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- Mentors, instead of being the fount of knowledge, seek to guide students' own learning through questions and dialogue.
- Mentors listen to student goals and help students determine their own course of study.
This relationship makes the critical difference in the education of the student at Empire State College.
Students are typically required to write extensively and to explain orally what they understand and how their understanding relates to the various learning activities they have undertaken. Mentors provide students with the ongoing, specific feedback that clearly facilitates their academic growth. Students are expected to acquire greater independence in the study process, and in deciding what and how to learn. Mentoring can be seen as student-centered, customized, and focused more upon learning than upon teaching.
- To promote student independence, mentors collaborate with their students.
- To realize individualized study, mentors must give up the perfectly prepared syllabus and learn to improvise.
- Mentors must learn how to help students adapt learning activities to their individual interests.
See the further discussion of Roles of Mentors.
Independence of Students
When students work independently:
- they might help select and locate appropriate reading
- they might determine the activities needed to acquire that knowledge.
All learning at Empire State College is flexible enough to allow student input and direction.
Students ideally develop self-directed learning skills:
- learning to ask questions, recognize issues to be researched, address problems that are meaningful to them.
Individualization of Studies
- students and mentors together can develop unique programs of study
- inquiry can be based in an integrated or interdisciplinary approach
- the student can design studies that take into account the student's current level of skill.