Paper No. 206-19
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM-6:00 PM
THE ROLE OF GRADUATE STUDENT MENTORS IN UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH: REFLECTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DEVELOPING SUPPORTIVE RESEARCH GROUP ENVIRONMENTS AND STUDENT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The role of effective mentors in undergraduate and graduate education has been widely documented with the potential for positive impacts for both the mentor and mentee. These impacts include an increased sense of belonging and the establishment of communities with role models. Furthermore, opportunities for graduate students to serve as mentors provides an important avenue for professional development when supported and implemented effectively. Qualitative reflections for two M.S. level graduate students highly involved as mentors in a range of undergraduate research projects within the geoscience over the past two years are presented here including supporting undergraduate cohorts associated with a current NSF GEOPATHS program. The setting is a diverse geology lab group with undergraduate students from freshman to senior level. Projects vary from course-based demonstrations to long-term projects resulting in the presentation of abstracts and the submission of manuscripts for peer-review. Projects also involved collaboration in a range of environments from the classroom to day-and week-long field work. Graduate students also assisted with writing and editing of undergraduate student-led abstracts, posters, and peer-reviewed papers. Challenges included time management, establishing student expectations, irregular communication, and managing task allocation. Benefits included learning how to manage and effectively address misunderstandings, learning the importance of communicating in a timely and efficient manner such that expectations are clear, mentees feel supported, and enhancing organization skills. Observed challenges experienced by mentees included developing clear hypotheses independently, time management, knowing how to best address gaps in understanding, and comprehension of scientific literature. Benefits included experiences collecting scientific data, observing, training associated with instrumentation, and direct time-intensive instruction focused on building scientific knowledge. These observations and reflections will be used to inform future mentor-mentee relationships, help in the design of intentional and focused mentor training for graduate students, and aim to provide insight into the role of graduate students as mentors in the geosciences.