Maintaining Mentoring

The mentor-mentee relationship needs to be built and maintained. It should also be expected that the nature of the relationship will change over time as the graduate students starts to become more fully integrated into the department and profession. During the course of the graduate student career, it is advised that the student and mentor meet to discuss the student's progress and needs. Gaffney (1999) suggests that meetings may occur between the mentor and mentee to discuss:

Setting Goals - Each graduate student will have their own unique short-term and long-term goals. The mentor can help the student recognize and verbalize these goals and help them establish a work plan that will help them achieve them. The mentor should also make sure these goals are feasible and meet the program requirements. These goals and the progress toward them should be periodically reviewed at the discretion of the mentor and mentee. 

Determining a Meeting schedule - Review of student goals should be conducted at least annually and possibly more often at the discretion of the mentor and mentee. Regular meetings should occur to discuss research topics and other areas of concern. Appropriate types of communication may include face-to-face meetings, email, or phone, depending on the types of topics to be discussed. The professor may also wish to establish whether the student can call them at home and under what circumstances. 

Establishing Feedback - The professor may wish to tell the student what type of feedback to expect from them regarding projects and how often that feedback will occur. 

Evaluating Mentoring

There are many ways in which mentoring can be assessed including yearly reviews and student surveys. Cesa and Fraser (1989) found that a graduate student questionnaire consisting of both rankings of mentoring qualities/duties along with open-ended questions helped improve mentoring within a department. While creative researchers will probably come up with many ways of evaluating mentoring, the important thing is that some evaluation occurs. This helps establish the importance of mentoring within the department, gives feedback to the faculty on how to improve mentoring, and allows the graduate students to assess and reform their own mentoring relationship. 

Companion Questions:

1) True or False*? The mentor-mentee relationship will stay essentially the same over the course of completing the degree. 

2) True* or False? The faculty mentor should assist the graduate student in setting their short and long term goals, though the degree of help needed may depend on the student. 

* = Correct answer