Congratulations to the 2016 Oscar Mentoring Excellence Award Recipients!
There was an amazing pool of nominees for the OSCAR Mentoring Excellence Award, but these faculty emerged based on their excellence in mentoring undergraduate students on their research and creative projects, and by fostering a culture of student scholarship at Mason!
What I have learned from my mentoring experience is that patience, flexibility, preparation, and communication are imperative to being a successful mentor. I want my students to be empowered and transformed through my mentoring on their research and scholarship activities, so that they can develop not only much-needed skill sets, but also gain an ability and insight to integrate the things that they have learned to be able to understand the larger context of learning. I make sure they are heard, seen, and appreciated for their inquiries, actions, and progresses during the project, which I have observed truly motivate and empower them to move on to the next step, leading a necessary progress in their learning.
As a developmental psychologist and because of my experiences with students at different points in their college careers, I take a developmental approach to mentoring students. One element that distinguishes my research is the high level of involvement and productivity of the undergraduate students working with me. Together, my students and I conduct research on the social emotional development of young children and we work together to identify and examine cultural and family factors that may be involved in young children's competence in this area. Though I am certain the students have benefitted greatly from their work with me, I have also grown exponentially from my work with them.
It can be too easy for faculty members to forget what it is truly like to be new to a field - the necessity of making mistakes while learning, the need to be forgiven with patience, and the importance of building confidence. The uncertainty involved in learning translates into the fact that students need a good deal of guidance, patience, and even structure in order to thrive. Never is this more apparent then with the students who embark on the risky (yet exciting) venture of participating in original research. College of Humanities & Social Sciences
My own teaching and mentoring values center on helping undergraduate students understand music's crucial role in constructing concepts like race, nation, and tradition; getting them to see that these categories of differentiation are reflections of social relationships rather than elements of a "natural" order; and helping them develop an orientation toward research and critical thought that empowers them to move beyond unquestioning acceptance of handed-down assumptions and toward thoughtful living and listening.