Faculty as Mentors in Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work: Motivating and Inhibiting Factors

Oct. 01, 2015

Source: Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, Vol. 23, No. 5, 394–410, 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study was to examine faculty engagement in mentoring practices related to the training of undergraduate student researchers. Furthermore, the authors examine the perceived sources of support and barriers to such engagement.

Data were collected from focus group included 41 faculty members across five institutions to better understand the supporting and inhibiting factors that contribute to faculty members’ engagement in mentoring undergraduate research.


The findings indicated that faculty perceptions of and engagement in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative work (URSCW) have important implications on student experiences, as well as on faculty members’ continued interest and growth through engagement in this high-impact practice.

The findings reveal three primary supports and challenges.
Faculty participants noted internal funds/compensation, student support, and other professional support as instrumental in influencing their decisions to engage as mentors in URSCW. Conversely, time, inflexibility surrounding compensation, and lack of recognition were the primary challenges noted.

The authors argue that institutional policy influence on these sources of support and challenges. Faculty members discussed the importance of internal funds or other forms of compensation to support their work with students. However, these funds are restricted in terms of use, and in some instances, are only available in the summer. The authors say that despite the burden engagement in such practices often resulted in, faculty members still found ways to support students in undergraduate research.

The authors found that time was also a major inhibitor to faculty engagement. It was found that participation in activities outside of the traditional scholarship, teaching, and service make engagement in mentoring undergraduate students in URSCW that much more challenging. Hence, the authors suggest that colleges and universities should re-evaluate distribution of time by way of responsibilities.

Regarding faculty willingness to participate in URSCW activities, the authors found that those who were more actively engaged professionally and in professional development activities were also more likely to serve as mentors to undergraduate researchers.

The authors conclude that results demonstrate that despite challenges and institutional barriers, faculty members engage given positive outcomes they experience for themselves and their students. However, institutional policies connected to supporting undergraduate research should be reviewed as a means of addressing low-cost, highly effective changes that can result in greater participation rates for all involved.

Updated: Oct. 03, 2017