In 2003, the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching at the University of Wisconsin—Madison launched an effort through the support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to train future biology faculty to become more effective research mentors. Over the next three years, cohorts of biology graduate students, post-docs and faculty met to discuss mentoring challenges and solutions, generating case studies and discussion questions along the way. Following evaluation and revision, these discussion materials were used to create the research mentor training seminar known as the Wisconsin Mentoring Seminar.
In 2005, the manual, Entering Mentoring was published to help others lead research mentor training seminars and workshops for mentors on their own campuses. The original research mentor training seminar was targeted towards graduate students and post doctoral researchers who typically serve as the direct research mentors for undergraduates at research extensive institutions like the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Most of the mentors in the training are mentoring a full-time undergraduate researcher in the summer or a part-time undergraduate research during the academic year.
The Adaptations for STEM Disciplines
In October 2007, a project supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) initiated the adaptation and enhancement of the research mentor training materials for use across STEM disciplines. Through a collaborative effort, a multidisciplinary team of faculty and staff from 7 disciplines (biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy, psychology, and engineering) developed a revised, discipline-specific set of research mentor training materials. In addition to the discipline-specific adaptations, the team recognized that issues of diversity need to be addressed by and integrated throughout the training program to develop cultural competency in the mentors, and to help them develop it in their mentees. The adapted materials were tested over three years through the Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning, the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) and the Institute for Biology Education. A combination of qualitative and quantitative data data indicate that compared to untrained mentors, the mentors who participated in the seminar assessed the skills of their mentees and communicated with them more effectively about their proficiency. Moreover, undergraduate researchers who compared experiences with trained and untrained mentors indicated that they had a better experience with the trained mentors.
The research mentor training efforts of the Delta Program continue to evolve. All of the research mentor training materials and resources on this website can be downloaded as complete seminar curricula, complete workshops or individual components and documents