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Capturing Our Stories in Our Voices: Constructing a Narrative Analysis Study of African-American STEM Mentors

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Dissecting the Nuances that Hinder Broad Participation in Engineering

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Joi-lynn Mondisa University of Michigan Orcid 16x16

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Joi Mondisa is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Industrial & Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and holds a PhD in Engineering Education, an MS in Industrial Engineering, an MBA, and a BS in General Engineering. She researches mentoring as intergroup support relations management; STEM mentoring experiences in higher education; and mentoring intervention programs in higher education.

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Some research studies examine the mentoring contributions of African-American faculty mentors; however, there is a gap in research regarding the narrative experiences of African-American STEM mentors who work in various higher education contexts. Understanding the experiences and stories of African-American STEM mentors in higher education and their mentoring relationships with African-American STEM undergraduates can provide many beneficial insights. Yet, evidence of the experiences of this population information about how to craft their stories into informative narratives is scarce. In this paper, I detail the specific methods of an approach to constructing a narrative study analysis and information about the valuable insights provided by using this method. As an example of an approach to narrative analysis, I provide explicit details about methods I used to capture and transform the stories of African-American professionals and mentors into informative narratives about their experiences.

Specifically, the details of the approach used for constructing a narrative study involves using: 1) an interpretivist paradigm which provides an interpretive lens of the participants’ experiences without further marginalizing them, and assists in addressing differences and aiming to understand specific issues, 2) a modified version of an existing phenomenological interview protocol, 3) a qualitative research framework for making and handling data, and 4) specific criteria of narrative analysis method to construct narratives. First, an interpretivist paradigm is used to assist in developing narratives and interpreting participants’ stories and experiences. Using this paradigm in conjunction with a narrative tradition also allows researchers to focus on the “multiple-perspective stories of individuals and who tells the stories” while also acknowledging the “co-construction of the account between the researchers and the participants”. Second, some questions used in the interview protocol were taken from an existing mentoring scale from a phenomenological study where the researcher interviewed African-American faculty at a predominantly White institution about their perceived identities, and their experiences mentoring minority undergraduates. Third, Walther, Sochacka, and Kellam’s integrated framework for quality in interpretative engineering education research is used to confirm the validity and reliability of the methods and processes. Finally, Polkinghorne’s narrative analysis method featuring seven criteria as guidelines is used to configure order and meaningfulness from data to develop rich, full narratives that reflect lived experiences.

Using this type of methodical approach to construct narrative and thematic analysis may result in better understanding African-American mentors’ experiences and mentoring practices to improve ways to increase diversity in STEM higher education. Making this method visible as an approach for researching and analyzing the experiences of this population may significantly advance the understanding of the benefits of mentoring and how to use mentoring to address obstacles that African-American STEM undergraduates confront in college. In addition, this approach provides an example of how to effectively analyze and present information in narrative form detailing the experiences of other populations.

Mondisa, J. (2016, June), Capturing Our Stories in Our Voices: Constructing a Narrative Analysis Study of African-American STEM Mentors Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26448

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