Understanding Mentorship in the Faculty of Heath Sciences: An In-depth Look at the Mentorship Experience of Mentors and Mentees

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipientDenise Zabkiewicz, Faculty of Health Sciences

Project team: Mary Catherine Breadner, research assistant, and Kitty Corbett, Faculty of Health Sciences

Timeframe: September 2015 to January 2017

Funding: $5,000

Area addressed: whole of Faculty of Health Sciences

Final report: View Denise Zabkiewicz's final report (PDF)

Description: The Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) was established in 2005. Since then, faculty and students have worked to build community through several academic and non-academic events. Opportunities for students to meet mentors and be mentored can be from the academic realm, such as senior supervisors and committee members. However, it may also come from professional opportunities in the community work they engage with, or in the teaching opportunities through teaching assistantships. Mentors can come from multiple avenues and, depending on the needs or goals of the student, mentors can have differing influences.

This project seeks to better understand the mentorship experience of both FHS faculty and students whom are currently involved in the MSc/PhD programs. Because FHS is an interdisciplinary faculty, students are often attracted to the programs in order to have access to faculty from a variety of academic disciplines. Further, some students find mentorship outside of the traditional senior supervisor role. Given the importance of mentorship for the acculturation of students both professionally and academically, the relative newness of FHS, and its interdisciplinary nature as well as a commitment to developing and maintaining a positive and supportive environment for FHS graduate students, this study seeks to examine: (1) how mentorship relationships are established, and (2) what the experience is within these relationships. We will also investigate (3) how mentorship enhances the learning experience for students. In conducting this project, we will seek the perspectives of both faculty and students.

Questions addressed:

  • What are the broad ranges of experiences with mentorship among FHS MSc/PhD students and faculty?
  • Does the Faculty of Health Sciences formally support mentorship? What materials, programs, services are in place to support/encourage mentoring of MSc/PhD students by the faculty?
  • What does mentorship mean to students?  What are the benefits/challenges of having a mentor?
  • How do faculty members perceive their role and responsibilities as mentors?  How has student mentorship influenced their experience as a faculty member?
  • How can FHS improve and best support the mentoring experience for MSc and PhD students and faculty members?

Knowledge sharing: This study aims to develop a final report that can be submitted to FHS leadership and administration.  The report will also be made available to all students and faculty.  Subsequently, the study team will seek to publish the results in a peer-reviewed journal. While the findings of this research will give insight specifically to the student and faculty experiences within FHS, there may be some findings that could be transferable to other faculties at SFU.