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Collaborative Research-Mentoring for Tribal College Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Developing Young MINDS in Engineering, Part II

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.335.1 - 22.335.10



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Paper Authors


G. Padmanabhan North Dakota State University

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G. Padmanabhan, Ph D., P.E., M. ASEE, F. ASCE is a professor of civil engineering at North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota. He is a long standing member of ASEE and ASCE. Currently, he is also the Director of North Dakota Water Resources Research Institute. He has been active in STEM education outreach activities to minorities at the college and high and middle school levels for the last ten years.

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Carol Davis North Dakota EPSCoR

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Dr. Carol Davis is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She helped establish Turtle Mountain Community College in the early 1970’s and served as an administrator at the college for seventeen years. She received a doctorate in 2000 from Walden University. She currently works for North Dakota EPSCoR as the Tribal College Liaison. In that position, she is helping to create a pathway for American Indian high school and tribal college students into STEM careers through STEM camps and Sunday Academies. She also supports the ND EPSCoR/Tribal College research capacity building effort at the five North Dakota Tribal Colleges. She is on the Sisseton Wahpeton College Advisory Committee for their Tribal College and University Program grant funded by NSF. She also served on the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) advisory committee that developed the Indigenous Evaluation Framework published in 2009 and is often called upon by AIHEC to present at their STEM workshops. She still resides with her husband on the Turtle Mountain Reservation where she enjoys spending time with her family, especially her fourteen grandchildren.

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A Tribal College-University Collaborative Model for Tribal College student Research MentoringNorth Dakota’s five tribal colleges and two research universities have been working together to establishsmooth pathways and seamless transitions for Native American students who aspire to seek highereducation degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by (1) creating a strongalliance between the universities and the state’s tribal colleges; (2) implementing an initiative ofresearch capacity building in tribal colleges that will engage tribal college faculty and baccalaureateanticipatory STEM majors in basic scientific research; and (3) engaging tribal college students in researchusing a tribal college-university collaborative model for research mentoring. Recent educationalresearch has shown that students who engage in research projects are more likely to enroll in andcomplete STEM degree programs when compared to other students. Increased understanding of theresearch process, a shift from passive to active learning, enhanced research and laboratory skills, andincreased understanding and interest in the discipline are some of the benefits undergraduate studentsgain by engaging in research. Therefore, “engaging the students in research” is adopted here as a majorstrategy to improve their retention in STEM programs. Faculty involvement in research mentoring notonly leads to their enrichment as teachers but also enriches them as scholars. Though the responsibilityof the tribal college (TC) faculty is primarily teaching, engaging in research and developing researchproject situations for students, research provides them opportunities to enhance their teachingcapability and professional development. In this collaborative model, university and tribal college facultyco-mentor tribal college students on STEM research projects. One or two tribal college students workwith a TC mentor and a university mentor. Students do research on their respective campuses duringthe academic year. The interaction of the university professor with the TC student and mentor is mainlyover the telephone or with an occasional travel to campuses. The expectations are that the universityand tribal college faculty members will help students develop the appropriate research questions(hypotheses) and will advise on techniques/methods of investigation, design of experiments, analyzedata, draw appropriate conclusions, prepare presentations and report their findings. Imparting researchskills is the emphasis of the collaborative research mentoring model and not necessarily discoveryresearch. The collaborative model also creates a sound research platform between tribal colleges anduniversities. This paper will discuss the experience of the authors with this mentoring model from itsconception, implementation, impacts, short-comings, successes, and finally the lessons learned.

Padmanabhan, G., & Davis, C. (2011, June), Collaborative Research-Mentoring for Tribal College Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17616

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