According to Spillet and Moisiewicz (2004), the mentor must serve a supportive role to nurture, encourage and advise students through the process while simultaneously challenging students to develop their research and critical thinking skills. In evaluating the effectiveness of your mentor, Spillet and Moisiewicz suggest the following roles of the ideal mentor: cheerleader (e.g., develops trusting, encouraging relationship with student), counselor (e.g., shares strategies which serve to build motivation), coach (e.g., helps to maintain focus on the big picture) and critic (e.g., provides clear, concise, concrete feedback).
The services provided by Statistical Sanity are built on this definition of the ideal mentor. This virtual mentor model uses a more supportive and proactive approach than students generally receive from their mentors.
Spillet, M.A., & Moisiewicz, K.A. (2004). Cheerleader, coach, counselor, critic: Support and challenge roles of the dissertation advisor. College Student Journal, 38, 246-256.
The single best factor which differentiates those students who make significant progress in their thesis or dissertation and those that do not is the number of hours spent working on the project (Krieshok, Lopez, Somberg & Cantrell, 2000). The second best predictor is the confidence to make the committment to do the work, ask for help when needed and make progress.
Nothing is more obvious to students pursuing a graduate degree than two very common sense ideas which stem from this research:
If you spend time working on your thesis or dissertation, you will make progress and get it done.
If you need help completing it and are willing to get help, you will be more likely to make progress and complete it.
As Statistical Sanity, you will work with someone who speaks your language even when discussing the most technical and potentially ambiguous aspects of your research. This approach leads to a decrease in your frustration, an increase in your motivation as you see the light at the end of the tunnel and more focused time working toward your goal.
Krieshok, T.S., Lopez, S.J., Somberg, D.R., & Cantrell, P.J. (2000). Dissertation while on internship: Obstacles and predictors of progress. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 31, 327-331.
Often, people who pursue a degree towards a professional practitioner career (e.g., counselor, psychologist, nursing) possess qualities that are in contrast to those required of research scientists. Characteristics associated with scientific professions include self-sufficient, autonomous, introverted, pragmatic, logical, field independent, curious and creative while individuals who choose clinical or service-oriented professions are often extroverted, emotionally expressive, field dependent, prefer intuition, are altruistic and have a high need for nurturance.
While it is not possible to alter one's personality to accommodate tendencies which foster an orientation toward scientific inquiry, acknowledging one's strengths and limitations as they pertain to the process helps one to isolate potential causes of frustration or difficulties.
Frank, G. (1984). The Boulder model: History, rationale, and critique. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 15, 417-435
Completing a graduate degree requires a great deal of time and energy. Thus, it is only natural that students experience difficulty completing the final hurdle. After completing coursework and applied experiences, students are often physically and emotionally exhausted -- a natural consequence of dedicated and intensive endeavors. However, this does not mean that completing the process must be difficult and counterproductive. Rather, it emphasizes the need for assistance and productive mentoring.
According to Johnson and Conyers (2001), who have investigated the effectiveness of solution-focused mentoring and counseling to assist in completing theses and dissertations, the following strategies have been helpful:
- focus on your strengths and ways of coping that have worked for you in other demanding endeavors
- consider your long-term goals to better identify strategic solutions
- develop a workable plan which builds on daily and weekly goals that are specific and attainable
- focus on what you know you can do
- view your progress as positive
Johnson, R.W., & Conyers, L.M. (2001). Surviving the doctoral dissertation: A solution-focused approach. Journal of College Counseling, 4, 77-80.