Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Commitment follow-up

While I do appreciate everyone's encouragement with regard to moving forward with mentoring UgS, I think the real point of my post (and what I want to emphasize) was the fact that it took me so long to figure out the difference between "knowing" something and putting it into practice. I should have realized when UgS first started that I would need to take some extra time to ensure that they succeeded early and that not doing so was likely dooming UgS to fail. In fact, my knee-jerk reaction when UgS did not flourish after being tossed into the mix was that they had no interest or did not get it, in the same way that someone can have really good grades and be a travesty in the lab. The reality was (I think) that this student was not going to react the same way as an undergrad student who sought out the research opportunity through more conventional means. So, despite my claim of support for the program, I wasn't actually doing it or the student their deserved justice because I didn't take the time to think about the differences. I want to spell this out in case someone else finds themselves in the same position.

Does this mean that I plan to hold hands with every undergrad that comes into the lab through this program? No. But what it does mean is that I need to be in communication with these students from the very beginning, find out what their strengths and weaknesses are early and come up with a plan that allows them to succeed that takes advantages of their strengths while shoring up some of their weaknesses. As much as that sounds like a decent amount of work, I believe it can be done relatively easily with a short meeting each week. Also, the time it takes to troubleshoot things when someone in the lab has screwed something up in a big way is probably greater. This way the student does well and gains confidence while producing useful data.

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