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Mentors As Tutors

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Irene Liu, Ph.D. '14, Biology, 2014 mentoring award recipient.

Time and time again, students report that specific, constructive, timely, and reliable feedback is one of the most important things a mentor can provide. Open and regular communication between mentor and mentee can truly make the difference between students feeling supported, encouraged, and capable instead of anxious, uncertain, and apprehensive. Duke faculty act as tutors to their graduate students by providing feedback on written work, experiments, research and grant proposals, general career questions, job application materials and more.

 

Student Perspectives

“From my very first homework to the most recent public presentation, he has closely monitored and dissected every word I write and say. His sense of what I do best and what I really should work on is remarkable: I notice my presentation style improve with every recommendation that he has given me. ... The same goes for my technical writing skills. Not only has he provided detailed feedback on every paper I have written, but he has figured out entire patterns of my writing which I did not recognize before.”  

“Her rigorous feedback on my written work—whether seminar papers or dissertation chapters—has suggested themes to develop further, ideas to specify, and other texts to consider; each point is measured and specifically articulated to promote my thought processes, not to inject hers into my work. As a result, I am gaining a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses as a scholar.”  

"He is the type of professor who tells you what you need to hear even though that may sometimes not be what you want to hear; this quality was very valuable to me both in terms of helping me to improve my dissertation and preparing me for job interviews."

“Open lines of communication are clearly important to him, as each member of the lab has a weekly 1-on-1 appointment with him to discuss his or her weekly progress and we all meet weekly as a lab to discuss progress and current literature. ... He recognizes that being open to change is crucial to scientific success both in and out of the lab. He is open to feedback and criticism of his approach constantly and is quick to accept improvements in lab protocols as well as his mentoring style.”

"One frequently sends her work in the evening only to discover her assiduous notes and corrections waiting in your inbox the next morning. ... She is a constant, reliable source of forthright and constructive criticism.”

— Compiled from nomination letters for winners of the Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring