Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers: An Exploratory Study of Students’ and Professors’ Perceptions

Sep. 15, 2010

Source: Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, Volume 18, Issue 3, 2010, p. 269-291. 

The purpose of this paper was to understand whether the long‐held beliefs about the importance of mentoring would be revealed as what actually occurs in an undergraduate research program.

The authors describe students’ perceptions of the mentoring process and students’ beliefs about how it impacted their experiences as undergraduate researchers and their development as scientists.
The authors also described are professors’ perceptions of their roles and effectiveness as mentors in students’ development as scientists.

A multi‐case narrative analysis was conducted of two groups, 5 undergraduate science scholars and 5 mentoring professors.
The two groups were each interviewed on two occasions at the beginning and end of the first year of a funded research program.

As this grounded research study shows, students and professors described student gains as increased technical expertise and communication skills.
Professors suggested that they were available to students on a regular and frequent basis. However, students’ experiences suggested a contradiction. The students argued that they were often mentored by postgraduates, technical assistants, and other students; their meetings with mentoring professors were infrequent and at times distant.

With respect to mentoring, this finding highlights the differences between beliefs and the reality of what was delivered.

Updated: Jul. 05, 2011