ONLINE MENTORING FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY GRADUATE STUDENTS: AN INDUSTRY ACADEMIA PARTNERSHIP

Rana Khan, Arhonda Gogos

Abstract


The Professional Science Master’s Biotechnology program at the University of Maryland University College implemented a novel online mentoring program that pairs masters’ students with mentors from the biotechnology industry. The program has grown from 19 mentor-mentee pairs in fall 2009 to 46 pairs in fall 2011. The student retention in the program is currently 80%. Data indicate that the students who continued participating after the first semester had completed more courses before joining the program than the students who dropped. The end-of semester questionnaires show general student satisfaction and provide specific examples of gains in the students’ ability to identify and pursue their career goals. The number of courses completed by the mentees was significantly higher than the number of courses completed by the comparison group, indicating a possible effect of their participation in the mentoring program. So far, more mentees graduated than the comparison group of non-participants, and in less overall time. As the program progresses, possible effects on students’ academic achievement and time-to-graduation will be reevaluated. The effectiveness of the mentoring program on improving the participants’ career prospects after graduation will also be examined.

Keywords


mentoring; biotechnology; distance education; industry

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v17i1.294