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Being a Mentor

Most of our faculty at ETSU are experts at being a faculty mentor to undergraduate students. Much of the following may be either obvious or very familiar to you, but we thought that providing some guidelines and suggestions for the Research Faculty Mentor might be particularly useful.

As a Faculty Mentor, your role concentrates on helping the student develop all the abilities required to do quality, independent, academic research that contributes to your discipline. In particular, your task focuses on:

  1. guiding the student in selecting, developing and refining a research or creative project;
  2. teaching the student those all important, discipline-distinct research skills;
  3. enabling the student to become self-reliant; and
  4. decoding the system, including policies, rules and regulations.

Just as with graduate students or in other teaching situations, you also:

  • are responsible for the academic integrity of the student's work,
  • should help the student to be aware and sensitive to plagiarism and/or misrepresentation of information,
  • must maintain an ethical relationship with the student.

You will need to be sensitive to the issue that you are involved in a professional collaboration with the student. If your collaboration with this student results in a worthwhile contribution suitable for publication in your discipline, joint student-professor authorship often is appropriate.

The following are suggestions on how to guide your undergraduate research student through their project:

  • Weekly meetings with the student, even if brief, are a good idea. Developing self-discipline for regular, measurable work often is a difficulty for the typical undergraduate student who is also enrolled in 12-15 hours of other coursework.
  • Plan a timetable that describes "guideposts" of progress with the student. For example---projects based primarily on library research are most successful if the student completes an annotated bibliography by mid-semester; projects in the studio or performing arts and in creative writing need deadlines for completion of artistic components; and projects requiring laboratory work profit from a literature review coupled with a draft of methods & materials due by the middle of the first semester.
  • In sciences and humanities, use the students' literature review to assist them in choosing a targeted scholarly journal to follow for the format of their written report or thesis. Be sure to explain how specifically you wish them to follow that format. In the case of more creative works, requiring a written essay or narrative that describes the goals of the project, both personal and in context of the discipline. They may expand the written narrative to document their project with photographs of artwork or performances, a diary of their experiences, and/or the creative writing piece authored by the student.

If you are working with an honors student who needs to prepare a Senior Honors Thesis for presentation and submission to the University Honors Program Office, please review these guidelines and deadlines for an Honors Thesis.

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USPS Mailing Address:
  Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities
The Honors College at
East Tennessee State University
PO Box 70589
Johnson City, TN 37614-1708

Phone: 423.439.6926 or 423.439.6076
Fax: 423.439.6080
email:  Foster Levy

Street Addresses of The Honors College offices:
  Administration: Yoakley Hall, Room 129
161 S. Dossett Drive
University & Midway Scholars: Ada Earnest House
310 S. Dossett Drive
Honors-in-Discipline Programs: Yoakley Hall, Room 206
161 S. Dossett Drive
Fine & Performing Art Scholars: Yoakley Hall, Room 206
161 S. Dossett Drive
Undergraduate Research: Yoakley Hall, Room 129
161 S. Dossett Drive
International Programs & Services: Yoakley Hall, Room 122
161 S. Dossett Drive

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