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Mentoring African-American Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Undergraduates: An African-American STEM Mentor’s Perspective

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Shaping the Future: Structured Mentoring for Today's Diverse Engineering Student Populations

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1146.1 - 26.1146.11



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Paper Authors


Joi-Lynn Mondisa Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Joi-Lynn Mondisa is a doctoral candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Her research interests focus on examining how mentoring intervention programs promote the success of undergraduates in STEM majors and how mentoring assists in increasing the retention rates of underrepresented populations in STEM programs.

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Cordelia M. Brown Purdue University, West Lafayette


Robin Adams Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Robin S. Adams is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and holds a PhD in Education, an MS in Materials Science and Engineering, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering. She researches cross-disciplinarity ways of thinking, acting and being; design learning; and engineering education transformation.

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Mentoring African-American Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Undergraduates: An African-American STEM Mentor’s PerspectiveNational policies and educational reports call for an increase in the production of U.S. scientists andengineers by tapping into pools of underrepresented populations such as African-Americans. Toaddress the call, it is critical to examine the African-American STEM undergraduate experience andto understand how the experiences of underrepresented populations influence their decisions to gointo and persist in STEM majors. But what do we really understand about the African-AmericanSTEM college experience? What can we learn from the experiences and reflections of African-American STEM PhD mentors about the African-American college experience and how tonavigate it? In this paper, we examine the reflections and insights of an African-AmericanSTEM mentor using a narrative analysis method. This research lays a foundation for examiningthe African-American college experience to assist in increasing the number of African-Americans in STEM fields.For many minority students the transition into college can be challenging, fraught with many issuesranging from social and academic isolation, encountering negative attitudes and behavior, and fearsof fulfilling stereotypes (Snead-McDaniel, 2010; Strayhorn & Terrell, 2010). Mentoring has beenviewed as an effective deterrent to combat the isolation experienced by minority students (Allen,1992; Redmond, 1990). However, there is a paucity of research literature that specifically examinesthe mentoring experiences of African-American STEM mentors relative to their relationships withtheir African-American STEM protégés and how and why mentors are successful in mentoring theirprotégés. Crucial insights can be gained about the minority college experience and mentoring fromexamining the experiences of African-American STEM mentors who have progressed from beingcollege students to faculty and advisors who engage in mentoring relationships with African-American undergraduate protégés. One way of understanding these experiences is throughexamining the life histories and mentoring experiences of minorities (Snead-McDaniel, 2010) such asAfrican-American STEM mentors.This study examines the experiences of an African-American STEM mentor and the philosophiesused to mentor African-American STEM undergraduates. It is the first case analysis of a dissertationstudy’s target sample population of ten African-American STEM mentors. These mentors have: (1) ahistory of impacting African-American STEM undergraduate students as evidenced by theirsubstantial track records for facilitating undergraduate student success in STEM fields, (2) a historyof commitment to mentoring underrepresented minority undergraduates, and (3) national acclaimand/or peer recognition as mentoring exemplars. The study’s research questions are: (1) how doesan African-American STEM mentor in higher education assist African-American undergraduateprotégés in mentoring relationships and (2) what can we learn about how to mentor African-Americans from the undergraduate and professional experiences of an African-American STEMmentor who mentors African-American protégés in higher education? Polkinghorne’s (1995)narrative analysis method is used to analyze data and shape the dissemination of findings as apersonal narrative. This study contributes to current research by examining the role of mentoringfrom African-American STEM mentors’ perspectives to provide insights into the issues and needs ofAfrican-American STEM undergraduate students.

Mondisa, J., & Brown, C. M., & Adams, R. (2015, June), Mentoring African-American Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Undergraduates: An African-American STEM Mentor’s Perspective Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24483

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015