Mentoring adds value at many levels for mentees, mentors and supervisors and can benefit all parties involved. Developing this relationship helps the parties to learn new things, build their networks, and grow as professionals.
To ensure success in the mentoring relationship, the Faculty of Humanities at the North-West University (NWU) developed two short courses to prepare mentors and mentees for their roles:
- Being a successful mentor
- Being a successful academic mentee
These courses aim to develop academic mentors and mentees who value mentorship – enabling them to develop their competencies and build their efficacy. These short courses utilise an online learning system that is learner-centred and allows self-directed learning.
The launch took place on 1 August. Prof Dumi Moyo, executive dean of the Faculty of Humanities, gave the welcoming address.
“We have been discussing the need for a mentorship programme that can help guide our young academics and accelerate our staff development because we are a young faculty with roughly 47 of our staff who are still at junior lecturer and lecturer level. We realised that we could easily assign senior academics to mentor the young and upcoming scholars, but that not all senior academics have a good sense of what a mentorship programme entails. The reason for this is that they have not been exposed to a programme of such a nature, and not all junior academics know what being a mentee entails.”
The mentorship programme, designed by the Optentia Research Unit, addresses this challenge by targeting the mentor and mentee separately before they enter this relationship. The courses provide the necessary theoretical and practical guidelines to enable an enriching and fulfilling mentorship relationship.
An expert discussion also took place, facilitated by Prof Lucius Botes, director of Research at the Faculty of Management and Economic Sciences. Prof Malebo Ngoepe, an associate professor from the Mechanical Engineering department at the University of Cape Town, spoke about mentorship in unexpected places, and Prof Norman Duncan, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic of the University of Pretoria, spoke about mentoring in an era of rapid and unpredictable change. Prof Irma Eloff, professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Pretoria, gave a talk titled “To thine own self, be true”.
Prof Ian Rothmann, director of the Optentia research unit at the NWU, and Dr Neil Barnard, postdoctoral research fellow at the NWU, gave detailed insights regarding the two short courses.
Prof Ian thanked the faculty members who had provided inputs, the colleagues they had interviewed and the team who had worked on the development of the two courses. He also highlighted the importance of staff doing the mentorship course before they take on the mentoring role – this was what they were encouraging in the faculty. He added that they had consulted with the relevant people and were optimistic that this course would do well. “I have been in academia for 40 years, and that is why I feel I can make a difference in how academics feel.” The course will be available across all faculties and universities.
In her closing thoughts, Prof Mirna Nel, deputy dean for Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Humanities at the NWU, expressed her excitement about the short courses. “When we decided to develop the mentorship course, I knew that I wanted to approach Optentia because of their knowledge and expertise, and we knew that mentorship should not just be limited to career advice, but should also be about the mentee.”
For more information on the courses, please visit https://optentia.co.za/education.php and select Registered Short Courses. You can watch a short video about the short courses here