Mentoring and Advising

The role of graduate advisor and mentor is critical - not only to our students, our disciplines, and the University, but to all who stand to benefit from the contributions made by those we advise and mentor. Despite its importance, few faculty receive any formal training to meet the demands and challenges of the advising and mentoring role. The resources listed provide a brief
overview of graduate student advising and mentoring by:

  • articulating characteristics of exemplary advisors and mentors;
  • discussing challenges associated with advising and mentoring relationships;
  • suggesting “best practices” for advising and mentoring; and
  • offering the mentoring philosophies of lauded graduate advisors.

Below are some resources to help graduate advisors and mentors navigate their roles.

Online Sources

Faculty Guide to Mentoring Graduate Students

This faculty guide was created by the University of Hawaii at Manoa and discusses the importance of mentoring graduate students.  It also includes self-assessments and checklists that mentors can use.

Faculty/Staff Toolkit for Mentoring Graduate Students

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created this helpful toolkit to help faculty and staff become better mentors for graduate students. They provide resources and guides related to the topic of mentorship, such as how to set expectations or provide constructive feedback.

Great Mentoring in Graduate School: A quick start guide for protégés

Great Mentoring in Graduate School: A quick start guide for protégés by Laura Gail Lunsford and Vicki L. Baker provides a practical, student-oriented perspective informed by the authors’ experience and research on mentoring. The guide includes helpful advice and tips on a range of topics such as identifying a mentor, engaging with mentors to develop a professional identity, cultivating networks, and serving as a mentor to others.

How to Mentor Graduate Students: A Guide for Faculty

In addition to providing general suggestions for good mentoring practice, this handbook from Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan explores some of the special challenges and rewards of advising an increasingly diverse graduate student population.

Mentoring and Advising

From the Ph.D. Completion Project of the Council of Graduate Schools, this source recognizes the distinctions among mentoring and advising and serves to identify specific practices and offer step-by-step criteria for faculty to consider during their mentorships with graduate students.

Mentoring: A Guide for Faculty

For both an understanding of the mentoring role and for detailed, case-specific, step-by-step strategies, review the suggestions presented by the University of Washington Graduate School.  Strategy suggestions cover such scenarios as the mentoring of international students and students with disabilities, and the roles of age and experience, race and ethnicity, and disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds on student success.

The Mentoring of Graduate Students

This module from North Carolina State University outlines the issues that face both mentors and mentees, with emphasis on the ethical implications of the mentor-mentee relationship.

Journal Articles and Publications

Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (1997). Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a mentor to Students in Science and Engineering. National Academy Press: Washington, DC.

This booklet provides a comprehensive overview of advising and mentoring relationships between faculty and a broad range of students (i.e., undergraduate to post-doctoral). Different mentoring/advising roles are addressed along with tips for being a successful mentor. Issues related to diversity and professional ethics are also examined.

Fairbanks, A. J. (2016). Relationship factors influencing doctoral student retention and success: a study of faculty advisor and doctoral student perceptions (Doctoral dissertation, Kansas State University).

In this dissertation, Fairbanks explains important faculty advisor-doctoral student relational factors that influence student retention and success.

Fedynich, L. & Bain, S. F. (2011). Mentoring the successful graduate student of tomorrow. Research in Higher Education Journal, 12.

Fedynich and Bain review the changing graduate student population, develop an awareness of the significant impact of faculty mentorship, and offer practical implications for the improvement in quality of faculty mentorship.

Fine, M.A. and L.A. Kurdek (1993). Reflections on Determining Authorship Credit and Authorship Order on Faculty-Student Collaborations. American Psychologist, 48 (11), 1141-1147.

Fine and Kurdek use a series of case studies to raise issues related to authorship decisions and suggest guidelines for discussing and determining authorship. The authors explore the problems associated with faculty who assign too little – or too much – credit to student contributions. Although the cases involve Psychology faculty and students, the issues and the advice cross disciplinary boundaries.

Lechuga, V. M. (2011). Faculty-graduate student mentoring relationships: Mentors’ perceived roles and responsibilities. Higher Education, 62(6), 757-771.

Lechuga interviewed 15 underrepresented faculty members about their mentorship role with their graduate students and discusses the perceived role of faculty members as agents of socialization that introduce graduate students to the professional field.

Mansson, D. H., & Myers, S. A. (2012). Using mentoring enactment theory to explore the doctoral student–advisor mentoring relationship. Communication Education, 61(4), 309-334.

Mansson and Myers examine relational maintenance behaviors in doctoral advisor-advisee relationships such as appreciation, tasks, protection, courtesy, humor, and goals.

Wrench, J. S., & Punyanunt, N. M. (2004). Advisee‐advisor communication: An exploratory study examining interpersonal communication variables in the graduate advisee‐advisor relationship. Communication Quarterly, 52(3), 224-236.

This study examined how graduate students perceive their advisors’ communication and whether these perceptions influence the effectiveness of the advising relationship.