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Leadership 105: Mentoring Graduate Students Roles And Philosophy

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade I

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.834.1 - 14.834.7

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Paper Authors


Jerry Samples University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown

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DR. JERRY SAMPLES holds a BS Ch.E. from Clarkson College, MS and Ph.D. in ME from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Samples served at the United States Military Academy twelve years before assuming the position of Director of the Engineering Technology Division at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in 1996. After a five year period as the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs he returned to the Engineering Technology Division. He is a Fellow of the International Society for Teaching and Learning receiving that honor in 2007. In 2008, he received the American Society for Engineering Education National Outstanding Teaching Award.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Leadership 105: Mentoring Graduate Students: Roles/Philosophy


The purpose of this paper is to define the roles of the faculty member and to discuss philosophies that will lead to a relationship that ensures success of the graduate student and, ultimately, the faculty member – since success for both makes the team tremendously successful.

The faculty roles include guidance in course work, assignment of pertinent research, development of research skills, development of writing skills, development of presentation skills, and adherence to time management principles. The faculty member must assess these areas and concentrate upon the rapid development of weak skills and effective use of stronger skills to maximize the output of the faculty-student team. The team must buy-in to the philosophy that is discussed at the initial meeting, before the graduate student is selected and hired.

The faculty philosophy must be one of a business model with definite deadlines, in-progress reviews, clearly stated assignments, strict enforcement of deadlines, frequent observations of work habits, and, respectively, rewards and penalties when work is completed or deadlines are missed. It is important that a “contract” is agreed-upon and enforced by the faculty member and adhered-to by both parties. These are standard mentoring tools that are applicable in any organization, but are more important when the stakes are so high for both parties.

A comparison of the results of effective and ineffective mentoring will be described to illustrate the “best practices” that lead to success of the faculty member and the graduate student. Conclusions and recommendations for future work by offending parties will tie the comparison to the discussion of roles and philosophy.


The idea of mentoring faculty 1,2,9 is a long standing practice that has been extended to graduate students.3-7,9 Some of the graduate student mentoring has been focused upon getting graduate students into STEM programs, while others focus on teaching and/or research. In each case, the fundamentals of mentoring have sound theoretical and practical underpinnings and sound much like the material presented by Samples2.

Mentoring should be a team event where each agrees to the relationship. This is usually decided during the interview process when graduate students are selected based on their background and desire to work in a particular field or on a specific research endeavor. A portion of the faculty mentoring material presented by Samples can be edited by replacing the word “faculty” with the phrase “graduate student” as seen below:

The mentor and the person being mentored need to be teamed up early on in the new graduate student’s time at the university, preferably immediately after the first term begins. Some of the keys to a good relationship are: ≠ The mentor and the person being mentored must agree to the arrangement

Samples, J. (2009, June), Leadership 105: Mentoring Graduate Students Roles And Philosophy Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

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