June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.402.1 - 12.402.13
Contextual Factors Affecting Graduate Student Mentoring
Lisa M. Frehill1, Amanda Lain2, Ricardo Jacquez3, Karen Luces3, and Lauren Ketcham4 1 Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology/2Lain Evaluation Research/3New Mexico State University / 4New Mexico Public Interest Research Group
Abstract—The numbers of students pursuing graduate education at the master’s level has increased nearly four-fold since 1966. In engineering, the number climbed from 13,705 masters degrees and 2,301 doctoral degrees awarded in 1966 to 33,872 masters and 5,776 doctoral degrees awarded in 2004. Women and under-represented minorities’ (URM) share of engineering doctoral degrees have increased but members of these groups are still underrepresented at the doctoral level. This paper uses draw evidence about 24 faculty members’ retrospective views of mentoring experiences from semi-structured qualitative interviews. Case study analysis of data about 24 URM student participants in a targeted program that seeks to increase the number of minorities who receive Ph.D.s in engineering provide information about recent graduates’ mentoring experiences. The paper discusses findings and suggestions for how engineering faculty can provide high-quality mentoring to students within the larger social context of demographic change in graduate-level engineering education.
Introduction The numbers of students pursuing graduate education at the master’s level has increased nearly four-fold since 1966. In engineering, the number climbed from 13,705 master’s degrees and 2,301 doctoral degrees awarded in 1966 to 33,872 master’s and 5,776 doctoral degrees awarded in 2004. While temporary residents’ share of doctoral degrees in engineering has increased dramatically (in 2004 temporary residents accounted for 57% of engineering Ph.D.s), women and under-represented minorities’ (URM) share of engineering doctoral degrees also increased: women earned 17.6% while URMs earned 3.2% of engineering Ph.Ds. Data showing the increasing diversity of U.S. master’s and doctoral recipients of engineering degrees are shown in Table 1.
As shown by the data presented in Table 1, graduate education in engineering has undergone substantial structural changes: the numbers of degrees earned per year has increased while the diversity of students has undergone dramatic changes over the past 25-30 years. This increasing diversity poses special challenges for faculty who may need to moderate conflicts among groups of students with various demographic characteristics. Furthermore, engineering faculty have experienced pressure to generate more funds via grants and contracts and time demands have become increasingly acute for engineering faculty.
The role of the faculty advisor in graduate school is more expansive: rather than merely assisting the student in maintaining her or his sequence of classes towards graduation, the graduate advisor ideally serves more as a “mentor” with both the instrumental function of advisement as well as the psychosocial functions in what is often described as more “family-like” relationship. Additionally, graduate education is meant to provide students with an opportunity to learn first-
Frehill, L., & Lain, A., & Jacquez, R., & Ketcham, L., & Luces, K. (2007, June), Contextual Factors Affecting Graduate Student Mentoring Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2349
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