How to Use My Mentoring Dashboard

by Tracy C. Davis

At regular intervals, such as the beginning and end of each academic year, I ask my PhD mentees to fill in the Mentoring Dashboard and meet with me for a planning session. It functions as a “Student-At-A-Glance” tool. We sit down together and go over the information on the worksheet. I find that the schematic presentation of information assists me in ascertaining:

  • whether the student is preparing to meet milestones,
  • thinks about the whole set of tasks that must be undertaken,
  • seeks advice on particular aspects of their planning,
  • experiences undue stress or uncertainty about expectations, or
  • is oblivious to my concerns.

Sometimes the student volunteers ideas for the “New Strategy” column, and sometimes I do. I make suggestions and write comments on the worksheet for my own reference. Often, I will review the previous session’s version to ascertain whether the student is stuck in any category.

In my experience, regular discussions of the data in the Mentoring Dashboard suffices to keep me apprised of the student’s progress/plans and to enable the student to determine priorities and envision a productive work plan. I often ask students to write up a timetable of objectives and deadlines— particularly if they would benefit from additional structure.

The Mentoring Dashboard encompasses career planning, however, Independent Development Plans (IDP) take this a step further by making career objectives explicit. IDPs may be more appropriate (as a supplement or alternate) for students with career planning issues.