More Info re: electronic mentoring project

Subject: More Info re: electronic mentoring project
From: "Roberta J. Kirby-Werner" <rjkirby -at- MAILBOX -dot- SYR -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 7 Aug 1996 23:08:07 -0400

Once again I'm overwhelmed by the positive response to my invitation to
participate in this project--so much so that I'm relying on a form letter
to the list to reply to common questions many people shared in their
messages. Here's some of what I have in mind for the project which should
help you decide whether or not to sign on.

Unlike last fall when the mentoring project was largely a research
assignment into particular kinds of professional communication or
writing issues confronting professionals in the workplace, I plan to
make this project more obviously and practically an opportunity for
students to focus on *their* writing and receive feedback from mentors on
how well they execute and complete particular writing tasks. I'm working
now to create a variety of assignments that in some way mimic the kinds of
communications they might expect to produce in the workplace as well as
some sense of the process(es) and constraints involved in their
production. (Any suggestions for assignments here would be most welcome. I
have in mind such things as instructions and/or procedures, proposals of
various kinds (perhaps some in response to RFPs), progress reports, lots
of correspondence related to the projects, performance reviews of team
members, different documents on the same subject for both expert and
novice audiences, etc.)

I anticipate that the collaborative teams working on these projects will
be interdisciplinary because my classes certainly will be. (Last fall I
tried to make the groups more homogeneous, and that strategy created more
headaches than I care to experience this term.) Depending on the range of
assignments I come up with, multiple groups might work on the same
assignment at once, or I might have different groups work on separate
assignments. What I'd like the mentors to do is to advise students as they
work on these projects and comment on drafts to the extent your schedules
allow. I imagine groups of mentors (at least 3 or 4) working with teams of
students (4 or 5 per team) during the 3- to 5-week blocks I anticipate
certain assignments will require to produce a complete draft and at least
one revision. (I may have to adjust the time frame for certain
assignments.) I will let you know what the assignments are ahead of time
and will solicit your preferences as to what one(s) you would like to
comment on. After students get started on the assignments, they will be
responsible for initiating correspondences with you, framing specific
questions they want you to answer, interpreting your responses, revising
according to your suggestions, etc.

For those of you who are willing--and hope many of you are--you will also
have opportunity to correspond with individual students about some of
their own personal projects. Each student will propose 2 or 3
communications tasks which they will work on independently. Resumes and
cover letters are bound to be circulated, but some students might have
other projects in mind for you to review. Students will tackle these
assignments throughout the semester, and it will be their option to
solicit feedback from class mentors. My hope, however, is that students'
appreciation of your expertise will grow over the term and that they will
readily seek your comments. You might also function as a sounding board
for students' questions about the workplace, how they might prepare
themselves more effectively for what awaits them, etc. We'll see.

It's difficult for me to anticipate the time commitment this mentoring
will involve, but I'm hoping that the number of mentors working with
particular groups as well as the manageable number of assignments
students undertake at particular points in the semester will relieve the
pressure on those of you whose time might be otherwise committed during
particular weeks. Of course, if the burden becomes too great, you can
always bow out gracefully.

I hope that this description gives those of you whose interest I piqued
sufficient basis for deciding whether or not to join the rest of us. I
should probably add that the more mentors I enlist, the more I can spread
out theburden of responding . . . .<g>

Please let me know if I can count on you, and if you have any great ideas
for assignments which undergraduates can complete in mind, please send
them my way as well.

Thanks a bunch!

rjkirby -at- mailbox -dot- syr -dot- edu

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