Keys to successful mentoring of undergraduate research teams with an emphasis in applied mathematics research
Independent of institution size and faculty research expectations, a growing number of colleges and universities encourage their undergraduates to engage in some form of research experience. To meet the demand of students seeking such experiences and to ensure these experiences are of high quality, it is imperative to have qualified mentors. While senior faculty rely on years of experience in mentoring research projects, professors stepping into these undergraduate mentoring roles at the graduate student or junior faculty level may not be as equipped to handle the potential hurdles unique to working with teams of undergraduates. This article is aimed at such an audience. Although much of the article is relevant to mentoring projects in any area of mathematics, some comments and suggestions are directed more to working with students in applied mathematics. This article includes advice gleaned from the National Science Foundation-sponsored Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM) faculty workshop in conjunction with personal experiences from the author, a CURM mini-grant recipient. The primary goals of the paper are to answer questions one might have when starting a project with undergraduates and to provide the reader with concrete steps to follow in planning and successfully completing such a project.
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