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STEM Engagement through Mentoring: Motivations of STEM Mentors

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Community Engagement in Diverse Contexts

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Jerrod A. Henderson University of Houston (CoE & CoT) Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jerrod A. Henderson (“Dr. J”) is an Instructional Assistant Professor in the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston. He joined the University of Houston after six years as a chemical engineering faculty member at the University of Illinois. He has dedicated his career to increasing the number of students who are in the pipeline to pursue STEM careers. He believes that exposing students to STEM early will have a lasting impact upon their lives and academic pursuits. He is the co-founder of the St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy (SEBA). SEBA is an educational intervention aimed at exposing underrepresented fourth and fifth grade boys to hands-on, inquiry based STEM experiments and activities.

Henderson is a part of the first year engineering experience team and he was recently appointed by the Dean of the College as the Director of the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES), a program aimed at increasing engineering student achievement, engagement, and graduation rates. His research interests are in engineering identity formation and persistence among underrepresented students, especially African American males. He was most recently recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine as an Inspiring STEM Leader Award recipient.

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Virginia Snodgrass Rangel University of Houston Orcid 16x16

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Virginia Snodgrass Rangel, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Houston, where she teaches courses on program evaluation, research design, and quantitative research methods. Her research interests include STEM education, re-entry of justice-involved youth, policy implementation and evaluation, and program evaluation.

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Rick P. Greer University of Houston

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Rick Greer graduated from Tuskegee University with a bachelor’s in History. He began his professional career at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned distinction as Dr. Bruce D. Nesbitt Campus-Community Collaborator Awardee in 2016. Rick is also a co-founder of St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy (SEBA). SEBA is an educational intervention aimed at exposing underrepresented 4th and 5th-grade boys to hands-on, inquiry-based STEM activities. SEBA accomplishes its goals through an innovative educational curriculum and by engaging students’ fathers and/or male mentors who learn STEM alongside them. This project has been recognized and funded by local organizations, the University of Illinois and most recently, the National Science Foundation. Currently, Rick is the Program Manager for St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy in the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston.
Further, Mr. Greer has enrolled in the Higher Education M. Ed program at the University of Houston. He has worked as a Graduate Assistant for the Urban Experience Program (UEP) in the Student Affairs Department. UEP provides opportunities for the university’s diverse student population by preventing minor obstacles from becoming major setbacks to degree attainment. Rick has always had a passion for helping students succeed at navigating the college experience. He strives to promote academic awareness, academic excellence and the development of leadership skills in students. Rick believes that anything is possible if you have faith and work hard to obtain your dreams. He believes that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”

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Mariam Manuel University of Houston

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Mariam Manuel is a graduate of the University of Houston’s teachHOUSTON program and the UTeach Engineering Master’s program at the University of Texas at Austin. In Spring 2016, Mariam returned to the University of Houston to serve as an Instructional Assistant Professor / Master Teacher for teachHOUSTON. In this role, Mariam is charged with teaching and inspiring the next generation of high-quality math and science teachers through inquiry-based instruction and ongoing field experiences. Mariam also teaches Physics 4345 (Physics for Pre-Service Teachers), a course that connects middle school physics state standards with content knowledge and instructional strategies that are designed to enhance student learning. Mariam is also the one of the writers and instructors for the Preparing for AP Physics I Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), offered through the University of Houston. The MOOC has served over 10,000 students in more than 110 different countries.

Mariam previously served as the Instructional Specialist for the Robert Shaw Center for STEAM in the Katy Independent School District (KISD). She was responsible for implementing STEAM curriculum, instruction, and projects appropriate for K-12 students. Additionally, Mariam has taught both on-level and AP Physics I (formerly known as Pre-AP Physics) and played an integral role in writing the district physics curriculum consisting of rigorous labs, activities, and projects.

Mariam fills the role of Alumni Representative on the UTeach STEM Educators Association (USEA) Board and was also elected Secretary-Treasurer. She is also currently pursuing a Ph.D. in STEM education at Texas Tech University.

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Sara Jolly Jones University of Houston

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Victoria Doan University of Houston

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The purpose of this study is to understand the experiences of undergraduate STEM majors participating as mentors in an afterschool STEM program. Drawing on social exchange theory (SET; Blau, 1968), we seek to understand why they decide to become mentors, why they persist, and how the mentoring relationship affects them.

Here we report early findings from an ongoing, three-year study of an afterschool community-based engineering intervention in which 4th and 5th grade underrepresented boys are paired with undergraduate STEM mentors who facilitate engineering design activities. Data were collected from five mentor interviews, transcribed, and analyzed using open coding (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). The transcripts were read with no a priori codes to identify emergent themes and re-read using a set of a priori codes developed based on a review of the literature. Five additional mentors for a total of 10 will be interviewed at the end of the fall 2018 semester.

Based on early findings, we see that two of the five mentors were motivated by self-enhancement (e.g., to improve their resumes and gain volunteer hours). The remaining three mentors described more complex motivations, including liking to work with kids, altruism, a sense of empathy (i.e., seeing themselves in the students), and a desire to inspire future engineers. One mentor was drawn to the mentoring program specifically because of the opportunity he would have to serve as a content expert for younger students. The findings derived from this study have implications for recruitment and engagement of undergraduate STEM majors mentors as they serve in mentorship roles for community outreach programs.

Henderson, J. A., & Snodgrass Rangel, V., & Greer, R. P., & Manuel, M., & Jones, S. J., & Doan, V. (2019, June), STEM Engagement through Mentoring: Motivations of STEM Mentors Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33284

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: © 2019 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