Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ethics - Mentors

Think about the person who did the most to mentor you.  What three words would you use to describe this individual?  This is the question I asked the participants in last week’s Teaching Research Ethics workshop to consider.  Then I asked them to write down these three words on post-it notes and we collected all of the contributions and created a concept map in which we tried to organize the terms by theme.  I also took the post-it notes with me following the session and after copying them all into a word document, I created a wordle image based on the words.  If you have used wordle before, it’s a website (go to that takes a text and creates an image that represents the most often occurring words in larger type while less often occurring words are included in smaller type.  The resulting “word cloud” gives you a visual sense of which words are most central in the text.  Here’s the word cloud we created from the words we collected.  While words reflecting knowledge, scholarship, and experience appear, it’s clear that the most compelling characteristics of a good mentor are qualities like patience, generousity, encouraging, kind, compassion….the values associated with a caring and supportive individual.  What does this have to do with ethics and AR?  I’d argue that it is in the context of a mentoring relationship that most of us learn the values that will guide our actions as scholars.  Our actions establish the model our students and others who look to us for guidance will use to create their understanding of what it means to be an ethical action researcher. Take a minute to look over the wordle image and think about those you mentor.  How are you reflecting the values these participants identify as most critical to a positive mentoring relationship?

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