesn't go as planned, she encourages us to keep moving forward and to try again. She reminds us that it is okay to make mistakes and to keep pursuing the goal.

The Excellence in Mentoring Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award honors a mentor who has been at UW-Eau Claire for five years or more.

Sudeep Bhattacharyay, Chemistry – His student nominators indicated that Dr. Bhattacharyay maintains a very engaging and thought-provoking lab that ties together several different disciplines. He is a caring mentor whose interest and support for his mentees continue even after their graduation.

 

 

 

 

Melissa Coolong-Chaffin, Psychology – Her nomination materials described her as a kind, caring, and energetic mentor. She builds up her students’ strengths and helps improve their weaknesses in a positive way.

 

 

 


2020 Mentoring Award Recipients

The Emerging Mentor in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award highlights mentors who have been at UW-Eau Claire for no more than five years.

 

Anjela Wong

Dr. Anjela Wong

Anjela Wong, Education Studies - A student nominator described her as a motivating, powerful, and understanding force who displays empathy and compassion to all of her students.

 

 

Wufeng Tian

Dr. Wufeng Tian

 

 

Wufeng Tian, Mathematics- Nomination materials described Dr. Tian as always helpful and precise when it comes to working on projects. He also aims to provide as many opportunities for his students as he can, and he always schedules a time he can be available.

 

 

 

The Excellence in Mentoring Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award honors a mentor who has been at UW-Eau Claire for five years or more.

 

Mary Beth Leibham

Mary Beth Leibham

Mary Beth Leibham, Psychology - Mary Beth has mentored numerous students, not just Psychology majors but also Education, Nursing, Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Kinesiology majors. One reviewer expressed that one of the most remarkable things about Mary Beth is her intellectual curiosity, as she is passionate about all of the projects she is pursuing with her students, be they student-driven or more closely tied to her specific areas of interest (e.g., overparenting).  Another reviewer claims Dr. Leibham offers students the opportunity to enhance both their knowledge and self-confidence by engaging in truly collaborative research, thus preparing them for advanced coursework and opening the doors for future opportunities.


2019 Mentoring Award Recipients

The Emerging Mentor in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award highlights mentors who have been at UW-Eau Claire for no more than five years.

 

tom sather

Tom Sather

Tom Sather, Communication Sciences and Disorders - A student nominator said, in part:   “Dr. Sather was so encouraging and supportive throughout the entire research process.  Even though I genuinely wanted to work on a research project, I had doubts about my ability to contribute.  Dr. Sather walked me through the process of what I needed to do, made his expectations clear, provided assistance along the way whenever needed, and not only taught me very valuable research skills but ultimately boosted my confidence and helped me see what I'm actually capable of.” By all accounts, Tom Sather is already an accomplished research mentor. 

 

Jarrod Hines

Jarrod Hines

Jarrod Hines, Psychology - A student nominator said: “He helps a student develop a project that they are truly passionate about and he not only matches that passion as he collaborates on the project, he also shares the dream to make any project become truly applicable to use in the real world.”   Another student remarked, “We love that Jarrod doesn't "beat around the bush", so to speak. He tells us exactly when we're doing something wrong and helps us fix it. And he's also really rewarding when we are doing stuff right.”  “He never treated us as if we were amateur, but more so colleagues of his.”

 

The Excellence in Mentoring Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award honors a mentor who has been at UW-Eau Claire for five years or more.

 

jennifer muehlenkamp

Jennifer Muehlenkamp

Jennifer Muehlenkamp, Psychology - Jennifer’s high level of scholarly productivity provides a strong role model for her students.  Her colleagues speak of her tremendous organization and intentionality in guiding her students to work independently from the very beginning of their research project, selecting the topic, through to preparation for presentations, and in some cases, involvement in writing the final manuscript.  Both colleagues and student nominators also speak glowingly of the additional professional guidance she provides to help students get ready for their next step after college.

Abby Hemmerich

Abby Hemmerich

Abby Hemmerich, Communication Sciences, and Disorders - Committee members particularly cited the large number of students Abby works with, allowing them to select their own topics and guiding them skillfully through the full research process.  Abby also launched a collaborative research group for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.  Though student participation is competitive, Abby is careful to seek out not only the strongest students, but students for whom a research experience might make the most difference, transforming “bubble” students into exceptional students. 

 

2018 Mentoring Award Recipients

The Emerging Mentor in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award highlights mentors who have been at UW-Eau Claire for no more than five years.

 

Dr. Arthur Grothe

Arthur Grothe, assistant professor of music & theatre arts. A student nominator said "Arthur is enthusiastic, careful, intelligent, and patient with his mentees. While in the preliminary stages of each project, Arthur asks the student what they would like the project to be, and aids them in constructing an outline and schedule of the project. The research process is very flexible, and the end product stems from a truly collaborative effort."

 

Dr. Laura Suppes

Dr. Laura Suppes, Watershed Institute assistant professor. A student nominator said, "Dr. Suppes cares about her students' success. She puts in so much effort to see her students excel and develop their passions." 

 

 

 

 

The Excellence in Mentoring Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award honors a mentor who has been at UW-Eau Claire for five years or more.

 

Dr. Jerry Hoepner

Dr. Jerry Hoepner, associate professor of economics. Letters of support from Jerry's colleagues note that his mentoring practice is based on the research on mentoring. They described how he embodies every aspect of UW-Eau Claire's description of an effective mentor, including careful project design, intentional recruitment of students beyond the cream of the crop, and appropriately scaffolded support and encouragement leading to a broad program of dissemination and building professional connections. In addition, they noted that he also generously mentors his departmental colleagues in mentoring research students.

2017 Mentoring Award Recipients

The Emerging Mentor in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award highlights mentors who have been at UW-Eau Claire for no more than five years.

Dr. Kaishan Kong, Languages (no picture)

Dr. Robert Lodge, Geology (no picture)

The Excellence in Mentoring Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award honors a mentor who has been at UW-Eau Claire for five years or more.

Dr. Eric Jamelske, Economics (no picture)

Dr. Doug Faulkner, Geography and Anthropology (no picture)

Faculty + Staff Quotes about Mentoring

Faculty + Staff Quotes about Mentoring

Recruitment

In your opinion, what is the best method of recruiting students?

After trying several different approaches over the years, I have discovered that both the student researchers and I are happiest and most productive when I hand-pick them. I do not have a nice, tidy set of selection criteria that I can articulate cogently. They are almost always students that I first meet in my classes. I gravitate toward the ones who are curious, engaged, creative thinkers. Lots of intelligence is a plus, but I've had some outstanding research apprentices that were academically average in comparison to their peers - but they excelled with the intensive mentoring in the lab. I also look for students whose personalities mesh well with my own, and with other members of the team, because we spend a lot of time together and I want it to be fun, both for them and for me. Nothing kills productivity like drama, so I try to select students who are friendly, straightforward, collaborative, and not competitive at the expense of their peers.
- Mickey Crothers, Psychology

Initiation

What are the first steps you take with a new project/student?

First of all, I meet with the students to interview them to see if they are truly committed to the project. I try to find out what their goals and interests are. Are they only interested in doing the F/S research for their resume and not really committed to the work? Or, do they have a true interest in learning research and are they committed to seeing the project all the way through, even if it means 1-2 years. I also give them an introduction to research, to my project, and we decide on a timeline and a regular meeting time. I answer all of the questions they may have.
- Lisa Quinn-Lee, Social Work

Cultivation

What are the most important things you can do to support students as they start on the project?

In the initial stages, I think it is most important to let students know that research can be a frustrating undertaking and that we may change directions many times before we figure out what we don't know. I think meeting often to guide their literature review and taking that process in steps is very important.
- Martha Fay, Communication and Journalism

Transformation

What do you do to help students gain confidence and develop independence?

I like to put them into situations where they must make decisions and to help them realize the nature of research often is about making decisions along the way. I put them in charge of maintaining the equipment and organizing samples and supplies. I also have them document their methods and enter their data as they collect it, stressing the importance of this organization. I think these actions help them feel ownership for their portion of the project.
- Tali Lee, Biology

Closure

How do you define successful closure of a project?

Were we able to complete the project? If not, did we learn something from it - for example, last summer I had SREU money for a project in which we would be going to Eau Claire County Jail to interview inmates. The jail was very supportive of the research and was very willing to accommodate us. The inmates did not want to talk with us. So, it was a good lesson in formal access and informal access - sure, we had the formal access from the institution, but could not get informal access from the inmates. Plus, it helped show that we could not put pressure on the institution to coerce the inmates to participate, so that reinforced the notion of ethics and the importance of protections for various populations of potential research subjects.
- Jason Spraitz, Political Science

Resources for Mentors

Tools for Mentors

A collection of tools mentors can modify and use for working with their student scholars.

Models

Student-Faculty Research Agreements

Aspects of Research Meetings

Assessment of the Mentor

Assessment of the Mentor and Student Self-Assessment

Assessment of the Student Outcomes and Experience

Frequently Asked Questions by Mentors

What is Effective Undergraduate Research Mentoring?
Based on some of the literature on mentoring and personal experience, the Scholarly Activity Mentoring Study Group (SAMS), a faculty Community of Practice, put together a Description of Effective Undergraduate Student Research Mentoring. The description document describes mentor attributes and activities that enhance the student learning experience. 

  • Mentor has the disciplinary expertise required to mentor the project
  • Mentor designs a project appropriate to the student and the subject matter
  • Mentor leads the student through stages of the research project and personal development
    • Recruitment
    • Initiation
    • Cultivation
    • Transformation
    • Closure
  • Mentor maintains a supportive collaborative environment throughout

What are some examples of Student-Faculty Research Collaboration projects?
At the core, these experiences involve faculty mentoring and a student's in-depth scholarly activity. Student-Faculty research can take place in any discipline and include activities ranging from running experiments in a lab to writing poetry. Here are examples that show the variety of possibilities:

  • Two students spent three weeks on San Salvador Island researching the impact of coral reef health and ecology on fish distribution, under the guidance of a Biology faculty member.
  • An English faculty member mentored two students as they wrote a script and created a feature-length thriller film, shot entirely in Eau Claire. They submitted the final project to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
  • A student worked with an Economics professor to study wage penalties in majority-female occupations. The student went on to present results at the annual Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity (CERCA) and win an award.

How do I get started?
Student-Faculty collaborative projects can be initiated in several ways:

  • If you notice a student who has the potential to work independently, invite them to participate in a research project with you.
  • Hear about projects from colleagues who are doing research or conference presentations, and inquire if they are interested in collaborating with you on that project or a future project. Invite students to collaborate with you.
  • Encourage students to contact you with ideas for a scholarly or creative project based on class activities such as reading, research for class assignments, or in-class discussions.
  • Take a look at what internal funding opportunities are available for student-faculty collaborations. Contact ORSP to find out about current projects.

What makes a project eligible for funding?
To be eligible for funding support at UW-Eau Claire, the project should extend beyond the confines of classroom assignments, and the student should be involved in many or all of the steps in scholarship:

  • development of the question, problem or idea within its scholarly/creative context
  • design of the approach to be applied
  • execution of the project
  • analysis, application, synthesis, and/or evaluation of the results
  • dissemination of the results/conclusions/creative product in appropriate scholarly venues

Challenges for Mentors

Based on this definition, a survey was created by a student-faculty research team to query faculty about their priorities and challenges as they relate to mentoring students in their scholarly projects. An interesting finding was that project design and student recruitment are considered the most challenging components of a mentor's role and that mentors provide the most consideration to project design and to the initial stages of the project. Preliminary results were reported in an oral session at the Mindful Teaching conference (UW System Office of Professional and Instructional Development, April 2014) and in a poster at the UW-Eau Claire Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity, April 30-May 1, 2014.

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