June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
New Engineering Educators
11.925.1 - 11.925.11
Mentoring New Faculty: What Works and What Does not Work
The world of academia has a unique set of challenges to the new faculty member. This is true even if the person just graduated with a Ph.D. since professors face many challenges that are not faced by a graduate student.
There are several different ways mentoring can be done. One way is to have the direct supervisor of the professor also serve as his mentor. While this has some merit, a new professor may be reluctant to share issues or struggles with a supervisor. A second and often more effective way is to have mentoring from a more senior professor who is not the new person’s direct supervisor. In this way the new professor can be very honest in sharing challenges because the comments will not in any way be used in yearly evaluations. A third way is to have mentoring done on a spontaneous basis as the occasion presents itself. While many good things can come of this, we do not believe it is adequate to rely on such informal situations as the sole basis of mentoring. A fourth mentoring method is an organized program where more experienced faculty members make presentations about various aspects of faculty life. This is often done in group settings with perhaps all of the university’s new faculty members in one group. This can be valuable in conveying useful information (such as how to use the library and the approval process for research proposals), but is less useful in helping a new professor deal with issues of day-to-day academic life and requirements specific to his or her new department. A fifth way is for peer mentoring to occur among the new professors themselves.
While all five of these methods have some merit, we believe that an organized approach involving a personal mentor who is not the professor’s immediate supervisor is the most important component of any successful mentoring program.
The authors will discuss a number of activities that can be used in this mentoring process. They will include methods that worked as well as those that did not work.
The authors have all served as leaders of departments and have been involved with mentoring new faculty in a variety of ways. The first author served for five years as a Mechanical Engineering Program Chair. This past year the first author became a Department Chair at a new university. As department chair he has responsibility to mentor new faculty, and as a new professor, he was also on the receiving end of an established mentoring program. The second author moved to an endowed teaching chair after eight years of service as Program Chair and Academic Director of multiple engineering programs at another university. The third author has served as a Department Head for a very large program. These new experiences of the first two authors will be integrated into the already developed activities to form an overall suggested plan of action.
Jordan, W., & Elmore, B., & Bradley, W. (2006, June), Mentoring New Faculty: What Works And What Does Not Work Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--709
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