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FFF1.07 - Promoting Undergraduate Success through Structured Graduate Mentorship 
Date/Time:
April 22, 2014   11:30am - 11:45am
 
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Mentoring relationships can be tremendously valuable for both the mentors and their protégés; however, these partnerships may be difficult to establish without a designated mode of communication. We will discuss our implementation of such a venue within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University to both address undergraduate concerns and train graduate students to be future mentors.We designed a mentorship program with graduate student mentors and undergraduate student protégés to facilitate dialogue and spread ideas between the various communities in the department. While these groups of people see each other daily, we found that interaction was rare outside of a teaching assistant - student type of exchange. Furthermore, undergraduate students were seeking additional resources to help realize their post-graduate goals. Graduate students in turn had recently navigated similar situations successfully and were willing to engage. Our implementation of the program received wide departmental support, with 19 graduate students and 15 undergraduate students (about three quarters of the undergraduate materials science student body) requesting to participate. We formed three types of test mentorship groups:Type I. 7 traditional groups of one mentor and one mentee,Type II. 4 groups of two mentors and one mentee,Type III. 2 groups of two mentors and two mentees.We paired groups based on common interests and goals, along with preference for particular mentoring styles.This 8-month program was divided into an introduction stage (February), a meeting period (March through September), and a final recognition event (October). During the introduction stage, we facilitated a welcome event that included goal-setting exercises, icebreakers and conflict resolution strategies. During the next 6-month span we asked groups to meet at least twice for unstructured events. We created an official Stanford course website as a channel to communicate with participants. Finally, we hosted a dinner to recognize achievements and gather feedback for this pilot program.We will discuss execution, reception and assessment of this inaugural program. The hosted events were positively received, and nearly all groups requested additional structured events. We further found that in Type II and III groups, the mentor-mentor relationship was an important factor influencing group dynamics and sustained interest in the program. While assessment is often challenging in volunteer-related activities, we will provide suggestions to gauge progress and share techniques for successful implementation at other universities.This work was funded by the MRS Special Projects Initiative and the Stanford Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
 


 
 
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