Professional Development

Author Archive

Building Effective Mentoring Relationships

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 12:22 pm

In July, the Mentoring Committee (Craig, Mary Beth, and Bobbie) started planning and coordinating this year’s mentoring events and activities. Last year the Committee asked Allison McWilliams (Director of Career Education and Counseling, Professional Development, and the Mentoring Resource Center at Wake Forest University) to lead a training session for mentors/mentees. During her presentation, Allison did an excellent job introducing the group to some of the principles of effective mentoring practices.

To kick off this year’s mentoring program, the Committee decided to invite Allison to come and once again give our new mentor/mentee pairs a quick overview to help us start our mentoring journey. As usual, Allison’s presentation was very well organized and provided opportunities for us to engage in “intentional conversations” and practice active listening. Allison mentioned the importance of setting goals for professional growth and encouraged us to consider completing a “Mentoring Relationship Agreement.”

Allison brought copies of John C. Maxwell’s Mentoring 101 and gave each participant a copy. Skimming through some of the chapters, I can see that this book is going to be a really good resource for our mentors and mentees as we move forward in our mentoring relationships.

Three Ways to Improve Your Peer Mentor Programs

Thursday, December 15, 2011 10:20 am

Allison McWilliams sent out an invite to the ZSR Mentoring Committee to attend a webinar: “Three Ways to Improve Your Peer Mentor Programs.” Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the webinar on the day that it aired. This week I was able to view the recorded webinar.

The webinar offered some excellent advice for staff who work with peer mentors. Webinar speakers were: Jimmie Gahagan (University of South Carolina); Craig Benson (University of Missouri); and Joe Henry (Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning).

Gahagan (who has published on residential learning initiatives) kicked off the webinar by defining the term peer leader as, “students who have been selected and trained to offer educational services to their peers.” He noted that there is value in the peer leadership experience for students in the following areas: academic success, leadership skills, and diversity. During the presentation, Gahagan mentioned the National Peer Educator Survey (NPES) which was developed by a team of researchers and college health experts. Gahagan referenced an article by Wawrzynski, LoConte, and Straker (2011) in New Directions for Student Services that describes learning outcomes for peer educators. An assessment of peer mentors’ needs at the University of South Carolina reveals that students want: professional development; networking opportunities; and feedback and recognition. These were identified by Gahagan as “The Big 3 Gaps.”

In terms of filling these gaps, Benson discussed professional development. Benson noted that “students are effective in helping others.” To assist peer mentors, a lot of training is provided. At Benson’s institution (University of Missouri), there is semester-long training. The Peer Mentoring Program at Sheridan has been around for 14 years.

At all three institutions, networking plays an important role in peer mentoring. Peer mentoring opportunities connect students with other students across campus. It also links them with potential resources for employment.

The third gap deals with feedback and recognition. It is important to create strategies to recognize the efforts of the peer leaders. For example, “A Peer Leadership Recognition Event” at the University of South Carolina provides an opportunity to recognize students and say thank you.

This webcast provided an opportunity to find out about peer mentoring at other institutions. I was able to pick up some ideas that the ZSR Mentoring Committee could consider in developing future mentoring programs.

Revisiting the 1960s

Friday, September 2, 2011 8:49 am

On Thursday, I walked over to Tribble to meet with Dr. Simone Caron’s history seminar class (History 390 – Research Seminar: Long Decade of the Sixities: 1956-1974). These students will be looking at topics such as the Eisenhower administration, Cold War, Watergate, Vietnam, space exploration, civil rights, women’s rights, and student movements.

During the class period, I demonstrated our new “Everything” search from the ZSR homepage. For the “Everything” search, I used the keywords “moon landing.” After entering this term into the search box, I showed the students the type ahead feature that offered other possible suggestions. In this case, Apollo Moon Landing hoax conspiracy theories, Moon, Apollo 11, Moon Landing, and Project Apollo were listed as other relevant terms. Moving the mouse over the suggested terms, I was able to bring up pictures and some additional information including the start (1961) and end date (1975) for the program. Moreover, a brief note indicated that: “The Apollo program was the United States spaceflight effort which landed the first humans on Earth’s Moon.”

Since Dr. Caron’s students need to identify primary sources for their research papers, I showed them how to search for personal narratives. A search for Vietnam AND personal narratives yielded some really good sources. Dr. Caron and her students were very impressed with the new “Everything” search.

I ended my presentation by showing them American Song. This streaming music database was a big hit with the students and the professor. I did a search for “Freedom Riders” and pointed out the album “We Shall Overcome: Songs of the Freedom Riders and the Sit-Ins”. Before class, I created a playlist and used my playlist to play one of the songs.

It was a great afternoon. The brief walk over to Tribble gave me time to reflect and gather my thoughts before I launched into the presentation. I enjoyed meeting and talking with the students about some of the major events of the 1960s that had such a profound impact on my generation.

Mentor/Mentee Training

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 9:11 am

One of the goals of the Mentoring Committee is to offer training/educational programs for both mentors and mentees. One way that we have accomplished this goal is to organize journal reading groups that focus on some aspect of mentoring. The Committee has also been interested in hosting a training session for both mentors and mentees.

Late last fall Susan Smith (former Mentoring Committee member) suggested that we contact Allison McWilliams. Allison came to Wake Forest in the summer of 2010 as the Director of Career Education and Counseling, Professional Development, and the Mentoring Resource Center. In the spring of 2011, the Mentoring Committee met with Allison to discuss offering a training session on developing effective mentoring relationships. On August 16, Allison provided an excellent workshop on mentoring to 10 participants.

Allison’s program included the following objectives:

1. Understand principles of effective mentoring practice
2. Understand and use skills of effective mentors/mentees
3. Develop goals and identify opportunities for personal growth and learning
4. Identify and use tools and resources for effective mentoring conversations

During one active learning exercise, we responded to questions such as: (1) Who has served as a mentor for you in your life? (2) What did that person do for you? (3) What worked well and did not work well in the relationship? and (4) What did that relationship teach you about being an effective mentoring partner? After completing the questions individually, Allison asked that we work in pairs to discuss our answers. We also shared some of our answers with the larger group.

During the session, Allison introduced us to WFU’s definition of mentoring:

“A purposeful and personal relationship in which a more experienced person (mentor) provides guidance, feedback, and wisdom to facilitate the growth and development of a less experienced person (mentee)”.

Allison also covered the three phases of mentoring relationships: beginning, middle, and end. We also learned how important it is to have a set meeting time, create goals, and an action plan.

If you want to learn more about mentoring at Wake Forest, you can go the Mentoring Resource Center’s page at It provides a wealth of resources about mentoring including the Wake Forest University Mentor Handbook. and the Wake Forest University Mentee Handbook.

The Mentoring Training session was very informative, and I came away with a lot of good advice as well as some practical tips that I can implement very quickly.

ZSR Mentoring Committee attends Council meeting

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 12:16 pm

On May 10, Vicki Johnson, Molly Keener, Giz Womack, and I attended the Mentoring Program Coordinator Council meeting. The council meets about two times a semester and provides an opportunity for WFU personnel who lead mentoring programs on campus to exchange ideas. Allison McWilliams (Director, Career & Professional Development, Counseling, and Mentoring) kicked off the morning’s agenda by highlighting some of the accomplishments of the Mentoring Resource Center and presented 2011-2012 goals. One of the overarching goals is to “build a network of strategic partners” who can communicate and inform others about the value of mentoring at Wake Forest. In discussing this goal, several council members offered suggestions on how to promote mentoring on campus. Ideas included reaching out to faculty advisors, Campus Life, and other student organizations.

Allison also sought ideas and recommendations for recognizing National Mentoring Month which is observed every January. National Mentoring Month draws attention to the need of more volunteer mentors to help young people achieve their potential. Council members also discussed the idea of establishing an online social network to help students share what they learn when they go abroad. Although this idea is in the beginning stages, the goal is to tie this back into mentoring. Allison mentioned an exciting women’s leadership program called the Hot Mommas® Project ( The project includes women’s personal case stories and allows “readers to interact with the role model/case protagonist via social media avenues.”

The guest speaker was Melenie Lankau (Associate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior) who discussed her research dealing with mentoring in organizations and the relation of mentoring to personal learning. Lankau has studied both formal and informal mentoring. According to Lankau, mentors provide three specific functions. First they provide vocational support by offering opportunities for protégés to acquire new skills through direct coaching. A mentor also provides psychosocial support which sometimes creates a strong relationship between mentor and mentee and often includes counseling and friendship. The third function involves mentors serving as role models for protégés. Lankau noted that “not everyone can be a mentor.” Individuals in the mentor role may have the expertise and competence but lack specific mentoring skills. If mentors and mentees are mismatched, there could be potential problems in the relationship. In fact, one area of concern mentioned by Lankau is “marginal mentoring,” and as she pointed out, “marginal mentoring is worse than no mentoring at all.”

The Council meeting provided an excellent professional development opportunity for the ZSR Mentoring Committee. We were able to meet with other staff on campus who coordinate other mentoring initiatives and to discuss in an informal setting some of the challenges we face in sponsoring mentoring programs. Our speaker (Melenie Lankau) was excellent and can serve as a great resource for the Mentoring Committee. Both Melenie and Allison are willing to share their ideas about how to build and sustain effective mentoring programs.

Metrolina Information Literacy Conference

Friday, June 18, 2010 1:35 pm

On Thursday, June 17, a group of ZSR librarians (Bobbie Collins, Carolyn McCallum, Molly Keener, Roz Tedford, Ellen Daugman, and Mary Scanlon) attended the 5th Annual Information Literacy Conference in Charlotte. This is the third year that I have attended the Metrolina Conference, and it gets better every year!

While enjoying a quick continental breakfast, I took time to review the conference schedule and made somenotes on which breakout programs to attend during the day. As usual, this conference was well organized and provided an opportunity for participants to select from a wide-variety of excellent programs on information literacy.

The first thing on the morning agenda was the opening keynote presentation. The speaker was Dr. Clara M. Chu, Department Chair and Professor, Department of Library and Information Studies at UNCG. Her presentation focused on “Information Literacy Examined in Multicultural Context.” In her opening remarks, Dr. Chu mentioned that in 2009 President Obama proclaimed October as National Information Literacy Awareness Month:

She noted that in the President’s proclamation he stated that “Americans have unprecedented access to the diverse and independent sources of information, as well as institutions such as libraries and universities, that can help separate truth from fiction and signal from noise.” Obama’s proclamation reinforces the importance of lifelong learning and the library’s involvement in promoting information literacy activities and programs.

In 2000, Dr. Chu published an article in Reference & User Services Quarterly entitled “See, hear, and speak no evil: A content approach to evaluating multicultural multimedia materials.” During her presentation, Dr. Chu made reference to her research and discussed four components to consider when evaluating materials: objectivity/bias, language use, subject mastery, and resources. According to Chu, we live in “multicultural societies and teach in multicultural settings.” Being aware of cultural values and traditions of learners, instructors can apply culturally responsive teaching principles to the classroom.

This year it was extremely difficult to decide which of the breakout sessions to attend. One of the breakout sessions focused on students as lifelong learners. The presenter was Joe Eshleman (Johnson & Wales University). His intriguing title (“Show me the value”) immediately caught my attention and so I decided to attend this session. To stimulate the discussion, Eshleman posed several questions. For example, one question was: “What does it mean to an individual to be information literate outside of the educational context?” There was a lively exchange of ideas and opinions among the participants with many sharing some great insights.

In the afternoon, I attend Roz and Molly’s presentation on using documentary film in IL instruction and Mary Scanlon’s presentation on info-lit for business majors. All of the ZSR presenters did an excellent job, and I came away with a lot of new ideas.

It was a beautiful day to attend a conference. The facilities at Johnson and Wales provided a relaxing setting to enjoy the presentations and reflect on the topic of information literacy. Also the conference provided an opportunity to connect with some IL colleagues and make some new friends in the process.

What the Best College Teachers Do

Monday, March 22, 2010 8:37 am

On March 19, I attended an inspirational presentation by Ken Bain who is the author of What the Best College Teachers Do. The program was co-sponsored by the Wake Forest University Schools of Business and the Teaching and Learning Center. Bain observed that students take three approaches to their learning: surface (trying to remember stuff); strategic (trying to make good grades) or a deep approach (trying to make meaning). It is the last approach where instructors can work to create an environment where deep learning can occur.

In the afternoon session, Bain focused on this question: “Can a change in the syllabus stimulate deeper and more enthusiastic student learning?” In his research, Bain discovered that highly successful teachers “usually produce a certain kind of syllabus.” He broke us up into small groups and asked us to think about the syllabus for one of our courses and to invent one “that makes promises rather than demands.” After a brainstorming session with a partner, he asked the audience to share ideas. One person suggested developing a course around Hurricane Katrina. In her brief presentation, she included a story and questions that could be used in a syllabus to stimulate interest in the course. The session also focused on what students will do to achieve the promise and how students will assess their own learning.

During the session, Dr. Bain exhibited many of the characteristics of what makes a teacher great. His enthusiasm, knowledge of the subject, and sense of humor kept me engaged throughout the session.

Mobile Library, Handheld Librarian

Thursday, February 18, 2010 5:01 pm

On February 17, I attended the keynote session entitled “This is Now: The Mobile Library” as part of the Handheld Librarian Online Conference. The presenter was Joe Murphy who received the Library Journal ‘Movers & Shakers” award in 2009. As a “trend setter,” Murphy believes that librarians need to think mobile about library services. As librarians adapt to the mobile revolution, there will be new expectations and frontiers for us to explore. Murphy stressed the importance of “mobile friendly library spaces.” In addition to creating library spaces for our mobile users, librarians should be gaining the skills and knowledge to offer effective mobile services. As he noted, we need to take steps to “keep the library at the center of the mobile information world.”

2009 UNC TLT online conference

Friday, March 20, 2009 10:02 am

2009 UNC TLT online conference

On Tuesday, March 17, I participated in the University of North Carolina’s 10th Annual Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference. Due to all of the travel restrictions and other budget constraints facing the UNC system, the TLTC Board decided to suspend the registration fee and to host the 2009 conference online. I decided to attend some of the online sessions.

During the Opening Welcome Session, Frank Prochaska, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, noted that this was the first online UNC TLT conference. This conference provided an excellent opportunity for participants to exchange information about the effective use of technology for teaching and learning, and it was a great opportunity to discover some of the innovative approaches that instructors are using in their classes.

The plenary speaker was Bob King who has done a lot of online teaching and is known as “Digital Bob.” King has presented for nine years at the UNC TLT conference, and he was very pleased to be delivering the keynote address. His presentation was entitled “Ready, Steady, and Slightly Rowdy: Rolling into Web 3.0 Katamari-Style.” King says that with Web 3.0 we will need a new attitude. In fact, most of his presentation focused on “attitude.” He sees attitude as a very important part of learning. Attitude is either a “deal maker” or a “deal breaker.” For King, “Web 3.0 signifies a change in the way humans learn from a didactic model to a stochastic model and educators will need a new attitude and metaphors to enact the change.” King encouraged us “elders” to learn from the younger generation by talking with them, finding out what they are interested in, and designing assignments that will engage them. He also encouraged us elders to “get an online life!”

On Wednesday morning, I attended another session on “Student Video Presentations as an Alternative to In-Class Student Presentations.” The presenters (Michelle Harrolle and Charlie Morris) were from North Carolina State University, and they discussed a class project involving a sport finance class. There were 40 students in the class, and the students created a 7-10 minute video presentation. Harrolle explained why she felt that web video was needed in the classroom. She noted that student presentations are a “painful process” for the instructor and that students are “forced to endure” boring presentations. When students develop video presentations, Harrolle believes that students are more engaged through participatory learning and that this type of assignment stimulates creativity. The presenters mentioned that with any technology there will be troubleshooting issues and as Harrolle said: “If technology fails, the overall experience for the students is diminished.” This session was very entertaining with good doses of humor to keep the participants engaged.

The last session that I attend on Thursday morning focused on how librarians at North Carolina State University are using Elluminate to expand their library instructional program. Elluminate offers real-time online learning and collaboration. The presenters were Emily Mazure, Kim Duckett, and Karen Ciccone, and they explained how they were using Elluminate for library instruction. For example: they used the Whiteboard to teach concepts; Application sharing to show search demos; polling to receive feedback; and the chat box for students to communicate. They decided to target Paper Science graduate students in the College of Natural Resources, and they offered several workshops. Unfortunately, only one person attended one session. After this, they decided to create a Pilot Project and offer several workshops via Elluminate. They also marketed the online library workshops by contacting faculty to help promote the workshops. The Pilot Project was more successful, because they had 32 participants who attended five workshops. In a survey, they found that 90% of the students enjoyed using Elluminate.If you want to see a listing of their online workshops, go to:

All in all, this was a great conference! I enjoyed using Elluminate to participate in the conference, and I think that it has a lot of potential for educators to transform the teaching and learning experience.– Bobbie Collins

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