Mentoring: Helpful but Unrewarded

Inside Higher Ed offers Mentoring is Good Teaching in College.

Mentoring can be highly effective for students and “immensely satisfying” for professors, but the practice is ignored in graduate course work and unrewarded in a professor’s workload, a panel at the American Historical Association said here Friday.

“In some ways, mentoring is just good teaching,” said Will Benedicks, a professor of history at Tallahassee Community College. He and others on the panel described mentoring — the act of guiding and shepherding students outside class — as taking many forms. It can be informal and take place during a single visit during office hours, or it can be a more deliberate process that stretches out over years.

One of my co-panelists at MLA talked about the need to rethink faculty evaluation. Surely mentoring needs to be re-evaluated and placed in the tenure and promotion guidelines?

Unfortunately, tenure committees and administrators tend not to formally recognize the importance of providing mentoring to students, and faculty members are seldom rewarded for it — financially or otherwise — said the panelists, who represented institutions from the open-access (Tallahassee Community College) to the elite (Oberlin), public and private. This observation was consistent among both the rookie and veteran professors on the panel.

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