July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Experiences of underrepresented students within Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, & Medicine (STEMM) disciplines are impacted by structural and cultural challenges around marginalization, discrimination, tokenism, isolation and imposter syndrome. Reports from the National Academies and Council of Graduate Schools suggest high quality mentorship can enhance recruitment and retention of underrepresented students and provide these students with reciprocal and lasting relationships thus reducing these discerned challenges. Mentoring however, is a derived concept, and is often left up to the interpretation of mentors and mentees. Without a guiding structure and clear definitions, the concept of what a mentor should do has become ambiguous. In the context of graduate education, mentorship is not well-defined or supported as few programs and institutions have established formal or informal mentorship structures, beyond the advisor. The aim of this study is to examine the mentorship experiences of underrepresented graduate students in engineering and computing and understand differing perceived definitions of mentorship.
The greatest limitation in performing an in-depth exploration into underrepresented graduate students’ experiences with mentoring in such contexts is categorization. Categorization (e.g. academic, discipline, and social) decreases the significance of individual experiences, and groups them with standards that are not specific to their culture. This study employs the use of Community Cultural Wealth (CCW) framework to explore the perceptions, pathways, and impact of mentoring on engineering and computing graduate students at a top U.S. research and Minority Serving Institution (MSI). CCW is an asset-based model of human and cultural resources which considers the cultural knowledge, skills, abilities and contacts of marginalized groups that typically go unrecognized, ignored or unsung due to the use of standard categorization criteria.
This exploratory study will utilize both quantitative and qualitative measures to examine mentorship experiences between graduate students and their faculty mentors. First, a survey will be administered to active and enrolled doctoral and master’s thesis students to define the characteristics of their ideal mentor using the Ideal Mentor Scale and to better understand potential capitals experienced. The survey will also seek to understand the pathway of students’ established mentoring relationships and perceived impacts. Second, using inclusion criteria ingrained in the survey questionnaire, we will specifically examine the experiences of those students who identify as underrepresented. Using their survey responses, we will recruit faculty who students identify as mentors for interviews. The interview will focus on identifying how this mentoring relationship was formed, their perceived responsibilities as a mentor, and who they mentor. The purpose of this work-in-progress will be to discuss the details of the methodology and share preliminary results of the study. The results will provide practical implications for graduate programs as they aspire to implement mentoring programs to recruit and retain underrepresented graduate students as well as improve students’ experiences and academic outcomes. Overall, by enhancing mentoring in graduate education, programs can increase student diversity, develop student interest, and improve support in graduate education with the focus on preparing them as they transition into the workforce, whether it be as professionals in industry or faculty in academia.
Guardia, L. E., & Kayyali, M., & Strong, A. C. (2021, July), Graduate Student Perceptions of an Ideal Mentor in Engineering and Computing at a Minority-Serving Institution: Preliminary Results Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37234
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