Peer Mentoring Program
UMUC is known as the global university serving adult part-time students worldwide through a variety of high-quality educational opportunities. Our faculty members have substantial experience in their field of expertise ranging from arts and humanities, behavioral and social sciences, business and management, computing, education, and technology. Having expertise and knowledge is one thing—teaching the subject matter can be quite another. Teaching can also often be a solitary occupation, especially in the field of adult education where classes meet at night or at a distance. Compound these facts with the reality that UMUC students come from diverse backgrounds, needs, levels of ability, and locations, it can then be easily understood that new faculty members and faculty new to online teaching could find their experiences at UMUC to be daunting.
For this reason, new faculty members and faculty members who are new to online teaching are not only welcomed and supported by their respective discipline administrators, but they are also provided with the opportunity to participate in the Peer Mentoring Program offered by UMUC's Faculty Development. The mission of this program is to draw together two professionals in the spirit of constructive dialogue to exchange ideas about good teaching styles, strategies, and general teaching philosophies. This dialogue can also orient subject-area experts to UMUC's policies and practices as they relate to teaching students worldwide.
UMUC academic directors, program chairs, and deans nominate potential mentors each semester and inform the Director of Faculty Development Programs. All mentors are carefully selected for their teaching competency and their ability to interact effectively and supportively with peers. These potential mentors are offered the opportunity to serve during the semester and are given self-study materials for the mentoring process. They are also rostered into Faculty Development Peer Mentor online classroom for discussion about mentoring issues. Mentors are usually scheduled for one mentoring partnership per semester; however, if the mentor is available and interested, he or she may be assigned to one or two additional mentees in a given semester.
The Mentoring Process
Mentoring at UMUC is a real partnership between mentor and mentee. This partnership recognizes that mentees are responsible as a planner and participant in their own professional development process. It also recognizes that mentors can be both a leader and an assistant in the process. Mentoring can be done in a myriad of ways—one-on-one, group, or by multiple mentors. Group mentoring at UMUC is accomplished through Faculty Development's online and evening faculty development workshops, technology conferences, resource listings, etc. Mentees can also personally recruit multiple mentors who can provide advice and guidance from a variety of perspectives about relevant teaching issues.
The UMUC Peer Mentoring Program offers the one-on-one mentoring experience for interested faculty. The Director of Faculty Development Programs, in collaboration with each academic administrator, introduces the mentors and mentees and arranges for the online instructors to be registered into their respective courses. The mentors and mentees also receive the UMUC Peer Mentoring Program manual and relevant supplements that explain the program expectations and mentoring process to be followed throughout the semester in detail. By the end of the semester, both mentors and mentees are required to submit separate summary reports of their mentoring experiences to Faculty Development. Mentors and mentees are also encouraged to share their reports with each other. After review, Faculty Development staff forwards copies of both reports to the mentee's academic administrator with additional copies going into the mentee's and mentor's files in Faculty Development.
The UMUC Peer Mentoring Program has proved its value over the years and, in fact, received an award in 1986 from the Region II District of the National University Continuing Education Association. The program has worked well because of the caliber of our faculty and their willingness to explore multiple approaches to teaching and learning. Please contact the Faculty Development staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 240-684-2770 for further information.