GSA 2013 Abstract & Poster - How New Technologies Advance Mentoring Practices with Non-Residential Undergraduate Researchers Public

In the past, a stereotypical view of an undergraduate researcher would be a student living on campus who could swing by a research lab and faculty member’s office for scheduled and/or drop-in meetings. Mentoring would take place face-to-face, perhaps with follow-up email reports. However, more and more campuses are seeing an increase in the non-traditional student, adults that live off campus with additional competing pressures that minimize their time on campus. Community colleges that typically do not have residential housing are increasing the opportunities for students in the first two years to engage in inquiry-based classroom, laboratory and field experiences. In addition, there are four-year institutions that also do not provide on-campus housing options for students. New technologies that are freely accessible assist faculty in connecting with undergraduate researchers on a regular basis when face-to-face meetings are not possible. Instead of passing back-and-forth a composition notebook that records data and observations, a research log can be created in Google Docs and shared between the mentor and student, so that both have unlimited and easy access to notes and can provide electronic, asynchronous comments and feedback. Synchronous discussions have moved beyond phone calls and can now be conducted with Skype or a Google Hangout, the latter providing the ability to edit a Google Doc the same time the Hangout is taking place. The faculty mentor and student researcher can create, share access, and add updates to their research timeline with a Google Calendar, and/or utilize social bookmarking sites, such as Diigo, and online bibliographic programs, such as Zotero (for additional examples, see SERC’s On the Cutting Edge Undergraduate Research as a Teaching Practice website for Social Media in Undergraduate Research:  http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/undergraduate_research/social_media.html). Many of these tools and practices can be helpful for mentoring residential students, but with the limited time non-residential students spend on campus, complicated by demands from family and employment outside of school, new online tools have allowed commuting students to have successful and rewarding undergraduate research experiences with effective mentoring.

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