June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Minorities in Engineering
A recent study shows that 30% of undergraduate students are successful in completing degrees in STEM fields, of those only 29% are from historically underrepresented groups. However in the past decade, the number of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in STEM fields from underrepresented groups has increased only by 3%. In order to address the significant need for the completion of degrees in STEM fields, efforts to develop effective mentoring practices have been undertaken. Mentoring has proven to be an effective mechanism for ensuring student success in STEM fields. Select mentoring programs for women, minorities, and underrepresented groups have shown significant gains in increasing the presence of students from various backgrounds in the STEM fields. Mentoring provides participants from underrepresented groups with exposure to role models, support networks, and other mechanisms that help them succeed in STEM fields. Attracting more students from underrepresented populations in to the STEM workforce will maximize innovation, creativity, and competitiveness. The present research study reviewed, characterized, and analyzed the various practices, procedures and policies of successful mentoring programs. Survey instruments were used to learn about the mentoring experiences of graduate students in STEM fields during their undergraduate matriculation, particularly if they benefited or failed to benefit from their mentor. The selection process involved in the mentoring and mentee dynamic was investigated with the survey instrument to learn about student preferences and needs in STEM fields. The participants represented diverse undergraduate majors, with most participants with a Bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. Students reported the following of their experience with their mentor(s): mentors helped with funding, setting goals, providing positive and constructive feedback on work, and being supportive of ideas while allowing the mentee to follow his/her own lead on their work. Alternatively, other students reported unmet expectations with their mentor(s), such as the following wishes: provided exposure to more industry-based tasks, helped with decision making, presented the mentee with a challenge, and provided more research opportunities. Such findings indicate that mentors can play a pivotal role in the development of students. These results also demonstrate that mentoring skills need to be improved for students to receive equal and adequate support. Findings of the present study will be used to create mentoring practices that help students in the STEM fields succeed. Eighty-four percent of participants reported having more than two mentors. This may suggest that having multiple mentors was more beneficial for students to expand on the lacking areas of one mentor to another. Additionally, 17% of participants reported having five or more mentors. This may suggest that students in STEM require more support in order to successfully complete their degrees. Results are being used for suggestions and recommendations for supportive practices that can be implemented in future mentoring programs to help underrepresented groups to successfully achieve degrees in the STEM field under the guidance of a mentor. Mentors provide students with a vision of their potential future demonstrating that mentoring practices should be structured to fully support students specifically in STEM fields facing unique barriers.
Little, G. E., & Crumpton-Young, L. L., & Brady, S. E., & Carter, T. D., & Davis, L. (2017, June), Supportive Mentoring Practices Based on Undergraduate Experiences Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28889
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