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Simple Advice: Get A Mentor And Learn To Teach

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Tenure and Promotion Tricks of the Trade

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1014.1 - 8.1014.8

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Paper Authors

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Jerry Samples

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

Session 2475

Simple Advice: Get a Mentor and Learn to Teach

Jerry W. Samples University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown


New faculty members, especially those in their first tenure stream assignment, enter the process needing assistance in the development of research plans, professional development plans and teaching methods. Most have been exposed to the rigors of tenure and the demands of the position; it is not until they are in the tenure race that they find it to be “difficult”.

The “difficulty” of the process can be partially alleviated by developing a positive mentor relationship with an experienced faculty member. The best situation is the development of a relationship that is spontaneous, one where the mentor volunteers to work with the new faculty member. Assignment of a mentor by the responsible administrator can work if the mentor being assigned agrees to work with the new faculty member. In either case, the availability of a mentor can be very useful in the area of professional development.

Learning to teach is a separate issue that can be a more difficult process. The best avenue to successful teaching is to attend a workshop, or several workshops, that discuss teaching methods, from fundamentals to advanced techniques. Becoming a better teacher will increase efficiency, assist with student evaluations, and remove one of the stressors that can make the tenure years very difficult.

This paper will address the mentor process and what it can mean to new faculty members. Real cases will be illustrated to demonstrate how mentoring has helped. Similar descriptions of the process for becoming a better teacher will be illustrated. Sample cases will be described to illustrate positive results.


On the academic side of engineering, there are a myriad of responsibilities for the average faculty member regardless of the type of institution at which they serve. Teaching is an important part of the tenure and promotion process, especially at those teaching institutions where research is not emphasized. Even at those universities where research is a critical element of tenure, there must be evidence of good teaching. Grouping the research together with scholarly work leads to the general area of professional development, critical at all institutions, but more where research is highly regarded. Without professional development, there is a “probability” that the quest for tenure will be unsuccessful. If that isn’t enough to consider, there is also a service element that must be factored into the equation. How much service is enough? What kinds of service are appropriate and accepted?

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Samples, J. (2003, June), Simple Advice: Get A Mentor And Learn To Teach Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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