Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: Article Series on Mentoring from Inside Higher Ed

Article Series on Mentoring from Inside Higher Ed
Kerry Ann Rockquemore


Review by Julie Timmermans, Instructional Developer, University of Waterloo

Two series of columns published in Inside Higher Ed offer thought-provoking and practical pieces on mentoring by the President of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity in the US, Kerry Ann Rockquemore.  

Series 1:  “Mentoring 101”.  This series focuses on addressing some of the common, but flawed, assumptions about mentoring.  Each column contains a set of “challenges” – questions or exercises one can do to move forward with some of the ideas from the article. The intention of the series is to provide information and strategies that will enable faculty members at any career stage to design a healthy network of mentors, so that they may thrive in their work. The series includes the following articles:

1.      Don't Talk About Mentoring
Of great value to Educational Developers in this article is Rockquemore’s reframing of the notion of mentoring.  Since the term “mentoring” means different things to different people, she suggests that, rather than focusing on “mentoring,” we focus instead on the questions “What do I need?” and  “How can I get my needs met?”.  This moves us from “a person-based to a needs based framework”.  Rockquemore generates a list of “needs” of tenure-track faculty members that may be useful as we consider the needs of novice educational developers:
  • Professional development
  • Access to opportunities and networks
  • Emotional support
  • A sense of community
  • Accountability
  • Institutional/political sponsorship
  • Role models
  • Safe space
2.      Sink or Swim  This article is about making explicit the often “secret knowledge” needed by faculty, so that they can thrive in their work.




Series 2: For potential mentors on mentoring New Faculty Members:

The second, more recent series by Rockquemore, “How to Mentor New Faculty” (2013) provides advice and strategies for “would-be mentors” on mentoring new faculty members (). The series features articles about beginning new mentoring relationships, adopting a “network-based” approach, versus a“guru-based” approach to mentoring, adopting a “coaching” style, versus a“guru” style, welcoming new faculty members intothe department, and lastly, a list of best practices for helping newer faculty members “thrive in academe” through “explosive productivity and personal health”.

Review: Western Guide to Mentorship in Academia

Western Guide to Mentorship in Academia
Donald G. Cartwright

Teaching Support Centre, Western University, Retrieved from http://www.uwo.ca/tsc/resources/pdf/PG_2_mentoring.pdf

Review by Julie Timmermans, Instructional Developer, University of Waterloo

This purple guide explores various models of mentoring in academia, the expectations and responsibilities of mentors and mentees, and the advantages for new faculty, senior faculty, and for the institution of implementing a mentoring program.  The guide also offers valuable descriptions of faculty mentor sessions that could be implemented.  Also of great value in this guide is the list of web sites related to mentoring.

Review: The Power of Peer Mentoring: Peer Mentoring Resource Booklet

The Power of Peer Mentoring: Peer Mentoring Resource Booklet
Glenn Omatsu

Retrieved from http://www.csun.edu/eop/htdocs/peermentoring.pdf  

Review by Emma Bourassa, Currently on secondment to VCC Experiential Learning Materials Developer and Field Test Instructor ESL Pathways Research Project, Thompson Rivers University

The resource I came across is from California State University Northridge and is titled The Power of Peer Mentoring: Peer Mentoring Resource Booklet.

This 21 page booklet begins with the definition: "A mentor is defined as a knowledgeable and experienced guide, a trusted ally and advocate and a caring role model." (p. 2). In addition to the definition, the author, Professor Glenn Omatsu, hones in on what an effective mentor is. The themes of being " respectful, reliable, patient, trustworthy and a very good listener and communicator" continue in each section of the booklet. The notion of mentoring as a kind of consciousness is the central idea that is reiterated in the various sections. For instance, in the section "You're Serving as a Peer Mentor When....You help [others] achieve the potential within themselves that is hidden to others- and perhaps even to the [others] themselves" (p. 4). The focus is on the mentee's success. In Misconceptions, the idea of calling oneself a Peer Mentor is challenged by the reality that..."not all [who] work with [others] as advisors... are Peer Mentors, even if they have that job title" (p.6).

The resource is a practical collection of ideas of what a Peer Mentor is and is not; which could be a useful reflective tool for those considering what Mentoring would involve. There is a self- inventory on listening skills which also could be used as a reflective tool or as agreements with a Community of Mentors. A key point that resonated with me is that Mentoring is a reciprocal act and the Mentor has a great opportunity to learn as much as the Mentee. Another valuable inclusion in the booklet is the points on working with diversity and how "[y]our own willingness to interact with individuals and groups different from yourself will make a powerful statement about the value placed on diversity... contrary to popular belief, we are not 'all the same' (p.13)." The details about the consciousness of a Mentor are stated simply and the book is organized into a definition, the development of a mentor, misconceptions, objectives of mentoring, and self-exploration. There is a list of web links for further reading.  The booklet is based on previous published works and although it is the final page, refers to Paulo Freire's idea that "[t]he fundamental task of the mentor is a liberatory task. It is not to encourage the mentor's goals and aspirations and dreams to be reproduced in the mentees” (p.21).

While the booklet is written for student peers, I think there is much that can be translated to other contexts that involve understanding the challenges of being new to an institution, role or community in higher education.

Review of Websites with Links to Useful Resources

Mentoring Resource Page, Center for Teaching and Faculty Development, University of Massachusetts Amherst 
Review by Julie Timmermans, Instructional Developer, University of Waterloo
This site is a compilation of selected resources on mentoring and includes references to journal articles, books, and examples of “innovative mentoring policies and practices” at multiple American universities and colleges.

Harvard Mentoring Project

Review by Julie Timmermans, Instructional Developer, University of Waterloo

This initiative by the Harvard School of Public Health is a collection of valuable resources on mentoring.  Here, you’ll find links to books and movies on the theme of mentoring (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/wmy/pass/media.htm), and interviews with people, such as Deepak Chopra, Maya Angelou and many others about the important mentors in their lives (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/wmy/Celebrities/maya_angelou.html).  The site also emphasizes the importance of thanking those who have been mentors to us, as well as serving as a mentor to others.

Review: Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners

Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners
Laurent A. Daloz

Review by Melanie Rideout-Santarossa, Project Coordinator, Faculty & Curriculum Development Centre, OCAD University

(reprinted with Melanie’s permission from the April 2013 edition of the EDC Resource Review)

In Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners, Laurent A. Daloz reminds us of the power mentoring holds to change the teaching and learning landscape for students and instructors. Laurent proposes that in the mentor-mentee relationship, mentors assist their students along their educational journeys, but that in doing so their lives are altered as well. Laurent explains that these transformations inevitably filter into the classroom. For instance, being privy to the personal and professional objectives of the mentee, the mentor is able to envision more ways in which the course should align to the students’ world. Similarly, having placed his/her trust in the mentor, the mentee revises the role of instructor from content guide or authority to advisor or friend. Looking at one another in this new light obviously alters the exchanges that will occur in the classroom, and arise in assignments. Having occupied the role of mentor for many years, Laurent eloquently communicates the influence this relationship has on an instructor’s process of development, and it is these anecdotal accounts that may sway readers to open themselves to the possibility of mentoring their students. However, in reviewing this book as a “how-to”guide for teachers who may find themselves in a mentoring role, two shortcomings must be noted. First, Laurent makes the assumption that his readers are seasoned educators. For those of us coming to this resource as novice instructors who might find themselves in a mentoring role, it is difficult to parcel out concrete advice or explicit questioning techniques. Moreover, while Laurent does a good job of emphasizing how effective storytelling is to the mentorship process, the anecdotes contained within reflect ideal mentoring relationships, which do not help new instructors understand how to deal with mentoring situations that are difficult, awkward, or emotionally jarring.

Review: Mutual Mentoring Guide

Mutual Mentoring Guide

Mary Deane Sorcinelli and Jung H. Yun

Retrieved from the Mentoring Resources page of the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, http://www.umass.edu/ctfd/mentoring/resources.shtml

Review by Julie Timmermans, Instructional Developer, University of Waterloo

Mary Deane Sorcinelli has made significant contributions to the literature on mentoring.  In this very practical guide, “Mutual Mentoring” is presented as an alternative to traditional one-on-one mentoring models.  The Mutual Mentoring model draws on research on professional development that advocates for “flexible approaches to mentoring,” in which people work with “networks” or “constellations” of mentors (p. 3).  Guidance in the following areas is provided:
  • Roles and characteristics of mentors and mentees
  • Suggested questions mentees may ask their mentoring partners in the areas of teaching, research, and service
  • Activities mentors may do with mentees
  • Suggestions for departmental leaders related to establishing a culture of mentoring and mentoring programs

Review: Enhancing Mentoring Across the Disciplines: Via the Adaptive Mentorship© Model

Enhancing Mentoring Across the Disciplines: Via the Adaptive Mentorship© Model

Edwin G. Ralph & Keith D. Walker, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan

Bridges Newsletter, University of Saskatchewan, Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness
May 2012, Volume 10, No 3; Retrieved from the Bridges archive: http://www.usask.ca/gmcte/bridges/archive       

Review by Julie Timmermans, Instructional Developer, University of Waterloo

Based on research conducted over the past two decades by the authors, this article provides a framework for conceptualizing the mentoring relationship and activities. 

The authors describe Adaptive Mentorship© as a model “that guides mentors in adjusting their mentoring responses to appropriately match the task-specific development level of protégés whom they are assisting in the learning/working situation” (p. 9).  So, on a specific task, a mentor would adapt his/her response on two levels: the level of psycho-emotional support provided, and the level of technical direction provided to meet the needs of the protégé according to the protégé’s levels of confidence and competence on that task.  For example, when working with a protégé with a high level of confidence, but a low level of technical skill for a certain task, a mentor would provide a low level of psycho-emotional support, but a high level of technical support.
 
The model situates the mentoring relationship within the multiple contexts within which such relationships take place.  Steps for implementing the model, which include “determining the protégé’s development,” “synchronizing the mentor’s response,” and “monitoring the protégé’s development” are explained, and a useful visual of the model helps readers conceptualize the theory.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: Idea-based Learning: A Course Design Process to Promote Conceptual Understanding


Hansen, E.J. (2011). Idea-based Learning: A Course Design Process to Promote Conceptual Understanding. Stylus Publishing.

Reviewed by: Alice Cassidy,
                       In View Education and Professional Development



This book is of equal value to someone brand new to teaching and designing a course for the first time as it is to someone who has been teaching for many years and is looking for some new ideas to “tweak” an assignment or class activity just a bit.

Glance at the 10 chapter titles in the Table of Contents and you will find that each one is subdivided into small well-described chunks (much like good course design!) In fact, I found the sub-titles so interesting that first I started picking and choosing various places in the book to read based on that alone. It is also a book that you can ‘browse’ through, coming across specific course and discipline examples, as well as clearly laid-out charts and figures that you can easily apply to your own context.

So what is idea-based learning?  Think about a course you currently teach, or are planning.  Whatever the discipline, sub-specialty, class size or level, ask yourself, “What are the big ideas in the topic of my course?” Hansen helps you to think about this:  it could be a major theory or a core concept, but it also could be a core skill, value or attitude. It is something essential to the discipline and in your course. Once you have come up with one or more big ideas, Hansen guides you through what he and others call ‘backward design’ but what I call plain old good course planning (!). You will identify learning outcomes based on the big ideas and associated “enduring understandings” and “essential questions” – the latter may help you think about a big idea for your course – what is a question with which you hope to engage students?  You will also consider student background, assessment tasks, class activities and in doing so, will create rubrics and practice opportunities, and consider sequencing and packaging.

Not only does Hansen explain each step of the way in very clear language with lots of examples to draw from, but also he adeptly explains why you would want to do these things through reference to the literature to show us the theory behind it and/or efficacy based on empirical evidence.

From my reading of this valuable book, the “big ideas” are that it is most definitely not content-based learning, and it emphasizes the big picture to help students keep focus. An “endured understanding” is that conceptual understanding and deep learning is a result of the technique. An “essential question” is:  How can I have students “do the subject” and explore the issues of the course, which brings us back to the big ideas in Idea-based Learning.

I have incorporated some of Hansen’s ideas into online seminars I have led for Magna, on motivating students and on alternatives to lecturing. Might some of Hansen’s ideas and examples help you to enhance your course and your teaching practice? I am sure they will.

Review: Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners



Daloz, L.A (2012). Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners. Jossey-Bass.

Reviewed by: Melanie  Rideout-Santarossa,
                       Project Coordinator, Faculty & Curriculum Development Centre,
                       OCAD University


In Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners, Laurent A. Daloz reminds us of the power mentoring holds to change the teaching and learning landscape for students and instructors. Laurent proposes that in the mentor-mentee relationship, mentors assist their students along their educational journeys, but that in doing so their lives are altered as well. Laurent explains that these transformations inevitably filter into the classroom. For instance, being privy to the personal and professional objectives of the mentee, the mentor is able to envision more ways in which the course should align to the students’ world. Similarly, having placed his/her trust in the mentor, the mentee revises the role of instructor from content guide or authority to advisor or friend. Looking at one another in this new light obviously alters the exchanges that will occur in the classroom, and arise in assignments. Having occupied the role of mentor for many years, Laurent eloquently communicates the influence this relationship has on an instructor’s process of development, and it is these anecdotal accounts that may sway readers to open themselves to the possibility of mentoring their students. However, in reviewing this book as a “how-to” guide for teachers who may find themselves in a mentoring role, two shortcomings must be noted. First, Laurent makes the assumption that his readers are seasoned educators. For those of us coming to this resource as novice instructors who might find themselves in a mentoring role, it is difficult to parcel out concrete advice or explicit questioning techniques. Moreover, while Laurent does a good job of emphasizing how effective storytelling is to the mentorship process, the anecdotes contained within reflect ideal mentoring relationships, which do not help new instructors understand how to deal with mentoring situations that are difficult, awkward, or emotionally jarring.  

Review: Understanding Undergraduates: Challenging our Preconceptions of Student Success




Popovic, C., and Green D.A. (2012). Understanding Undergraduates: Challenging our Preconceptions of Student Success. Routledge Publishing.

Reviewed by: Shannon Murray,
                       Professor and 3M Teaching Fellow,
                       University of Prince Edward Island


Understanding Undergraduates adds to the literature on “millennial” students by examining assumptions: assumptions that university teachers make about successful students and that students make about themselves.   Popovic and Green survey thirty-eight university professors in four universities – two in the US and two in the UK--, and they survey 1241 students in first-year classes.  They compare those assumptions with the findings of appropriate research, determining which are upheld by the research and which aren’t.  The most useful thing about the book is the practical suggestions they offer for dealing with those assumptions, either correct or not. 

They find that both UK and US professors, for example, believe that successful students expect to develop new study skills, are punctual for lectures, keep up with assigned reading, and prefer to sit at the front of class (50) – and the research supports those assumptions.  They also, however, assume that successful students perform volunteer work, belong to a particular gender or ethnic group, talk to their teachers and ask questions, and form their own study groups, assumptions that the research suggests are false.  Some assumptions are particular to the US context – the unsupported beliefs that good students use writing centres or are unmarried, for example – and some to the UK context – that successful students attend full time or feel they belong at university. 

As I read, I found myself less surprised by the results of the research and more by the sometimes shocking assumptions that professors admitted to having.  Also surprising is the general conclusion that Popovic and Green come to about student assumptions; in their surveys, students suggested that they already have a pretty sound idea of what behaviours and attitudes make for a truly successful undergraduate experience, but there is a disconnect between understanding what works and altering behaviour to meet that understanding.  For professors, then, the book insists that we first acknowledge our assumptions and then test them against the evidence before we bring them into the classroom.  When helping our students become more successful, we need to spend less time on telling them what makes a successful student – they already know – and more on helping them alter habits to make use of that knowledge.

The intended audience for Understanding Undergraduates is explicitly university teachers, though there are some suggestion near the end for what one can do to curb stereotyping at various levels in the university.  Moreover, Popovic and Green are careful to locate their study in two specific contexts, the US and the UK, and even in those two, there are differences.   A Canadian audience, then, may find the specific findings less applicable than the general and surely sensible general conclusion: that trying to understand undergraduates based on hasty generalizations and anecdotal evidence is more likely to do harm than good.