Mentor Training Certificate Course for Postdocs

Registration for the 2024 Postdoc Mentor Training Certificate Course is now closed, thank you to all who registered!



Course Description:  Postdocs are in a unique position in which they are navigating a more complex relationship with their mentor(s) and providing guidance to mentees in their labs/research setting. This program uses a curriculum that reflects this dual role, available from the University of Wisconsin Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research, with the goal of improving postdocs’ relationships with their mentors and mentees.

The 8-workshop sequence will be offered virtually over the late Winter and Spring quarters, with meetings held every other Wednesday afternoon from 3 pm – 4:30 pm over Zoom.  The interactive format consists of learning mentoring skills through case studies in small and large group discussions.  All sessions must be attended to receive a completion certificate*.

Course topics and schedule (see full descriptions of topics below):

Date Time Topic
2/28/2024 3:00-4:30pm 1.  Effective Communication
3/13/2024 3:00-4:30pm 2.  Aligning Expectations
3/27/2024 3:00-4:30pm 3.  Assessing Understanding
4/10/2024 3:00-4:30pm 4.  Addressing Equity and Inclusion
4/24/2024 3:00-4:30pm 5.  Self-Efficacy and Ethical Awareness
5/8/2024 3:00-4:30pm 6.  Fostering Independence
5/22/2024 3:00-4:30pm 7.  Promoting Professional Development
6/5/2024 3:00-4:30pm 8.  Work-Life Integration and Articulating a Mentoring Philosophy

* Those postdocs who missed any sessions from a previous years’ training may join the missed sessions in 2024 to complete the requirement for the Certificate.  Any questions can be addressed to Laurie Risner at

Session topics and objectives:

Session 1: Effective Communication

  1. Provide constructive feedback
  2. Use multiple strategies for improving communication (in person, at a distance, across multiple mentees, and within appropriate personal boundaries)
  3. Engage in active listening
  4. Communicate effectively across diverse dimensions, including varied backgrounds, disciplines, ethnicities, and positions of power
  5. Identify different communication styles

Session 2: Aligning Expectations

Mentors will have the knowledge and skills to

  1. Listen to and consider the expectations of their mentee in the mentoring relationship
  2. Consider how personal and professional differences may impact expectations
  3. Clearly communicate expectations for the mentoring relationship
  4. Align mentee and mentor expectations

Session 3: Assessing Understanding

  1. Assess their mentee’s understanding of core concepts and processes and ability to develop and conduct a research project, analyze data, and present results
  2. Identify reasons for a lack of understanding, including expert-novice differences
  3. Use multiple strategies to enhance mentee understanding across diverse disciplinary perspectives

Session 4: Addressing Equity and Inclusion

  1. Increase understanding of equity and inclusion and their influence on mentor-mentee interactions
  2. Recognize the impact of conscious and unconscious assumptions, preconceptions, biases, and prejudices on the mentor-mentee relationship and acquire skills to manage them
  3. Identify concrete strategies for learning about and addressing issues of equity and inclusion

Session 5: Fostering Independence

  1. Define independence, its core elements, and how those elements change over the course of a mentoring relationship
  2. Employ various strategies to build mentee confidence, establish trust, and foster independence
  3. Create an environment in which mentees can achieve goals

Session 6: Self-Efficacy and Ethical Awareness

  1. Articulate ethical issues that mentors need to discuss with their mentees
  2. Clarify mentors’ roles as teachers and role models in educating mentees about ethics
  3. Manage the power dynamic inherent in the mentoring relationship

Session 7: Promoting Professional Development

  1. Identify the roles mentors play in the overall professional development of their mentees
  2. Develop a strategy for guiding professional development using a written document
  3. Initiate and sustain periodic conversations with mentees on professional goals and career development objectives and strategies
  4. Engage in open dialogue on balancing the competing demands, needs, and interests of mentors and mentees (e.g., research productivity, coursework, creativity, independence, career preference decisions, non-research activities, personal development, and work-family balance)

Session 8: Work-Life Integration and Articulating a Mentoring Philosophy

  1. Reflect on mentoring action plans
  2. Articulate planned action(s)
  3. Explore resources to support action plan(s)