A Community of Scholars -
According to Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend, students in science and engineering laboratories often struggle to build relationships with faculty, so they "find their mentor elsewhere - perhaps a fellow student ... [or] a wise friend" (National Academy of Sciences, 1997, p. 2). This workshop is designed to help develop "fellow students" and "wise friends" into effective mentors.
The 12-hour workshop, part of the HHMI - Community of Scholars program at Vanderbilt University, is offered to teaching fellows (advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs) who serve as mentors to undergraduate research interns (rising freshmen and sophomores) working in biological science laboratories, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The workshop occurs immediately before the undergraduate interns arrive for the 9-week Community of Scholars summer research program.
The workshop has five broad goals. By the end of the workshop, Teaching Fellows will:
The workshop is grounded in the literature on mentoring, publications on STEM education reform such as Bio 2010 (National Research Council, 2003), and the principles from cognitive science as summarized in Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (eds.), How People Learn (National Research Council, 2000).
We focus particular attention on the design of challenging yet achievable research projects for the undergraduate interns. By the workshop's end, mentors have developed both a research project for each intern and a plan to support the intern as she grows in knowledge, skill, and confidence during the summer program.
We also concentrate on applying core principles from cognitive science research to help the interns learn both the technical procedures and the biological concepts that are the foundations of lab work. Building on How People Learn, we explore:
The workshop is divided into four 3-hour sessions, typically stretching over two days. Detailed facilitator notes and materials are available here:
Session 1: Emphasizing the differences between novice and expert learners.
Session 2: An introduction to project design
Session 3: Assessment, feedback and mistakes
Session 4: Learning in community, and more project design
Prior to the workshop, participants receive the following materials:
More about this workshop and website:
This workshop has been developed over the past 4 years by Patricia Armstrong, Laurie Earls, Peter Felten, and Jeff Johnston from the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching, in close collaboration with Community of Scholars faculty and senior mentors at Vanderbilt.
The workshop specifically described on this website represents the iteration from May 2005. We have continued to make changes to the workshop since that time, however, most notably in the following ways:
We are more than happy to share what we have learned from conducting these mentoring workshops over the past 5-years, but these workshop materials are protected by copyright. You are welcome to use and adapt these materials as long as you meet the following 2 conditions:
Questions about the workshop or requests to use/adapt workshop materials should be directed to Jeff Johnston at Vanderbilt University 's Center for Teaching or 615-322-7290.
Center for Teaching
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