Mentoring Students in Research

Connecting with and mentoring undergraduate researchers.

Connecting with Students for Research

Students may become involved in research with Dartmouth faculty in a variety of different ways, such as:

  • Through UGAR programs
  • As paid research assistants (e.g. funded by faculty mentors from their grants)
  • For independent study credit (arranged through academic departments or programs)

Notes about UGAR programs:

  • UGAR does not match students with faculty mentors (see below)
  • UGAR programs are competitive and funding is limited, so faculty selection of a student does not guarantee acceptance into the program
  • It is the students' responsibility to check UGAR program guidelines to ensure that they are eligible to apply for specific programs

Ways of connecting with students for research:

  • Students may contact faculty directly about research opportunities
  • Faculty may contact students directly (e.g. students in their classes or emails to majors)
  • Faculty may submit project descriptions to the UGAR online project database, a tool many students use to find faculty research mentors
  • Faculty who have their own funding to pay student researchers may choose to list a position in JobNet

Interviewing Potential Student Researchers

The interview is the appropriate time to clearly state for students the basic requirements that you feel are important (e.g., needing a 4-hour block of time to set up and complete a procedure, or attending a weekly research group meeting at a set time).

It is beneficial to have students think and talk realistically about how a research experience fits in with their academic and extra-curricular commitments and to express where their priorities lie. For example, students often underestimate study time, x-hours, office hours, and athletic commitments.

If relevant, you also may want to suggest that students contact other students who have worked with you in UGAR programs to hear what the experience was like from a peer.

Mentoring Student Researchers

Undergraduates often require more supervision and mentoring in research than they think they need. Many students become quite independent over the course of a research project, but most will require close supervision at the outset. 

Students report much more positive experiences when they have regular contact with their research mentors, and setting up a regular schedule of meetings is an effective way of ensuring regular contact. It is difficult for faculty to provide this level of oversight if they are off campus during the term(s) of the research (for example, on a leave or sabbatical, or running an off-campus program). It is therefore expected that the student researcher and the faculty mentor both be on campus during the term(s) of the research unless there is a compelling reason to waive this requirement.

Articles about mentoring:

Getting Started with Student Researchers

At the start of the research project, the student and faculty research mentor should meet to address the following:

  • Research schedule: what days/hours the Scholar will commit to the project.
  • Expectations: what the faculty mentor expects the student to accomplish.
  • Meetings: how often the student and faculty mentor will meet - preferably not less than once a week. Setting up a regular time is best.
  • Troubleshooting: what the student should do if he/she has difficulty with any of the tasks. 

Resolving Difficulties

If a student working with you through a UGAR program is not meeting your expectations for quality or quantity of work, you should first discuss this directly with the student. In many cases, difficulties result from a mismatch in expectations, a misunderstanding about the level of competency a student has in a particular area, or simply miscommunication.

Often, the student and faculty mentor are able to resolve any difficulties by meeting to discuss the issues and to brainstorm solutions.

If this approach is not effective, please contact UGAR.