Implementing High Impact Practices (HIP) in Mentorship of Graduate Students and Undergraduate Researchers


  • Heidi Lawrence George Mason University
  • Elizabeth Ferguson George Mason University
  • Lourdes Fernandez George Mason University
  • Rachael Graham Lussos George Mason University



Panelists will discuss a mentoring model for graduate students that emphasizes collaborative, task-oriented practices that build mentorship and professionalization practices. Participants will brainstorm ways to develop their own task-oriented, high-impact mentorship relationships with graduate students within and across institutions.  Participants wil be able to describe several small, task-oriented changes to their program that impact graduate student growth and professional development; list several strategies for connecting graduate students to mentorship opportunities at other institutions; and describe the roles that outside funding, administrative, and university/community/disciplinary resources play in mentorship.



As graduate students face competitive job markets and consider non-academic career paths, it is essential that faculty members and graduate students recognize the full potential of the mentoring relationship as a key component to professionalization. Such work requires thinking outside of traditional, classroom-based forms of mentoring and asks faculty to engage in practices beyond what they might have experienced themselves as students. 

This panel discusses how to create a more intentional mentoring relationship between graduate students and their advisors collaborating in project-based initiatives. Specifically, we draw upon our experiences launching the Virginia Colloquium on the Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (VCRHM), a collaborative research-focused event that brought together students and faculty from seven universities. VCRHM is designed to offer graduate students expanded mentoring options by connecting them to scholars at other institutions and including them intentionally in the planning and development process for the colloquium itself. The methods we identified and put into practice during this project development, we argue, offer a set of useful best practices and lessons learned that might be applied to other situations to help graduate students and their mentors brainstorm new ways to work together.

During this presentation, panelists will share their experiences, with additional insights from a survey of colloquium participants, during the first 20 minutes, briefly focusing on the following areas:

Defining mentoring: We will offer alternative definitions mentoring within the context of a task-oriented, collaborative relationship.

Small tasks/high impact: We will discuss ways that that mentors and students can distribute time and expertise to complete collaborative tasks. 

Outcomes: We will discuss how such projects can produce outcomes that benefit both mentors and students, in the forms of traditional academic professional development (publication) as well as non-academic paths (budgeting, administrative, and networking skills), as an additional benefit to gaining the learned experience.

Funding: Finally, we offer some practical advice on navigating the logistical support required to facilitate such mentoring practices, such as funding sources throughout the university system including grants and student organization funding streams.

 The remaining 20 minutes of the panel will be devoted to a brainstorming session for attendees, using these four topics as a heuristic for articulating the challenges of mentoring for them, their programs, and their own disciplinary-based expectations.

Author Biographies

Heidi Lawrence, George Mason University

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Elizabeth Ferguson, George Mason University

PhD Canditate

Lourdes Fernandez, George Mason University

PhD Candidate

Rachael Graham Lussos, George Mason University

PhD Candidate





10:30am-11:10am Mini-Workshops, Panels, & Roundtables