A conversation with Leyte Winfield of Spelman College on mentoring students.
A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dr. Leyte Winfield is a teacher, scholar, and mentor. She strives to expose everyone to the beauty and versatility of chemistry and to nurture the potential of women of color interested in pursuing degrees in the field. In 1997, she received a commission in the United States Army Reserve where she obtained the rank of captain and was assigned to the Army Medical Institute of Chemical Defense before resigning her commission in September of 2009. Academically, she pursued the study of chemistry with the hope of becoming a cosmetic scientist. Her aspirations led her to obtain a B.S. in Chemistry from Dillard University and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of New Orleans. She is a synthetic organic chemist with experience in academic, industrial, and military laboratories. From these combined experiences she has gained expertise in the various aspects of medicinal drug design, instrumental methods, and synthetic techniques. Her current research interest is to understand the relationship of the structure of a molecule, particularly benzimidazoles, to its activity as a chemotherapeutic for cancers that disproportionately impact the African American community. Her efforts have been recognized by the American Association of Cancer Research and the Council for Undergraduate Research and have been funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. She holds six patents covering more than 500 unique small molecules. Her emerging interest in chemical education and broadening participation has produced two textbooks, several publications, and funding from the national science foundation.
Janet Branchaw, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, serves as the Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement (WISCIENCE) and the Associate Director of the National Research Mentoring Network’s Mentor Training Core. She has led several NSF-funded projects focused on undergraduate research experiences and authored the Entering Research and 2nd edition of the Entering Mentoring curricula. Her research focuses on the development and study of student and faculty development interventions designed to improve undergraduate STEM education.
Debra Rudder Lohe is director of the Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning at Saint Louis University. In this role, Debie sets vision and direction for the Center, oversees the creation of new programs and collaborations across the University, and manages the daily operations of the Center and its staff. Ultimately, she sees her role as helping educators move from intuition to intention in their teaching, advancing evidence-based teaching methods and interactive learning spaces, and promoting a culture of critical reflection in the university.
How would you feel if someone told you that your intelligence, talents, and personality were fixed traits that could not be changed? What if someone else told you that these same traits could be nurtured, developed and grown throughout your life? How would you feel then? The answers to these questions have an enormous impact on a person's mindset, and consequently, in mentoring. A mindset is a set of beliefs that an individual has about his/her most elemental traits. When we, as mentors, foster a fixed mindset (whether consciously or unconsciously), we may leave our mentees with the belief that their intelligence, abilities and talents are already determined and nothing can be done to change them. However, when we foster a growth mindset, our mentees are shown that their traits can be developed throughout their lives with conscious and sustained effort. Mentees can then begin to see a world without limitations. GROWTH AND FIXED MINDSETS IN MENTORING: THE TALE OF THE HELP AND THE HINDRANCE focuses on examining those behaviors, many of which we may be unaware, that foster the growth and the fixed mindsets. It also provides some helpful scenarios that demonstrate how to foster a growth mindset and discourage a fixed one. Finally, a mindset quiz is included to help you (and your mentees) determine what kind of mindset you have.