Engaging in faculty-mentored research and creative work is one of 11 nationally recognized “high-impact education practices” where undergraduate students apply what they have learned in the classroom to tackle the unknown through hands-on activities under the mentorship of faculty. For faculty, mentoring undergraduate research and creative work is much more than just teaching or providing information. It is about “showing students the ropes” – that is, conveying the experience, skills, knowledge, and culture of conducting research and creative work that fosters a student’s academic, personal, and professional development.
Mentoring of undergraduate research and creative work also prepares students for success during and well beyond their degree programs. Mentoring develops the next generation of responsible and knowledgeable citizens and professionals who are ready to solve the future problems that lie ahead and make positive contributions to society. All of this would be difficult, if not impossible, without the effort, energy, and expertise of faculty mentors. UROP hopes that your mentoring experience is satisfying and rewarding.
Expectations for UHM Faculty Mentoring UROP Project Funding Recipients
The following are UROP’s basic expectations for UHM faculty who mentor a UROP Project funding recipient(s) to promote a positive and fulfilling experience for both mentors and mentees:
- Commit time and effort towards understanding the mentee’s individual needs, and developing the mentee academically and professionally
- Review the mentee’s Project Funding Application and provide feedback before submission to UROP (ideally, multiple times via an iterative process)
- Submit a Project Mentor Form to UROP on behalf of the mentee at the time of application (Required for the application to be reviewed)
- Create a mentorship plan with the mentee, including a project timeline, meeting plans, work schedule, mentor/mentee responsibilities, etc.
- Provide an impartial evaluation of the mentee’s proposed project to UROP
- Review/Confirm mentee email submissions to UROP throughout the life of the funded project (e.g., Memorandum of Agreement, Receipt Report, budget change request, project extension request, etc.)
- Establish and communicate expectations and responsibilities to the mentee on the mentor-mentee relationship and deliverables associated with their research/creative work project early on and regularly throughout the project
- Ensure the mentee and all personnel working on the project meet the relevant training and research compliances, and that these are maintained for the duration of the project
- Be a source of knowledge and expertise, as well as encouragement and support
- Evaluate progress on the mentee’s project and provide feedback regularly through the project
- As appropriate, increase mentee ownership of the project over time
- Encourage the mentee to share the results of their project with the campus, their professional society(s) and the larger community. Provide feedback on verbal/written presentations prior to presenting, and attend the mentee’s presentation to show your support
- Submit a Project Evaluation Form to UROP on behalf of the mentee at the end of the project (Required for the mentee to complete their UROP-funded project)
Best Practices in Mentoring Undergraduate Research/Creative Work
The following tips for mentors are applicable throughout the undergraduate research and creative work community:
- In consultation with the mentee at the start of the project, discuss and set rigorous and high, but realistic and clear expectations on schedule, workload, responsibility, communication, role, etc. for both the mentee and the mentor, and revisit periodically throughout the project.
- Set mentee’s academic and professional development plan and goals early via open dialogue, and be attentive to the academic, career, and emotional needs of the mentee throughout the project.
- Meet and communicate with the mentee regularly by dedicating time for one-to-one mentoring.
- Encourage the mentee to enroll in course credits for the project (e.g., 399 or 499 credits) so that both the mentor and the mentee receive credit for the time and work invested.
- Understand the mentee’s academic background and capacity, and create expectations and a support structure with this in mind; every mentee will be different in terms of their background, readiness and mentoring needs.
- Build a community network of research/creative students where possible to create peer support structures.
- Build mutual respect and trust between the mentor and mentee.
- Remind the mentee of their ownership of the project and, as appropriate, increase their responsibility and ownership over time.
- Convey that setbacks, struggles, and failures are part of conducting research and creative work and teach positive attitude and resilience to the mentee.
- Provide constructive feedback on both what the mentee is doing well, and where and how they could improve.
“Straight from the Mentor’s Mouth”: Past Experiences of UHM Faculty Mentors of UROP Student Research and Creative Work Projects
The following are mentorship experiences shared by UHM faculty who mentored UROP Project funding recipients:
“This was my first time mentoring a UROP project, and it was done within my first year at the University. I was unfamiliar with the UROP process, but I was excited to work with students who were eager to pursue additional research about new technologies which align with my own research interests. I feel I have a better understanding of how UROP works and how I can be a better mentor. I look forward to mentoring more student projects, and also having future UROP projects align with my creative work and research.” – Academy for Creative Media
“I find that UROP is really a great program and am happy to have been given the opportunity to mentor a student who conducted fascinating research in France – even though her project was quite remote from my own area of expertise. I learned a lot!” – Languages and Literatures of Europe and the Americas
“I have enjoyed my experience as a mentor, working with such talented, intelligent, and motivated students. It is a terrific opportunity to work one on one with students in helping them learn and grow as scholars, researchers, and young adults. I particularly appreciate the opportunity for students in the humanities, since students in the sciences have far more opportunities for research and project funding. This is something students can look forward to so they can try something out they might otherwise not have the chance to do.” – English
“I very much enjoyed the reports my student gave me. They raised questions for me about Hawaiian language that I had never thought to raise previously. This ultimately advances my capacity to teach a wider range of students on a broader range of topics.” – Hawaiian Language
“This is the second time that I mentored undergraduate students through UROP and the experience has been extremely positive. Their research has helped to some extent my own work, but, most importantly, I believe it has made me a much better mentor for students. In the future, I hope to continue mentoring students through UROP.” – Atmospheric Sciences
“My UROP experience was great and I’d strongly recommend it to other faculty. Both my mentees and I have learned a lot, and both projects achieved their goals so that we can proceed and do more research on the selected systems. Additionally, my students developed their writing and presenting skills by presenting in group meetings and the UROP symposium. Over all, very pleased with the professionalism from UROP and what I learned as a mentor as well.” – Chemistry
“I really think this is the best program UH can provide for undergraduate students. Not only does it give students an experience they would not otherwise consider, it gives faculty members a skill at recruiting and retaining students to help provide invigorating and new ideas to try related to their research. Moreover, it aids in improving the skill sets for undergraduates for graduate study, such as disseminating work in written and oral forms.” – Electrical Engineering
“UROP is an excellent program. It provides a means for mentors to encourage and support studies designed by students and which might normally not fall under an active grant the mentor has. Thus, it allows mentors to expand their research program while also providing an opportunity for undergraduate to conduct active learning in a real-world setting.” – Oceanography
“I have mentored several undergraduate students through the UROP program over the years. Overall, it is a very rewarding experience. In many occasions it was my mentees’ first lab research experience, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to show them the wonderful world of “research”, and make a difference in making some of them choosing a research career to make our world a better place. I applaud UROP for providing these opportunities to our undergraduate students.” – Molecular Biosciences & Bioengineering
Below are additional, external resources on mentoring undergraduate students in research or creative work for your reference.
Best Practices for Mentorship:
Faculty Mentor Expectations:
Writing Recommendation Letters:
Self-Reflection as a Mentor:
Virtual Mentorship Practices: