The Faculty Mentor
Individual Studies Faculty Mentor Defined
Students must first select and gain the support of a faculty mentor in order to apply to IVSP. The Faculty Mentor helps with the design of the student's curriculum, serves as an academic resource throughout the student's time in the program, and assigns and submits the grades for all of the student's special IVSP coursework (see below). Faculty Mentors and students should work together regularly in an academic partnership throughout the student's involvement with IVSP, but especially 1) as the student is designing the program, 2) as the student is completing independent studies, and 3) as the student completes the senior project. The Faculty Mentor must also approve requests for changes in the approved curriculum for the major. Mentors are generally members of the teaching faculty with the title of Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Proessor; on occasion, instructors and lecturers with significant expertise in the student's field of study and an ongoing relationship with the University may serve as faculty mentors. The IVSP staff provide administrative support for both the student and the Faculty Mentor.
IVSP317: Progress Report
Each semester, the student must submit a 4-5 page self-reflective report to his or her Faculty Mentor as well as to the IVSP office. This progress report is intended to provide a context for advising and mentoring. In the student's final semester before graduation, students register for IVSP317. The IVSP Staff submits a grade of satisfactory/fail based on the accumulated progress reports and their attendance at three IVSP events per year. This is a one-time registration.
IVSP318 (Optional): Independent Learning Activities
The Faculty Mentor assists the student in planning independent study projects or internships using the IVSP318 course designation. Faculty Mentors help design the experience, determine the credit level, and grade the project when it is completed. The Faculty Mentor must approve if someone else will be supervising the experience, as in the case of an internship. During the IVSP 318 experience, the students are required to complete written assignments and/or other reflective activities designed to assist them in integrating their out-of-class learning with broader learning goals for the individually designed major. The Faculty Mentor works with the student to design appropriate reflective activities.
IVSP 420: Senior Thesis/Capstone Project
All Individual Studies majors are required to complete IVSP 420, Senior Thesis/Capstone Project, for 3 credits during the semester they will graduate. The IVSP Senior Thesis/Capstone Project is a significant undertaking, synthesizing the student’s interdisciplinary course of study, and should be conceptualized and completed under the guidance of the Faculty Mentor. In most cases the project takes the form of a significant written work on a topic that mirrors the overall purpose of the student’s degree program. In some cases, a performance, exhibition, or other activity may by the focus of the project if prior arrangements are made with the Faculty Mentor; however, a significant written component must also be submitted in this case. The student’s IVSP Senior Thesis/Capstone Project must be evaluated by the IVSP Faculty Mentor and two additional faculty members (selected by the student with the advice of the Faculty Mentor), but the final grade will be assigned and submitted by the Faculty Mentor.
One of the hallmarks of the Individual Studies graduation ceremony is that each graduate is introduced and celebrated by his or her Faculty Mentor. Our students as well as their parents and guests are grateful to hear from the Faculty Mentors who have worked closely with them. Not only are they impressed by the ingenious ways IVSP majors take excellent advantage of the educational opportunities offered at College Park, but they are also moved by the willingness of our faculty to give of themselves personally. Thus the IVSP graduation ceremony also celebrates and recognizes the Faculty Mentors. Without the help of dedicated and caring faculty members, our creative and highly motivated students would not be able to achieve their academic goals at the University of Maryland.
Images on this page by Lisa Helfert