Mentor ISU Undergraduates

Best Practices for Mentoring Undergraduate Students1:

1. Make yourself available.

Be sure to take the time to explain your research to new undergraduate researchers. Discuss their future goals and how research can help them achieve those goals.

2. Foster community.

Strive to create a balance between positive reinforcement and negative consequences that are clearly communicated beforehand. Build community among researchers by hosting research team meetings as well as individual meetings, attending seminars as a group, and participating in social outings together.

3. Be attentive.

Help students set timelines and deadlines and, when appropriate, use multiple lines of communication. Set clear goals with students by week, month, and/or semester. Establish a check-in system with regularly scheduled meetings to discuss students' progress and provide feedback.

4. Encourage participation in the broader research community.

Encourage students to utilize campus resources to find more opportunities and to attend local and national conferences. Let them know about events happening in the department or on campus and about student groups that may be relevant to their goals and interests.

5. Be understanding.

Recognize that undergraduate students often need longer turn-around times than graduate students and that their coursework must remain their top priority. Provide constructive feedback that clearly identifies how they can improve, and provide opportunities for them to do so.

Additional Resources:

Council on Undergraduate Research Publications

Resources On Mentoring Undergraduates, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being A Mentor To Students In Science And Engineering (Online Book), National Academies Press

Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers: Best Practices,University Of Pittsburgh’s Quality Of Life Technology Center

Entering MentoringThe Wisconsin Program For Scientific Teaching


1Adapted from University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research