At a Glance

The fourth section of the Work-Based Courses toolkit discusses how participants must adjust to their expanded roles, particularly faculty and employers' senior employees that will act as supervisors and mentors for the course.

Published jul. 30, 2000

Training Employer Supervisors and Mentors

In work-based courses, participants—college faculty, employer supervisors or mentors, and workers—stretch beyond their traditional roles. So it is important to prepare partners for the expanded roles they will play. Training employer supervisors to be mentors is one of the most challenging parts of successfully implementing a work-based course. In a mentoring role, employer supervisors function as teachers—willing to instruct and work with work-based students to help them progress. All the while, they need to manage their own assigned responsibilities.

Not everyone is cut out to do this, which makes it important for employers to identify potential mentors from among senior employees who possess a lot of knowledge and experience as well as good people skills. Often, these individuals already teach or coach in the workplace, either formally or informally.

College faculty can prepare supervisors with training that focuses on what it means to be an instructor who can draw out teachable moments during the production process, provide constructive feedback, and then, after a task has been completed, use the experience reflectively to increase the worker’s knowledge and ability. Thorough employer supervisor training is essential to equip supervisors to succeed in their new role, but training must also be flexible to respect their time and other commitments.

Preparing Supervisors to Be Mentors

Questions to Ask before Watching This Video

  • What qualities does a good instructor or mentor possess?
  • In what ways does instruction and learning in a manufacturing plant differ from classroom instruction and learning?
  • Identify some potential challenges that might arise when expert operators are asked to train less-experienced ones.

Questions to Ask after Watching This Video

  • In what ways might shifting from a worker role to a teaching role affect an employer supervisor’s productivity? What accommodations might employers need to make for this?
  • What strategies would you recommend to a supervisor interested in identifying teachable moments and maximizing learning from them?