The Transition from a Research I Institution to a Non-elite Teaching School

Friday, January 7, 2011: 9:50 AM
Room 101 (Hynes Convention Center)
Laurie A. Hochstetler , Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA
Hochstetler will discuss the shift in mentoring that takes place when most of us receive our first jobs.  Most graduate students come from research-oriented institutions to institutions that focus predominately on undergraduate teaching.   While some of these schools may be elite liberal arts institutions that offer small classes and one-on-one attention with ambitious undergraduates, the majority of these schools are not.  Many of us will teach at state schools with challenging loads and students with varied preparations and ambitions.
My paper will discuss the unique mentoring opportunities that such jobs present.  Many of the students at such institutions have a records of high achievement, but they often lack the confidence and ambition of students at research one institutions.  A number of students are first generation college students; most have significant academic weaknesses.  They are thrust into large classes, especially in their first and second years and may not be savvy enough to search out potential mentors.  These students require a pro-active approach on the part of faculty.

In such institutions mentoring is multi-faceted.  Sometimes it consists of simply helping a student get through the university but more often it means working with a student to identify strengths and weaknesses and build confidence.  It also requires faculty to make themselves aware of opportunities for further advancement, and to seek out students who may qualify.  My presentation will be a discussion of how we can become mentors under less than optimal conditions (that is, if we understand mentoring as an intense one on one relationship) but conditions under which most American college students learn.