Faculty Mentor Guidelines
FURSCA's research programs are designed to provide students with the opportunity to work intensively on a research, creative, or scholarly project, under the supervision of an Albion College faculty member. We have prepared these guidelines to provide some basic information about the program, and to address some frequently asked questions about the responsibilities of faculty mentors.
Only students in good academic and social standing are eligible to participate in FURSCA-sponsored programs. Students applying for research grants must have a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 2.70 or above, and should not be on academic or social probation. Students with a CGPA of less than 2.70 and/or who are not in good academic and social standing should not apply; those who are placed on academic or social probation during the semester will lose their eligibility. If there are extenuating circumstances exceptions may be made; the student will have the option of providing us with more information and you are welcome to advocate on behalf of the student as well.
FURSCA offers academic year research grants (fall semester and spring semester) as well as summer research grants. The deadline for fall research grants is in early October and the deadline for spring research grants is in early February. Please look on the corresponding main information pages for exact deadline dates.
Academic year grants are designed to provide funding for project expenses (maximum of $500.00 per semester).
Summer Research Grants
Summer research grants are designed to provide funding for project expenses (maximum of $500.00) and a weekly student stipend during the research period. During this eight-to-ten week research period, weekly seminars will be held and social events for students will be planned. The student must consult with the faculty mentor to determine the specific weeks that the research project will take place.
Faculty mentors MUST be available to meet with the students that they supervise. Some projects may require daily meetings with students for several hours a day; others may require only hour-long meetings once or twice a week. However, it is expected that the faculty mentor and the student will meet to discuss the progress of the project at least once a week. Keep this in mind in planning for the specific dates that you will supervise a summer project as you must be available during each week that the student is receiving a stipend from FURSCA. Similarly, students should take into account planned family vacations and other potential conflicts when choosing their weeks of participation in the program. If you must be away from Albion for up to one week during the eight-to-ten-week period, you must make arrangements such that the student will be able to make adequate progress on the project during your absence.
Summer research students are required to devote their full efforts (i.e., 40 hours per week) to their projects during the weeks that they are receiving FURSCA funding. Because they are being paid by the college for 40 hours of work per week, the students may not work at other on-campus jobs. Gerstacker summer students and SOAR leaders must defer participation in the FURSCA summer program until after these other commitments have ended. Because of our past experiences, working at an off-campus job is also strongly discouraged. Students who wish to hold an off-campus job during the weeks that they are working on their FURSCA project must receive prior permission from their faculty mentor and must notify FURSCA in writing that this permission has been given.
Faculty mentors will receive a stipend from FURSCA as compensation for their work with summer research students. The amount of compensation will be related to the number of hours of effort that the faculty mentor must commit each week to supervise the student project (contact hours plus preparation time) as estimated by the faculty mentor. The exact amount of compensation will be determined at the time that the project awards are made, but is anticipated to be a minimum of $1,500 per faculty mentor (for those who participate for a minimum of ten weeks).
As stated above, you must be willing to meet on a regular basis, at a minimum of once per week, with the student whose project you have agreed to supervise.
FURSCA encourages students and their faculty mentors to resolve some specific issues related to the project before the research project begins. Some suggested issues of importance are:
- Student's responsibilities
- Mentor's responsibilities
- Work schedule
- Meeting schedule
- Interim project deadlines
- Expected outcomes of the project
- Evaluation criteria (for student and faculty mentor)
In some cases it might be helpful for the student and faculty mentor to state in writing the agreement reached. Examples of such "research learning contracts" can be obtained from the FURSCA Coordinator.
Occasionally we have encountered projects where a student or a faculty mentor feels that the other is not fulfilling his or her agreed-upon duties. Please feel free to contact either FURSCA's Director or the Coordinator if a problem should arise. Students will be informed that they have the right to discontinue the project if, after making a good faith effort to resolve the conflict (with mediation if needed), the problem cannot be corrected. Similarly, if you encounter a difficulty with the student not fulfilling his or her portion of the agreement, we will be happy to work with you and the student to try to solve the problem. You have the right to terminate the project (i.e., "fire" your student) if the conflict cannot be resolved.
During the eight-to-ten-week summer research program, you are strongly encouraged to attend as many of the weekly research seminars as possible. The seminars are held on Thursdays from 3-5 p.m. each week. These seminars are a valuable opportunity to interact with the summer research students, and attendance by faculty mentors, even when their own students are not making presentations, is evidence of faculty support for this program.
Your student will be required to make a presentation at one of the weekly seminars. We expect that part of your supervision of this summer project will be to assist the student in preparing for this presentation.
Statement of Faculty Support
We ask the faculty sponsor to write a letter supporting the student's research project. In addition to the usual information, the committee would also like to see in the letter:
- Your support of the project
- If you feel that any areas of the student's proposal are not clear, clarification of the project. The committee might ask the student to include this information in a revised proposal. This is not to be taken as a criticism of the proposal, but as a way to make sure the student understands the project in the same way that you do.
- Approximate meeting schedule per week
- Hours per week you plan on working one-on-one with the student (summer only)
The student will fill out an application at the FURSCA application Web site. They will upload, as a PDF file, a copy of their research proposal describing the project, and print out a signature page. They will then click a button on the Web site which will send an e-mail to you telling you that a student has submitted a proposal listing you as a faculty mentor. You will then need to go to the FURSCA application Web site, and click on the "Faculty Advisors" link. There you will be able to read the student's application and proposal. Mentors then write a Statement of Faculty Support, save this letter as a PDF, and upload it to the Web site. The student is then responsible for obtaining all required signatures and submitting a printed copy of the signature page to the FURSCA Office by the deadline. Because this is a competitive program, applications received after the deadline will be considered for funding only after all other applications received on time have been reviewed. We try to make it clear to students that it is their responsibility to make sure all portions of the application are turned in on time, but your assistance with providing the support statement and your signature before the deadline is appreciated.
Evaluation of Student Proposals
Each proposal for a FURSCA research grant is evaluated by the FURSCA Advisory Committee, which consists of faculty members from various departments and two student representatives. While FURSCA does attempt to fund a wide variety of projects, we have no quotas to provide a specific number of awards to students from particular departments.
Visiting professors who will not be returning to Albion the following semester may not supervise summer research students. Non-tenure-track faculty members whose status is uncertain may sponsor one student application; if the project is approved, the support will be contingent on the faculty member's receiving a contract the following semester.
FURSCA will not consider funding projects that have not met the standards set by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for human subjects research or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), where applicable.
Students and their faculty mentors will be notified of the status of their applications via e-mail within a few weeks of the deadline.