Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Mentoring Doctoral Students in a Developing Society

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Mentoring Doctoral Students in a Developing Society

Article excerpt

Introduction

When the topic of mentoring Doctoral Students arises, immediately, the question, "Is there any need for mentoring Doctoral Students?" would arise. Especially, when right from the Under Graduate level, the present day students are required to work on assignments, projects, dissertations, seminar presentations, etc. They have been guided through out. When it comes to Doctoral research work, the Doctoral Students are supposed to have research aptitude and the research guide or supervisor is expected to guide the student right from the identification of the research problem till the completion of the research report. Guiding and rectifying the mistakes in the research work and also the research report are part of the duty of the research supervisor. Mere guiding and putting the Doctoral Students on the right track, is called mentoring? It is the basic function of the research supervisor. Then what is mentoring? Mentoring is something beyond this basic function of the research supervisor. In fact, this is more important than mere guiding. I would say, "Mentoring is more important, without which, the quality of research work will be affected, the research aptitude of the students would not improve, and there will be the instances of dropouts even at the level of Doctoral Research." Research has demonstrated that good mentoring is a key variable for determining success in a doctoral program (Adams & Conley, 1986). Especially in the developing societies, the background and characteristics of the students are different from the students in developed societies. These students are characterized by rural background, regional media, economic backwardness, etc. The students in Indian universities come from different backgrounds, hence, mentoring proves to be imperative in Indian universities.

Further, Doctoral research work is an important academic activity due to which new knowledge would be contributed by the academic institutions, it promotes collaborative research, an understanding and continued relation between the teacher/supervisor and the taught. Thus it builds the academic and research communities. Therefore, mentoring is as important as guiding and correcting the research work. Summers-Ewing (1994) concludes that "people with mentors become quickly socialized to an organization or profession, obtain high-visibility assignments, stay well-informed of future opportunities and are coached to success." Quoting Jacobi (1991), Dickinson and Johnson (2000) present the characteristic merits of mentoring noted general agreement that: (a) mentor relationships are helping and supportive relationships which help the protege succeed in school, work or in reaching long range goals, (b) mentoring includes component areas of psychosocial support, direct assistance and role modeling, (c) mentoring relationships are reciprocal in that the mentor has been found to also benefit from the relationship, (d) mentor relationships are personal, and (e) within the mentor relationship, the mentor shows greater professional experience, influence and achievement. Dickinson and Johnson (2000) further state, the psychosocial functions include role modeling, provision of acceptance and support, counseling and friendship.

The mentor/mentee relationship becomes more vital depending on the psychological, social and cultural background of the mentee. Ku, Lahman, Yeh, & Cheng, (2008) state that, "The mentor/mentee relationship may be even more vital for international graduate students because they are dealing with a high level of cultural adjustment and language barriers, along with attempting to understand the culture of academia." This is quite true, every student has his/her own typical psychological, social, economic, and cultural background that influence his/her behavior.

The observations of Collinson and Hockey (1997) as quoted by Deem and Brehony (2002) are almost the same with the present conditions of Doctoral Research in non-science fields in our university. …

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