Working with Faculty | Kent State University

Working with Faculty

FACULTY MENTORS

Working with faculty can be intimidating at first. Students rarely formally walk up to a professor and ask, “Will you be my mentor?”  The process is usually much more subtle and natural.  Asking a faculty member for advice on a project, a piece of art, dance, etc. is one way these relationships begin.  Overall, this process should develop naturally and, like any relationship, should be based on positive chemistry with the person instead of age, race, or gender.  Most faculty members have chosen to work in education because they enjoy helping people learn, and serving as a mentor is another way they fill that role. 

  • Build positive relationships with professors in class.  Come to class on time, prepared, and ask good questions.
  • Do your best work.  Turn in work on time.  Ask for feedback on how you can do better.
  • Attend university-sponsored social or cultural events that faculty also attend.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask advice from a professor you look up to.  Let the relationship grow naturally.

For more information, read the Tips for Connecting with Faculty Mentors.  

TIPS FOR POSITIVE LEARNING

Faculty and student expectations are based on how everyone contributes to a positive learning environment.  There are several learning “cultures” and in the College of the Arts.  Studio, classroom, rehearsal and laboratory are a few.  You may be required to work both independently and in a collaborative group. 

Here are some ways to contribute to a positive learning environment:

  • Meet all deadlines and responsibilities as assigned.  Be on time for all rehearsals, studios, performance calls, work calls, group meetings and classes.  If, for any reason, you are not able to come to a scheduled class or production session, e-mail and call your instructor, supervisor, conductor, group leader or stage manager to let them know in advance that you will be late or absent.  Work to keep ahead of schedule.
  • Come to all class, studio, rehearsal and performance sessions fully prepared and ready to participate.  Do your homework.  Come with ideas to share.  Consider the ideas of others.  Accept that your idea may not be incorporated into the work or that your instructor may guide you in a different direction.
  • Be alert throughout the class or activity.  Focus your attention on what is happening.  If you are not actively participating, be an active observer or an active listener.  Learn to take notes that will be useful to you after the class or activity is over.
  • Be generous in your participation, support the efforts of others and be polite and courteous to your fellow classmates and collaborators.  When one succeeds, you all succeed.
  • Strive to understand differences in people and ideas.  Embrace the new.  Be curious. Be respectful.  Be open.  Be kind.
  • Be honest with yourself and others. Accept responsibility for your work and do not blame other people or things for your mistakes.  Accept that you will not always succeed the first time but will learn and grow stronger so that you will succeed the next.  Don’t let the negatives define you.  Reflect on your mistakes and move on.
  • Because much of what we do is created in a public forum, understand that public criticism of your work is part of your education as an artist and/or a professional.  Accordingly, understand that a note from a faculty member, director, or a conductor is not a personal criticism.
  • Be patient and avoid temperamental outbursts and defensive or argumentative behavior.  Give and take criticism in a positive manner. Do not engage in caustic criticism of another's work.  Strive to be positive every day.
  • If you are a performing artist, observe backstage courtesy and adhere to and support the rules of the performing venue and the “etiquette” of the discipline in which you work.  If you are a designer or artist, observe the courtesy and rules of the studio or workplace.
  • Understand that the most respectful way to deal with problems is by direct communication with your faculty and student colleagues.  Accordingly, keep your faculty and student colleagues apprised of the progress of your work, and notify your instructor as soon as you encounter problems completing assigned tasks.
  • Avoid behavior that is detrimental to the wellbeing and reputation of yourself and others, and forego social activities that interfere with or compromise your ability to participate in your studio work, group work, rehearsals or performances.
  • Avoid making negative comments about your colleagues, instructors or the work in social media.
  • If you are a performing artist, accept the director's/conductor’s vision of the production as a whole.  Understand your role is as a portion of that whole and that your vision is subordinate to the director's/conductor’s. 
  • Seize the opportunity to learn everything you can.  Observe others when you are not “doing.”  Volunteer to learn extra skills.  Look for additional challenges. Try new approaches to your work.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Practice, practice!
  • Look for ways to apply the knowledge you gain in the classroom to your work outside the classroom.
  • Direct your efforts so that the School will be a better place for you having been there.
For more information about faculty expectations and what you can expect from faculty please explore these additional resources: 

What Faculty Expect From Students
What Students Can Expect from Faculty
Establishing Credibility
Student Responsibilities in College

CRITICISM

You will evaluate your own work and the work of others throughout your career.  Many times it will be public such as a review or by a faculty member or peer in class. Because we are personally invested in our work, it is often hard to avoid taking this criticism personally. 

Here are some tips for receiving criticism:

  • Know that criticism of your work is a great part of learning and improving.
  • If you don’t understand what the reviewer means, ask questions.
  • Know that criticism is about the work.
  • Be respectful of the critic.  Listen.  Avoid argumentative responses.
  • If you are asked to defend your choices, work to do so in a positive manner.

Here are some tips for giving criticism:

  • Know the “rules” and “format” of the critical response.  Your faculty will establish guidelines for both verbal and written responses.
  • Avoid generalizations such as “I don’t like….”  Specific observations are more helpful.  Emotional responses are valid.  Everyone will learn more if you evaluate why you have that response.
  • Know that you learn by critically evaluating the work of others.  Practice and develop the skills of “looking,” “seeing,” “hearing,” and “feeling.”
  • Be respectful of the work and the one who created it.  Find ways of being positive even if you are saying something negative.
  • Be prepared for the creator to ask you to explain your response in more detail or ask you questions.
LINKS FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Tips for Connecting to Mentors

Why you need a mentor to be successful, article by Dan Gheesling
How to start a mentorship relationship, Forbes article by Chrissy Scivicque
5 ways to find mentors and make them matter, Forbes article by Glenn Llopis

Students Rights and Responsibilities in College

Kent State University Student Accessibility Services
Student Accessibility Services Rights and Responsibilities
Kent State University Code of Student Conduct
Kent State  University Office of Student Conduct
Student Responsibility to Academic Integrity (via the Writing Commons)
Kent State University Academic Advising
Kent State University Financial Aid
"How to Study" Resources

Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct Resources

KSU Academic Misconduct
KSU Code of Student Conduct
KSU Academic Hearing Panel Process
KSU Information for students on plagiarism
Basic information on plagiarism
KSU Flowchart of Administrative Policy for Student Cheating and Plagiarism