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Impact of Mentor-Mentee Fit in Preparing Undergraduate STEM Students to Teach Engineering Technology for Elementary Students

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

STEM Issues in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Lei Xie Texas State University

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Dr. Lei Xie is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Organization, Workforce, and Leadership Studies at Texas State University.

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Malini Natarajarathinam Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Malini Natarajarathinam joined the faculty of Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University in 2007. Natarajarathinam received her Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management from The University of Alabama. She received her Bachelor of Engineering (Major: Industrial and Systems Engineering) from Anna University [Tamilnadu, India], her MS in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University, her MA in Management Science and MS in Applied Statistics from The University of Alabama. She has experience working with many industries such as automotive, chemical distribution etc. on transportation and operations management projects. She works extensively with food banks and food pantries on supply chain management and logistics focused initiatives. Her graduate and undergraduate students are integral part of her service-learning based logistics classes.

She teaches courses in strategic relationships among industrial distributors and distribution logistics. Her recent research focuses on engineering education and learning sciences with a focus on how to engage students better to prepare their minds for the future. Her other research interests include empirical studies to assess impact of good supply chain practices such as coordinated decision making in stochastic supply chains, handling supply chains during times of crisis and optimizing global supply chains on the financial health of a company. She has published her research in Journal of Business Logistics, International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management and peer-reviewed proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education.

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Bugrahan Yalvac Texas A&M University

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Bugrahan Yalvac is an associate professor of science and engineering education in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture at Texas A&M University, College Station. He received his Ph.D. in science education at the Pennsylvania State University in 2005. Prior to his current position, he worked as a learning scientist for the VaNTH Engineering Research Center at Northwestern University for three years. Yalvac’s research is in STEM education, 21st century skills, and design and evaluation of learning environments informed by the How People Learn framework.

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In this qualitative case study, we have investigated the interactions among the mentors and the mentees who have been collaboratively working to provide in-class and on-time support to the elementary level teachers as they deliver technology infused and engineering based maker activities appropriate for the elementary student’s levels. The mentees, who are the recruited undergraduate students at a Research I Institution at Southwest US, meet with the mentors weekly over the semester to receive training on how to teach engineering to the elementary school student. The case under investigation is the weekly training sessions and their impact on mentees’ approaches to and their self-efficacy in teaching. In this paper we posed two research questions: “(1) How did the mentees’ approaches to teaching evolve over the course of the semester as they participated in the weekly training sessions?” and “(2) What was the impact of the person-environment (P-E) fit among the mentors and the mentees on the mentees’ self-efficacy in teaching engineering content to the elementary students?” The mentors are graduate students and faculty members at the university. Their teaching foci have diverged as some focused on teaching the technical knowledge and some have focused on teaching the pedagogical knowledge. The mentees’ educational background, majors at the university, and previous teaching/tutoring experiences and interactions with elementary students also differ. It is likely that the mentees will response differently to the varying types of mentors because of their varied interests and expertise and thus their self-efficacy in teaching will also be affected by the interactions with their mentors. While the extant literature has addressed the significant outcome of mentees’ self-efficacy in teaching (Caprara, Barbaranelli, Steca, & Malone, 2006; Schiefele & Schaffner, 2015; Yoon, 2002), how the relationship between mentees and their mentors influence mentees’ self-efficacy is less researched, especially from the person-environment (P-E) fit perspective. P-E fit perspective is a continuous process that both parties (i.e., mentors and mentees) compare their personalities and experiences (Rounds & Tracey, 1990). For example, mentees who are specialists in computer programming but struggling with class management may find an experienced mentor, who is excellent at teaching more beneficial. However, if the reciprocal and ongoing P-E fit process in the intimate mentor-mentee relationship is misaligned, the mentorship outcome is most likely to be dreadful (Rounds & Tracey, 1990). Ergo, the fit between mentors and mentees may influence mentees’ self-efficacy in teaching engineering content to the elementary students. The main contribution of this study lies in examining mentorship from a P-E fit perspective in the context of teaching elementary students engineering content. We zero in on the mentor-mentee relationship from a P-E fit perspective, exploring the predictors of a successful mentorship that increases mentees’ self-efficacy. We will interview six mentees using a semi-structured interview protocol as they are receiving the training to teach the elementary level. We will audio record the interview conversations and then transcribe them verbatim. We will use thematic narrative analysis to examine the personal experiences shared by each participant about their mentorship and how this mentor-mentee relationship affects their self-efficacy in teaching (Sandelowski, 1991). We will also conduct observations at the classrooms the mentees help teach the engineering content. Mentees will be asked to write journals after each of their classroom participation. The journals will be analyzed and used as data source to gain insights among the differences between the mentees with high self-efficacy versus low self-efficacy in teaching..

Xie, L., & Natarajarathinam, M., & Yalvac, B. (2020, June), Impact of Mentor-Mentee Fit in Preparing Undergraduate STEM Students to Teach Engineering Technology for Elementary Students Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34755

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