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Quality Mentorship Matters: An Innovative Approach to Supporting Student Success in Engineering Undergraduate Research

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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

Faculty Development 3: Research, Practice, and Lessons Learned

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Faculty Development Division

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Paper Authors


Eleazar Marquez Rice University

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Eleazar Marquez is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University.

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Samuel Garcia Jr. NASA EPDC

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Dr. Samuel García Jr. is an Education Specialist at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Assistant Professor of Practice for the LBJ Institute for Education and Research. Dr. García helps facilitate professional development to both formal and informal STEM educators utilizing NASA resources with a specific focus on Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. He also works with faculty serving in Minority Serving Institutions in developing STEM educational tools and resources for teachers to implement in their classrooms. Dr. García’s research agenda is geared towards community and educational change by creating healthy, equitable, and culturally responsive learning environments for traditionally underserved populations. Dr. García. earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas Río Grande Valley, formerly University of Texas Pan American and holds a doctorate degree in School Improvement from Texas State University.

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In this research study, the authors develop a new model of mentorship for faculty members to engage and support their group of students conducting undergraduate engineering research. Research efforts attest that mentoring undergraduate students is a critical role that can dramatically enhance student academic and personal outcomes. This finding is magnified in the context of STEM related disciplines, such as engineering, where efforts to pro-actively diversify the workforce are taking shape. Yet, not every form of faculty-student mentorship is proven to be effective, particularly when faculty conceal forms of knowledge and information regarding internship/employment resources, departmental and research opportunities, curriculum alternatives, exposure to graduate school, and professional experiences that may result favorable in future career aspirations. A fundamental component to facilitating successful student career paths is correlated to an authentic form of mentorship, which exposes students to a plethora of career opportunities and prepares them to navigate postgraduate experiences. The proposed model, which was implemented over a span of four years with a total of sixteen engineering students conducting undergraduate research, identifies four key elements in the transformative process: 1) develop student-faculty relationship; 2) faculty commitment; 3) genuine desire for the mentee to succeed, and 4) willingness from faculty members to disseminate appropriate wisdom. This emerging model, termed RCDD (e.g., acronym for Relationship, Commitment, Desire, Disseminate), gives faculty members a template to advance undergraduate engineering student success through a genuine mentorship role. Results indicate that graduating students are better prepared when applying for employment or graduate school. It was also noted that the confidence level increased going into internship opportunities or full-time employment due to their undergraduate involvement in research and the guidance from the faculty advisor.  

Marquez, E., & Garcia, S. (2021, July), Quality Mentorship Matters: An Innovative Approach to Supporting Student Success in Engineering Undergraduate Research Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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