Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Faculty Mentoring

Created by: Ethan Villeneuve, Graduate Associate at The Center for Teaching and Learning

Edited by: Brooke Doty, Tech Fellow at The Center for Teaching and Learning

New faculty members are in a transitional period in their life where mentorship can be crucial to their success. Any new job requires a specific set of skills, responsibilities, training, familiarization of one’s surrounding, and knowledge of guidelines. An instructor is no different. Being a new instructor can seem overwhelming, and having someone who is accessible to be a trusted guide through the beginning of one’s instructional career is enormously beneficial.

Being a mentor is a multifaceted time consuming activity. With extensive knowledge in teaching, research, service, and familiarity of institutional expectations, an experienced instructor obviously cannot bequeath all this information to a new instructor in one sitting. New things will always come up and new questions will always need to be answered. As a mentor, you will play many roles. Research suggests four types of roles that predict the essence of a good mentor:

The Friend interacts with the mentee socially, providing advice about people and helping with personal problems. The second type, Career Guide, promotes the development of the mentee's research, inclusion in a network of colleagues, and his/her professional visibility. The Information Source provides information about formal and informal expectations for promotion and tenure, publication outlets, and committee work. The Intellectual Guide promotes an equal relationship, collaborates with the mentee on research or publications, and provides constructive criticism and feedback. (Sands, R., Parson, L., & Duane, J., 1991, p. 189)

You may only be engaging in one, two, or maybe even all of these roles. It depends on the needs of the mentee and the mentors strengths. It is key to remember each mentor has different qualities and these roles only play a part in the mentor mentee relationship Other things have to be taken into consideration like the personalities of both parties. Remember, these roles are important, and you definitely want to keep them in mind, but I want to specifically touch on teaching or instruction in relation to mentoring.

In regards to teaching, a mentor needs to assist in their mentee’s goals in the classroom. A new instructor may have many questions such as, “What technological resources are available to support instruction and how can professors access them?” or “Who evaluates faculty members and when does this occur?” Other than answering important questions, a mentor can aid in planning classes and sitting in on their mentee’s class. Feedback should be formative, offering constructive feedback and helpful tips. A mentor can also give materials and strategies related to effective teaching (Gaskin, L. P., Lumpkin, A., & Tennant, L. K., 2003, p. 50).

Of course, there is much more that can be covered about mentoring, and you may have some questions specific to a number of different topics. A great resource to utilize in your mentor-mentee relationship is Ball State’s “New Faculty Mentoring Guide.” Also, do not forget to direct your new colleagues to the Center for Teaching and Learning! There are many resources available here. We do training and support of academic technologies to pedagogy among many other things as well.


  1. Ball State University. (n.d.).  New Faculty Mentoring Guide. Retrieved from http://cms.bsu.edu/about/administrativeoffices/educationalexcellence/resources/facultymentors
  2. Gaskin, L. P., Lumpkin, A., & Tennant, L. K. (2003). Mentoring new faculty in higher education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 74(8), 49-53.
  3. Sands, R., Parson, L., & Duane, J. (1991). Faculty mentoring faculty in a public university. The Journal of Higher Education, 62(2), 174-193.

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