Monday, March 22, 2021

Crosspost: Inclusive Mentoring: The Mindset of an Effective Mentor

By Chandralekha Singh

Mentoring is the process of forming, cultivating, and maintaining relationships that support and advance mentees in their pursuits [1-2]. As physicists, we mentor undergraduate and graduate students in diverse settings: when we teach them in various courses, when we advise students in their research, or when we counsel them about academic and non-academic issues. For example, we give advice on what courses to take, whom to do research with, how to live a balanced life while managing academic and non-academic responsibilities, and how to apply for financial support, scholarships, and jobs.

While effective mentoring can improve the outcome for all students in research and education, appropriate mentoring of students plays a critical role in ensuring that students from underrepresented groups (e.g., women and racial and ethnic minority students) thrive since physics is one of the least diverse STEM disciplines with stereotypes related to who can excel in it [3-11].

Research suggests that there is no single mentoring style that impacts effectiveness [2]. However, there are several aspects critical to successful mentoring: showing genuine concern for the mentee; boosting their sense-of-belonging and self-efficacy [4-6]; inculcating a growth mindset (intelligence is not immutable since your brain is like a muscle and can grow with hard work) [7,11]; supporting students in learning to use effective strategies for growth that build on their current knowledge meaningfully; encouraging them to take advantage of their peers and mentors; and helping them embrace their struggles as stepping stones to learning. It is important for mentors to convey to students that they have high expectations of them, they know that they have what it takes to excel if they work hard and work smart (which entails using effective approaches) and they are there to support them as needed.


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