2008 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., May 6, 2008
HUB Ballroom

Session Description



Graduate-Undergraduate Research Mentoring: A Narrative Reflection on Expectations and Motivations

Jerusha Achterberg - Biocultural Anthropology

Graduate work at a major research university is designed to train the student to be an active researcher and contributor in his/her chosen discipline. It is not necessarily designed to train future teachers, and still more rarely, future research or academic mentors. Indeed, the system often prevents graduate students from exploring educational roles beyond the traditional teaching assistant—to do so, the graduate student may have to make difficult compromises in his/her employment or research work.

What then are the advantages in taking the road less traveled as a graduate student? How can a graduate student balance the challenges and rewards of mentoring undergraduates in a more holistic way than teaching assistantships allow?

In this poster, I reflect on my own experiences as a graduate student attempting to be both a scholar and an educator. While performing traditional roles from teaching assistant to instructor, there are ways to carve out space to more fully explore the scholarship of teaching and learning with undergraduates. Non-traditional paths, including course design and independent research, also offer avenues for professional and personal development, but have greater associated challenges. Understanding the positive aspects of a deeper immersion in holistic education, including teaching and research mentoring, can actually aid graduate student training. By skillfully negotiating expectations of traditional graduate training, a dedication to undergraduate mentoring can be used to facilitate graduate student goals as well as long term professional aims. Using an anthropological approach, I explore these themes in my own graduate experience, and reflect on the intrinsic relationship between graduate student research and undergraduate mentoring.




Index of Symposium Presenters