June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1059.1 - 12.1059.20
Mentoring of Graduate Students in STEM: Perceptions and Outcomes Abstract
A significant literature points to the importance of mentoring to ensure individuals’ professional success. Although some research indicates that mentoring is critical to ensure the success of graduate students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, little else is known about mentoring within academic settings. Since 1998, the University of Washington’s Center for Workforce Development (CWD) has provided a mentoring program specifically for STEM graduate students. The mentoring program is unique in the amount of data that it collects about the participants in order to better understand the mentoring program’s effects on retention and career outcomes. This paper discusses the evaluation and tracking of mentoring program participants and the findings of this assessment. Graduate students report both psychosocial and instrumental benefits from their mentoring relationships. In addition, most program participants complete their intended degree and continue to work in their field of study.
Mentoring of graduate students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is one of the most effective ways to ensure student success1-4. The University of Washington’s Center for Workforce Development (CWD), formerly Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), developed a mentoring program for STEM female graduate students interested in faculty careers in the 1990’s. Subsequently, the mentoring program has evolved to reach out to underrepresented minorities interested in faculty careers and to all graduate students interested in careers in the field of nanotechnology. Students are matched with a faculty or industry mentor, based on their needs and interests. The program focuses on both the psychosocial and instrumental career development needs of graduate students. During the 2005-2006 academic year, the mentoring program served a total of 59 graduate students in 18 STEM departments, including Mechanical Engineering, Biology, Electrical Engineering, and Chemistry. Since its inception, CWD’s mentoring program has served more than 180 students across science and engineering disciplines. Among the goals of the mentoring program are to provide students with personal and career guidance and to increase the retention of graduate students in STEM fields, particularly among women and students of color.
This graduate STEM mentoring program is unique in the amount of data that it collects for assessment. To evaluate whether the program is achieving its goals, CWD mentoring program staff collect data in three ways – through an annual evaluation, use of the university’s student database, and a longitudinal tracking assessment. The annual evaluation has been an assessment fixture of the program since the mentoring program began in 1998. It asks participants questions about the frequency and type of contact between mentors and mentees, questions related to perceived impacts on retention and career planning, as well as others ways participants feel the program may have benefited them. The university’s student database is used to follow the degree progress of mentoring students. The student database allows program staff to collect accurate enrollment data about graduate students. Additionally, it allows program staff to look at
Wheeless, A., & Blaser, B., & Litzler, E. (2007, June), Mentoring Of Graduate Students In Stem: Perceptions And Outcomes Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2603
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