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Assessing Research On Self Efficacy Among Economically Disadvantaged Undergraduate Students Of Color In Mentoring Programs At Predominantly White Institutions

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

New Research on Retention of URM Groups in STEM

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.244.1 - 14.244.7

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Paper Authors


Terrell Strayhorn University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Dr. Terrell Strayhorn is Associate Professor of Higher Education, Special Assistant to the Provost, and Director of the Center for Higher Education Research and Policy (CHERP) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Recipient of a 2008 NSF CAREER Award (EHR #0747304) for his research on minorities in STEM, Strayhorn is author of several books and over 50 chapters, refereed articles, reports, and analyses.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Assessing Research Self-Efficacy among Economically Disadvantaged Undergraduate Students of Color in Mentoring Programs at Predominantly White Institutions


Previous research has documented the scope and general nature of undergraduate mentoring programs that expose students to the scientific research process; research examining the influence of specific research-related activities on economically disadvantaged undergraduates research self-efficacy, however, has been severely limited. The present study investigated whether specific research-related activities, associated with participation in an undergraduate research program, affected the research self-efficacy of 87 economically disadvantaged students at three research extensive universities. Results indicated that research-related activities such as conducting a literature review or collecting/analyzing data were positively correlated with research self-efficacy. Race, graduate degree aspirations, and research methodology also were related to research self-efficacy among the sample, even after controlling for differences in background traits. Implications for future educational practice are discussed.


The number of historically underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities in research-related careers has not changed significantly over the last three decades, despite considerable efforts to promote access to and interest in research careers.1 In response to this trend, colleges and universities, along with the federal government, have invested enormous resources in programs that expose students to research careers and the scientific process. Undergraduate research programs (URPs), like Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) and the Ronald E. McNair Post baccalaureate Scholars Program, are examples of such interventions.2

Theoretically speaking, URPs are designed to expose students to the realities of research careers,

c - the number of students pursuing research careers.3 The expressed purpose of URPs is critically important given that minorities tend to have lower self-efficacy, lower confidence in their math and science skills, and less access to scientific courses and highly technical learning experiences compared to their majority peers.4 And while previous research has focused on the intended purpose and general nature of URPs of the program,5 no studies were readily uncovered that measured the influence of URP participation on specific learning outcomes such as research self-efficacy. This is the gap addressed by the present study.


The purpose of this study was to measure the influence of background traits and research-related experiences in URPs on research self-efficacy among economically disadvantaged undergraduate students of color who attend predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Specifically, two research questions guided the analysis: (a) What is the relationship between research-related activities

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