Constructive assessment and feedback


Mentor competencies Mentor best practices Mentee competencies
Assess mentee capabilities in core scientific areas. Provide specific and actionable feedback to guide growth. Utilize multiple approaches to assess mentees’ understanding of research concepts.
Provide a balance of affirming and constructive feedback. Create a lab culture that encourages constructive feedback from all members.
Ask mentees how they best receive feedback and consider individual approaches.
Align feedback to mentees’ goals.
Be receptive to constructive feedback. Communicate the types of feedback that would be helpful to you at different stages of your work and training (including appreciation, evaluation, and coaching feedback).
Provide opportunities for trainee input and feedback. Work with mentees to get their input about mentorship; provide multiple ways to provide feedback. Communicate that you value feedback; act on what you learn to design changes in your approaches. Maintain a growth mindset about your mentoring relationship(s). Reflect on whether there are areas for feedback, discussion, or compromise that you would like to communicate and, if needed, seek help about how to broach these topics.
Provide positive reinforcement/ congratulate a job well done. Recognize, acknowledge, support, and celebrate the whole individual and their accomplishments. Tell your mentor when they provide mentorship that helps you.


Refer to the Mentoring Resources page for supporting materials and training opportunities.

  • Use the student and postdoc IDP forms and processes to review mentee skills and progress and provide feedback.
  • Review different types of feedback (e.g., appreciative, evaluative, coaching) and pay attention to which you are providing and in what balance. Ask mentees what works for them.
  • Run an internal lab survey to assess climate and mentee satisfaction. A departmental template and example process is available via the resources page.

Potential pitfalls for mentors

  • Failing to give feedback out of concern for how a trainee will react.
  • Providing only critical feedback.
  • Providing feedback that is vague, unactionable, or contradictory.
  • Presenting mentee mistakes or areas for growth as character flaws or immutable characteristics.
  • Expecting that mentees will feel comfortable providing critical feedback about mentoring or expressing what they want or need to their mentor.