Facilitating Effective Mentoring

By Janet Rankin, Sr. Associate Director for Teaching Initiatives

I just returned from the Facilitating Entering Mentoring Workshop at the 2013 SACNAS National Conference in San Antonio, TX.

In this workshop, we discussed the content and skills needed to successfully implement research mentor training curricula. Aside from being able to learn from the experiences of workshop facilitators Christine Pfund and Stephanie House, who, together with 15+ years of experience developing and delivering programs to support mentors in the sciences. One of the most interesting and valuable aspects of the workshop was the opportunity to meet and work with faculty and administrators from a broad spectrum of colleges, universities, and institutions across the country, including: University of Chicago, Texas Tech, University of Texas, Scripps, San Francisco State, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and George Mason University. Even though the target audiences for mentoring programs vary wildly from institution to institution, many of us face similar challenges: from tailoring programs to fit diverse needs and populations, to the availability of trained mentoring workshop facilitators, to identifying and securing stable funding sources and institutional support for these programs.

Here at MIT we are lucky to have already established the Facilitating Effective Research program - which I have run for UROP Mentors, in cooperation with Melissa Martin-Greene in UAAP, and for MSRP Mentors, together with Monica Orta in ODGE. One of the great things about the workshop was learning about the availability of online mentoring reources that can be used to develop workshops to fit the needs a range of mentors: from UROP and MSRP mentors, to department/discipline specific mentors. I am looking to developing programs to help support graduate students, post-docs, and/or any members of the MIT community who would like to become more effective research mentors.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to talk about mentoring seminars to meet the needs of your group.

-JR (Janet Rankin)