Mentoring Experience: Guidelines for effective undergraduate mentoring of scholarly endeavors

Experience in research or creative activity can be among the most significant experiences in an undergraduate students academic career. This endeavor involves collaboration between mentor and student that is inherently very different from the standard classroom experience and even from an independent study project. It is vital that the direction and support provided by the faculty mentor be significant and effective. Faculty mentors must acknowledge that in addition to being exciting and rewarding, this experience can be overwhelming for many undergraduates. Mentors must recognize that independent scholarship demands a level of intellectual and creative independence that is new to most students. The mentor is responsible for helping their mentee overcome these obstacles, providing a balance between challenging the mentee while also being supportive of their development into independent scholars.

The following guidelines are provided by the Undergraduate Research Council to help students and faculty understand the expectations of mentoring at GVSU. These guidelines are intended to be inclusive and general enough to cover projects in any discipline that last from a few weeks to several years.


An exemplary mentor:

  • Provides a cooperative and supportive environment in which the students can learn and engage in active scholarship.
  • Recognizes that this experience is unique to each student, and the mentoring must be tailored to that students unique needs.
  • Learns and respects students personality and style of work, understands their expectations, and is transparent with them about what the work will include.
  • Develops a students intellectual independence by facilitating the students progress from being a receiver of information to a contributor.

  • The mentor provides an environment in which the student can make this transition.
  • The mentor serves as leader at the outset of the investigation and generally sets the tone for the entire project in collaboration with the student.
  • As the project progresses, the student should be able to work with more independence on original work.
  • During the course of the experience, the student should become more engaged in their project and accept the responsibility of having more control of the direction of the project. Mentor and student can begin to work together like colleagues.

  • Recognizes that student navigation of the complexities of original scholarly work requires support and patience from the mentor.
  • Exposes student to the tools and methods of the discipline.
  • Provides direction to enhance and reinforce the students discipline-specific or interdisciplinary methods and skills.
  • Teaches and models ethical scholarly inquiry in the discipline.
  • Provides effective and meaningful student-faculty interaction.

  • The student should develop a thorough understanding of their specific responsibilities and maintain the tools and resources available to successfully fulfill those responsibilities.
  • The mentor participates fully in all aspects of the students research experience or creative activity.
  • The mentor holds frequent and regularly scheduled meetings with the student and is available as often as needed.

  • Provides experiences and information to assist with the students professional development and to help them make informed decisions about their futures in their field or interest area.
  • Enhances students communication skills.
  • The mentor identifies opportunities for students to disseminate their work as appropriate for the discipline. GVSU supports this endeavor by sponsoring Student Scholars Day on campus and providing dissemination funds (e.g. Academic Conference Fund) to present at external meeting.
  • The mentor provides written and oral feedback, which should include an evaluation of the students progress, comments and revisions of written and oral presentations, and discussion of the future directions of their project.
  • The mentor teaches the student that part of being a scholar is to effectively communicate and share the work with the larger community.
  • Facilitates networking opportunities as appropriate in the discipline.

Approved by Undergraduate Research Council, 12/13



Page last modified August 12, 2014