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Insights Gleaned from The GAIN Peer-Mentoring Program Pilot

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 4

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Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Natalie Schaal Loyola Marymount University Orcid 16x16

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Natalie Schaal is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). After receiving her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Portland, in Oregon, she spent a year in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, conducting damage detection research at the University of Stuttgart. She received her Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in Mechanical Engineering. Afterwards, she spent three years as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), in Los Angeles, CA. Her research efforts span a variety of interdisciplinary projects within solid mechanics, geophysics, and engineering education. Dr. Schaal's activities within engineering education research focus on exploring engineering identity as well as developing, implementing, and assessing the effectiveness of educational interventions that support student persistence in STEM.

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Spencer Edwin Chan Loyola Marymount University

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Spencer Chan is an undergraduate student at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He is an activist for better understanding the underlying reasons that lead to student success. In addition to engineering education research, he was also involved in research under Dr. Omar Es-Said at LMU to improve the mechanical properties of MGAz31-B through cold rolling and heat treatments.

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Julian K. Saint Clair Loyola Marymount University

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Julian K. Saint Clair is an associate professor of marketing and academic program director of the MBA at Loyola Marymount University. After earning a B.A. in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Clark Atlanta University, Professor Saint Clair attended University of Washington where he earned an M.S. in business administration and a Ph.D. in marketing with a concentration in consumer psychology. An expert in branding and advertising, his primary research focus is on marketplace equity as studied through the lens of consumer identity and learning. His interdisciplinary, multi-method approach has led to publications in Marketing Science, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Education, and the Association for Consumer Research (ACR) Film Festival. An American Marketing Association (AMA) - Sheth Consortium Fellow, Professor Saint Clair has been recognized for academic excellence by the Ph.D. Project, AMA Foundation, and National Black MBA Association. In 2020, Saint Clair and his co-authors received the ACR Best Working Paper award for their study of diversity marketing.

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There is a growing collection of literature that documents the persistence problem in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines, which is especially significant for students who belong to minority groups. The GAIN (Guide, Advance, Interact, Network) peer-mentoring program was created for undergraduate students pursuing mechanical engineering at Loyola Marymount University, as one step forward in combating this issue. The intent of this in-person program was to increase students’ motivation to persist towards their STEM degree primarily by strengthening their belongingness to engineering. In this study, initial data from the prematurely ended Spring 2020 pilot of the program (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) is analyzed with the intention of contributing to the body of knowledge on best practices in developing supportive resources for engineering students. In particular, qualitative and quantitative analyses are performed on the responses to highlighted questions from two surveys. These efforts uncover insights into what criteria students feel are most important in matching them with a mentee or mentor, what types of challenges they have faced in college, and what they hope to get out of the mentoring relationship. Demographic data was also collected to allow for the exploration of any differences in student responses based on personal information, such as ethnicity, gender, and academic class standing. These results are used to inform the improvement and redesign of GAIN to be effective in a virtual setting. Furthermore, this paper highlights the importance of building multidisciplinary teams to strengthen the recruitment and impact of out-of-class educational interventions.

Schaal, N., & Chan, S. E., & Saint Clair, J. K. (2021, July), Insights Gleaned from The GAIN Peer-Mentoring Program Pilot Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37346

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