January 14, 2015

#NationalMentoringMonth – a celebration for students and faculty

Posted by Laura Guertin

This is just a quick post to call attention to a very important practice we each engage in throughout the academic year (and for most of us, even during the summers through field camp and undergraduate research programs).  Each year, January is designated National Mentoring Month. From the campaign’s website:


Created in 2002 by the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, National Mentoring Month focuses national attention on the need for mentors, as well as how each of us—individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits—can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure positive outcomes for our young people.


Although the focus of this campaign is for adults to mentor youth, let’s not forget the importance and impact of students mentoring students (see my blog post from the AGU Fall Meeting for an example) and faculty mentoring faculty. I have included some references below to articles covering a range of mentoring practices and settings, and this tweet below contains an interesting idea of expanding our own mentor networks beyond colleagues in the Earth sciences. 

I cannot agree more with the idea of having mentors outside of one’s own discipline.  In my situation, I did not have a choice – at my campus, I am the only geologist.  I was assigned a faculty mentor when I first started at Penn State Brandywine who taught psychology and kinesology courses.  We had frequent breakfast meetings together, and she was an enormous help to me in figuring out the campus dynamics, culture, practices, events to make sure I attended, navigating the tenure process, etc., etc.  I wouldn’t be the faculty member (and now mentor) I am today without her, or any of the other mentors outside of my campus that have guided me through my professional and personal life.

So this January, reflect upon the amazing mentors in your life, take the time to thank your mentors, and embrace the opportunity to be a mentor and to make a difference for someone!



Additional sources for exploration

National Institute for Faculty Equity – Making Use of Mentors (online at SERC)

Tomorrow’s Professor Mailing List – Tomorrow’s Professor Msg.#1200 What Mentors Do

Gafney, L. (2005). The Role of the Research Mentor/Teacher: Student and Faculty Views. Journal of College Science Teaching, 34(4): 52-56.

Houser, C., K. Lemmons, & A. Cahill. (2013). Role of the Faculty Mentor in an Undergraduate Research Experience. Journal of Geoscience Education, 61(3): 297-305. (PDF online)

Lee, N.E. (1999). A Mentoring Program with Hands-on Laboratory Experiments: Bridging the Needs of Elementary School Students and Women Undergraduates in a Science Community Program. Journal of College Science Teaching, 29(1): 47-49.

Sands, R. G., L.A. Parson, & J. Duane. (1991). Faculty Mentoring Faculty in a Public University. The Journal of Higher Education, 62(2): 174-193. (Preview online, PDF online)

Schuster, D. (2010). GPS: Geoscience Partnership Study. Journal of Geoscience Education, 58(4): 232-240. (PDF online)

Shellito, C., K. Shea, G. Weissmann, A. Mueller-Solger, & W. Davis. (2001). Successful Mentoring of Undergraduate Researchers. Journal of College Science Teaching, 30(7): 460-464.