Greer (2010) explained how faculty mentors must evince flexibility by being generous, accommodating, available, and fully present to learners. Enacting the mentoring she describes,
Greer shared this account of working with one of her adult students:
We arranged to meet as they deemed necessary, often in the late afternoon or early evening to accommodate their work schedules and family needs. Email also served as a conduit for asking or answering questions, recommending readings, and circulating drafts with responses. Such scheduling flexibility can be tremendously important in ensuring that adult learners can successfully move toward their degrees (p. 37).
2 David Elder and Joonna Smitherman Trapp
(2010) offered a thoughtful discussion of faith
in relation to holistic learning. They argued that education
should include and welcome students’ spirituality, and that “Mentoring that ‘really matters’ must be the kind of mentoring that makes these connections, and the student and the mentor are ultimately changed: the beliefs and purposes of lives forever altered” (p. 10).
3 Reflecting on her own experiences as an undergraduate researcher, Marta Figlerowicz
(2010) described the complexities of pursuing a writing project through the intricacies of publication: “Undergraduates—myself included—frequently do not realize how difficult it can be for even a university faculty member to publish work.” Figlerowicz added: “To properly interpret the transition to professional publication, and to benefit from its successive stages, an undergraduate must learn a vital skill: how to cope with the rejection letters she is bound to receive” (p. 117).
4 Figlerowicz stated that a mentor’s advice can be vital when reviewers offer writers serious and/or contradictory criticism. She noted: “Thanks to my faculty mentor’s frank assessment of what to expect, I learned relatively quickly how best to profit from my reviewers’ comments and how to prevent myself from being easily discouraged.” She added that “Moreover, when I received varied and contradictory opinions from different reviewers commenting on the same paper, I realized I needed to develop a more independent judgment of my work” (p. 117).
5 This sentiment correlates with
Greer's idea that “[f]or many undergraduate researchers, this disciplinary initiation offered by faculty mentors lays the groundwork for what will become lifelong career pursuits that include graduate and professional school” (pp. 41-42).
6 It is perhaps not unusual for writers to express gratitude to their mentors. Figlerowicz noted
that “On the other hand, much appreciation should be given to faculty who help students pursue these kinds of projects” (pp. 119-120). She added that “We should see behind each success an equal amount of the individual student’s motivation and the faculty mentor’s spontaneous support: an achievement of the undergraduate, but also of the department that provided a nurturing environment” (p.120).
To me, an interesting trait of scholars who evince or experience effective mentoring is their ability to move from elegiac celebration to future-oriented action. For example, Elder and Trapp suggested that mentoring (the giving of time, attention, and other intellectual resources) should be paid forward.
Elder was mentored by Trapp as an undergraduate, and each of
them will continue to mentor others:
But we suspect that such deep and abiding work together will not only multiply in continued work together, but find new forms as Joonna continues to mentor students in her care, and David, soon-to-be newly minted PhD, discovers that his interactions with students will require him to also give of himself in deep and meaningful ways (pp. 11-12).
They concluded that “If such relationships were the norm for education, the end could be quite predictable” (p. 12).