Mentoring Focus 4: Tiered Mentoring

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Preparing trainees for success in the biomedical sciences is a complex process that requires a variety of supportive relationships for students. As a result, many BUILD programs have developed models with multiple mentors who each serve a unique role in supporting students on their pathways. We’ve already touched on some of these mentoring interventions, but here we’ll look a bit more closely at them and how tiered mentoring can help to support a culture of inclusive mentoring.

Prompt: What role does tiered mentoring play in supporting the mission and goals of your program?

UAF BLaST: We have created a supportive tiered group mentoring approach to increase undergraduate student academic success, and engage students, especially those who are Alaska Native or from rural communities, in biomedical research. We provide a holistic approach to mentoring and offer several eight-hour trainings per academic year, monthly mentoring discussion groups for our mentors, and professional development workshops for undergraduates.


While trainings are focused on meeting the needs of our more than 100 faculty and graduate mentors, all faculty who are interested are encouraged to attend including those from our rural and partner campuses. We invite guest speakers from diverse organizations and academic fields within biomedical research, and Research Advising and Mentoring Professionals (RAMP)s facilitate undergraduate workshops. These trainings and workshops cover a variety of topics including strategies for effective mentoring, improving leadership skills, providing spaces for difficult dialogues, discussing scientific ethics, developing cultural competencies, and racial equity. Over the past four and a half years, BLaST has sponsored 28 professional development workshops which included 15 mentoring workshops.


UMBC STEM BUILD: In STEM BUILD at UMBC, we incorporate a two-prong mentoring model to support program initiatives that emphasize both scalability and sustainability. In our BUILD Training Program, multi-year interventions combine the use of faculty, staff and peer mentoring, summer bridge programming, online badging modules, and classroom-based undergraduate research experiences to introduce, promote, and expand the benefits of traditional one-on-one faculty mentoring. This program, conducted using randomized control trial methodology, has allowed evaluators and PIs to study and refine the interventions and identify ways to offer and sustain them to benefit larger populations of promising STEM majors.


Xavier: Mentoring at Xavier University of LA is included in the education, support and guidance of each student who enters the University. This focus on purposeful and intentional mentorship demonstrates Xavier’s commitment to the fulfillment of our mission to create a more just and humane society. These mentoring relationships serve to cultivate and develop students’ expertise in their field of study, and grow the leadership skills and service opportunities for each student attending Xavier. Throughout our history, Xavier has maintained a culture of nurturing mentorship that attracts faculty, staff and students to the campus and guides the collective expectations of the entire Xavier community. Mentoring at Xavier is a multi-level practice made up of faculty-student, faculty-faculty, staff-student, faculty-staff, staff-staff, and student-student paradigms. The variety and depth of mentoring relationships provided for students represents an effective structure that promotes camaraderie, collegiality, and cooperation throughout the campus community.


ReBUILDetroit: At ReBUILDetriot, Scholars have a built-in support network of peers, graduate students, and faculty from all partnering institutions in the ReBUILDetriot network. Peer mentoring begins during the Summer Enrichment Program, where all ReBUILDetroit Scholars network once a week with Scholars from other institutions. This chance to connect with and learn from peer mentors provides social and emotional support for Scholars as they transition to college. Upon completion of their freshman year, Scholars are paired with a research mentor. These faculty mentoring relationships cultivate growing academic interests for students, expand their networks, and support their career development. Scholars actively work with their research mentor in the mentor’s research lab and this exposure often leads to an increased self-efficacy and a deeper research identity for Scholars. In addition to these ongoing mentoring relationships, the ReBUILDetroit program supports students with access to an exclusive community room, coordination of cohort meetings, and Student Success Coaches and Coordinators who provide daily mentoring for Scholars.

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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