June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Minorities in Engineering
26.887.1 - 26.887.14
Value of Mentoring and Focused Enrichment Activities in Facilitating Persistence and Academic Careers among Underrepresented STEM Doctoral StudentsWhile much national attention has been focused on increasing the participation ofunderrepresented minorities (URMs) in the STEM fields, considerable gaps remain in terms ofeducational attainment between URMs and other racial/ethnic groups. Differences areparticularly stark at the doctoral levels, where underrepresented minorities accounted for only3.3% of STEM PhDs awarded in 2005 (National Science Foundation, 2011). A recentlongitudinal study of minority PhDs in STEM disciplines found that long-term academic success(i.e., placement and tenure for URM faculty members) requires long-term development bothwithin and beyond graduate school. Such training must include multi-faceted professionaldevelopment (e.g., grant writing, public speaking, and publishing research), as well as socialdynamics such as networking within the STEM community (MacLachlan, 2006). The NationalScience Foundation (NSF) has responded to these challenges with the Alliances for GraduateEducation and the Professoriate (AGEP) program. AGEP seeks to increase the number ofunderrepresented students receiving doctoral degrees in STEM disciplines—with particularattention upon increasing the number who will enter the professoriate in these disciplines andserve as mentors to promising minority scholars in the educational pipeline.This paper seeks to examine the longitudinal impact of one such program at a large engineeringschool in the Southeast. The program Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Science(FACES) was designed to provide a set of co-curricular enrichment activities that foster thenecessary mentoring of underrepresented minorities. The research design utilized a survey ofalumni (who graduated between 2003 and 2011), and it measured their employment outcomesand perceptions of career preparation. Utilizing parametric (ANOVA) and non-parametricstatistical methods, participants in the program were compared to two control groups—URMSTEM graduates who did not participate in the mentorship program and non-URM STEMgraduates. The research questions of interest: 1) Are doctoral recipients who participated in the FACES program more likely to gain employment in academia? 2) Are there differences in self-reported professional skills for former FACES fellows when compared to other URM doctoral recipients as well as to non-URM PhDs?Results demonstrate that FACES participants were over 2.5 times more likely to report workingin a faculty or academic professional position than were the non-URM STEM graduates, andwere nearly twice as likely compared with URM graduates without the program experience.Additionally, on seven of a set of 15 knowledge, skills, and abilities items, ANOVA resultsdemonstrated higher levels of preparation for program participants. The paper will describespecific programmatic approaches that were effective in URM graduate persistence andsubsequent placement into academic (as opposed to industrial) careers.ReferencesMacLachlan, A. (2006). Developing graduate students of color for the professoriate in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education. Retrieved from: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3892k4rm.National Science Foundation. (2011). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.
Gordon, J., & Haynes, C. L., & May, G. S. (2015, June), Impact of Mentoring and Enrichment Activities on the Academic Careers of Underrepresented STEM Doctoral Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24224
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