Mentoring and Community Building

Why is STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) mentoring important?

The following videos were produced for the Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence and the National Science Foundation and are hosted by Indiana University.

What does STEM mentoring look like at Grinnell?

It turns out it looks like a web. As Swartz says in the video linked above, "Mentoring has run in multiple different directions ... building those relationships and trust among all of us - the students, the faculty, the administration - in a supportive way."  

Web of mentoring visualization of science resources

A primary tool for accomplishing the goals of the program was weaving a “web of mentoring,” not only close mentoring of students by their teachers, but also student to student and faculty to faculty (who support one another as they try pedagogical experiments). Curricular and pedagogical changes are both substantial and nearly universal. The GSP was also greatly influential in the design of new science facilities at Grinnell College. While the initial impetuous for the effort came from some key individuals, the execution and continuous improvement lies within virtually all science faculty as well as student life professionals. This high level of involvement, including curricular development, community building activities, and mentoring, insures sustainability. We have also established a Science Learning Center which, along with the Math Lab, trains peer mentors to support and assist students.

The web of mentoring is visualized as a net of resources supporting GSP students. The GSP student is at the center, with the threads of the web made up of the pre-orientation leaders who are from student affairs, the faculty, and advanced students; the science learning center and math lab, with their directors, mentors, and tutors; and curricular factors such as faculty interaction, small group work, and collaborative research.

Sources & Publications

Gregg-Jolly, L., Swartz, J., Iverson, E., Stern, J., Brown, N., Lopatto, D. (2016)  Situating Second-Year Success: Understanding Second-Year STEM Experiences at a Liberal Arts College. Special Issue "Broadening Participation in the Life Sciences", CBE Life Sci Educ 15(3) ar43. doi: 10.1187/cbe.16-01-0044

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