Mentoring SPAN researchers
The SPAN setting is unlike the ordinary classroom. The advisor has unique responsibilities to the program as well as the students. S/he should always remember that SPAN is a student program and whenever possible, students should initiate, plan, and carry out many of the activities. The advisor should assist students in developing skills and attitudes to enable them to take responsibility for themselves and their own learning. It is important for the advisor to be enthusiastic about his/her chosen destination so that s/he may pass that enthusiasm on to the students.
For more information about the role of advisors please contact the SPAN office at 612-626-1083 or Theofanis Stavrou, Ph.D., University of Minnesota professor of history at 612-624-5734.
Preparation for departure
The period of preparation before going abroad is the most difficult, and in many ways, the most important, for both the students and the advisor. SPAN prides itself on the rigorous training it requires of students before going abroad — approximately 40 hours of outbound education. The most successful groups are those whose students have contact with the advisor prior to the group’s first meeting. Recruitment is most successful among students the advisor teaches, advises, or otherwise has regular contact with. The SPAN office will publicize the 2010 destinations through posters, classroom visits, and emails, but it is the advisor’s responsibility to create a viable group.
The advisor supervises the group’s preparation which begins mid-fall and ends the following May. The meetings should help the students learn about the country, its customs, history, geography, art, literature, languages, politics, economy and people. These group meetings should also help students refine their projects and begin their research, make travel arrangements including transportation and housing abroad, establish contacts or methods of contacting people in-country, become acquainted with one another and the advisor.
Group meeting times and locations are decided by the advisor and the students jointly; it is highly recommended that groups meet at least twice per month for a minimum or two to three hours per meeting.
A summer abroad
Advisors are expected to remain with the students in-country for a minimum of eight weeks. The SPAN advisor is not considered a chaperone and is not responsible for the personal conduct of the SPANners. The advisor is expected to be available to assist students with questions about their projects and trouble-shoot when necessary.
Advisors are expected back in the United States at the beginning of the fall term to participate in the second year SPAN business and to supervise the progress and completion of the students’ projects. The advisor should establish a schedule for progress on the projects and meet with the group every four to six weeks until the due date of the SPAN paper. SPAN sets specific deadlines for the progress of research projects; however, the advisor may find it beneficial to add dates to encourage students’ progress.