The President's STEM Mentoring Academy is designed to give faculty members at Texas Tech the resources to mentor students in STEM research effectively.
In 2017 funding from a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant helped create the Bridges Across Texas – Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (BAT-LSAMP) program.
Focused on fostering achievement in minority students seeking degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the program built a partnership among Texas Tech University, The University of North Texas at Dallas, Dallas College - El Centro Campus, South Plains College and Texas Southmost College that is still going strong.
Now, backed by the Office of the President, Texas Tech is building on that program by offering new resources and training to the faculty members involved with the creation of the President's STEM Mentoring Academy.
“Just like the BAT-LSAMP program, we want to create something that outlives the life of the grant,” said Nancy McIntyre, a professor and curator of birds in the Department of Biological Sciences and director of the President's STEM Mentoring Academy. “We want to start a culture of recognizing and supporting faculty in their mentoring of undergraduates in research.
“That's a proven winner. Getting undergraduates involved in research has been shown to positively affect their retention. We want to help our faculty be successful because their success translates to student success.”
By focusing on faculty, the President's STEM Mentoring Academy broadens the approach taken by the BAT-LSAMP, giving recognition to the educators involved in the program and offering them resources and support to continue growing minority representation in STEM fields.
“Yes, we're an institution of higher education and of course, we want students to succeed, but that doesn't happen without faculty,” McIntyre said. “This is a way of formally recognizing that and providing faculty with resources to help them be the best mentor that they can be.”
Aside from formal recognition, the mentoring academy will host four evening training sessions over the next academic year, with two in the fall and two in the spring. These sessions will offer workshops, collaborative brainstorming and formal training designed to create better mentors.
“We want to teach people how to be good mentors,” said Raegan Higgins, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics and lead principal investigator for BAT-LSAMP. “The training and expertise of faculty are often in their subject matter, not in effective mentoring.
“We want to develop mentoring skills. For example, do you have the interpersonal skills to connect with students? Can you relate to them? How do you convey the expectations of student researchers in your lab or group? We want to help develop those skills and others, so the faculty and students are all getting the best experience possible.”
The training sessions will be held from 2-5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3; Monday, Nov. 7; Monday, Feb. 6; and Monday, March 6.