Skip to content

Guiding Graduate Students: Maximizing Mentorship through Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness


Jennifer Putnam, Ed.D, and Sydney Brown, Ph.D., Gardner-Webb University

Graduate faculty mentors are critical in supporting graduate students. To foster growth, motivation, and positive well-being, mentors support students in navigating challenges such as coping with feelings of incompetence, maintaining persistence, setting appropriate goals, and achieving quality performance.

This presentation will center on using Edward Deci and Richard Ryan’s self-determination theory (SDT) as a strategy to support mentors working with graduate students (2019). Applying this theory can help create more motivated, engaged, and committed graduate students who are better equipped to achieve their academic and professional goals.

Please note that this session is offered in a virtual format only. Registration is required.

Jennifer Putnam headshot

Jennifer Putnam, Ed.D, is associate dean of the College of Education at Gardner-Webb University and coordinator of the doctoral program in curriculum and instruction. She has served in these roles since 2018. She received her B.S. and M.A. in Elementary Education from Appalachian State and her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Gardner-Webb. Her research involves motivation, teacher leadership, and facilitating positive, sustainable change.



Sydney Brown headshot

Sydney Brown, Ph.D., is dean of the Gayle Bolt Price School of Graduate Studies and a professor in the College of Education at Gardner-Webb University. She is a triple-heel UNC-Chapel Hill alumna with a B.A. in Education, M.Ed. in Literacy Studies, and Ph.D. in Culture, Curriculum, and Change. Her research involves strengths-based leadership and supporting doctoral students through the dissertation process. She has served as dean since 2018.