To: Mentors of students in the Senior Honors Seminar, Hist 194ABCH
From: Harold Marcuse, seminar director (Fall 1998)
I am writing this letter on behalf of students seeking a mentor for their senior honors thesis. At the risk of sounding too bureaucratic, I would like to clarify my role as seminar director, and spell out some of the responsibilities of the students' individual mentors. I do not wish to dictate any obligations to you. Rather, I would like to describe some expectations at the outset so that you can better gauge whether you are willing to make this commitment. This may also offer an opportunity for you to discuss with the student what demands on your time you feel are appropriate.
As director of the seminar, I will work with students on general research and writing questions, such as how to collect materials, where to go for assistance, how to use electronic databases, how to organize a thesis, cite sources, organize a bibliography, and so on. I, and the students' peer reviewers, will read and comment on drafts from a non-specialist's perspective, freeing you to concentrate on substantive issues. I assume responsibility for ensuring that the students are making timely progress toward the completion of their projects. If they are not, I may solicit your help in getting them back on track or terminating their participation in the honors seminar.
As mentor, you should be available to your student(s) on a regular basis. Please keep in mind that these students are in all likelihood future graduate students, and deserve mentoring as such. Since they are undergraduates, they may need somewhat more guidance, but they should also be treated with a spirit of collegiality (assuming that is your mentoring style). As a rule, ½-1 hour of contact time every week or two should be sufficient. I would recommend setting up a regular meeting time, to help the student keep on track. The reading of your student's prospectus and drafts will probably comprise the majority of your time investment. For each 60-80 page thesis, students will be submitting a prospectus in October, a 20-page installment at the end of Fall quarter, and a rough draft at the end of Winter quarter. All will need careful evaluation.
More specifically, at the outset (usually prior to Fall quarter!) you should ensure that your student's topic is sufficiently limited to be a viable senior project, that sufficient source material for the project is available, and that the student is adequately prepared (familiar with the secondary literature) to research the chosen topic. In October, you will need to read and recommend in writing a prospectus submitted for a research grant. In December I will confer with you regarding the first installment, and we will decide whether the student should continue in the seminar. During Winter you will be reading draft sections as necessary, so that by April a penultimate draft will be complete. The final grade should be determined in consultation between you and Jon Glickstein, who will be taking over the seminar from me in Winter quarter.
Finally, all students will be presenting their work orally to the department in late May. I request that you attend your student's presentation, and possibly those of some other seminar participants as well. This is an important event, and your presence signifies your recognition of the students' achievement.
Please be in touch with me if you have any questions!