Mentoring for Undergraduates in STEM from Underrepresented Groups
Celina Morales, M.S., California State University, Northridge
Faculty-Student mentoring relationships in higher education are often beneficial to both faculty and students. Multiple studies have found students in higher education from underrepresented groups pursuing STEM benefit greatly from faculty mentorship. Both formal mentorship programs (i.e., intervention research programs) and informal mentorship (i.e., simply reaching out to a faculty member for advice) greatly impact student success and persistence in STEM disciplines in higher education.
- Underrepresented STEM undergraduate students who participate in mentored research are more likely to pursue graduate studies .
- Students have reported STEM mentorship has helped them with learning strategies and goal development .
- Students report faculty mentorship is valuable for harnessing STEM social capital in their respective fields and departments .
A longitudinal study assessing the long-term impact of mentorship on underrepresented minority students in STEM fields, also determined favorable outcomes . Positive STEM self-efficacy and STEM identity were associated with mentorship experiences.
Graduate students are also sometimes viewed as friends and informal mentors to undergraduate students. One study documented the positive impact of mentoring relationships between graduate students and undergraduate students . The undergraduate students reported perceiving the graduate students as relatable role models. Also, graduate students were very helpful to undergraduate students in navigating and managing university environments. This article highlights the importance of recognizing graduate students as prospective mentors.
Graduate students pursuing STEM advanced and terminal degrees also reported benefits from faculty mentorship. Hispanic graduate students are more likely to report faculty mentorship as a significant factor in their academic success . Also, mentorship during a doctoral program was positively associated with publishing research articles .
One study assessed the most important qualities Hispanic graduate students consider when choosing a mentor . This study found that males and females perceived different traits as more important than others. Females were more interested in mentors who they perceived as caring, open to listening, offering guidance/reassurance, and sharing relatable experiences to the student. Additionally, females reported collaboration, support, and friendship as important considerations when choosing a mentor. Males were more interested in mentors who they perceived as experts, knowledgeable, genuine, and trustworthy. Males also reported mentor availability and feeling challenged by the mentor important traits.
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Celina Morales is currently completing her MPH degree in Applied Epidemiology at California State University, Northridge. She earned her undergraduate degree in Public Health with a minor in Biology. Her research interests include nutrition and mental health among ethnic minority populations and immigrant populations. She has participated in various research training programs including MHIRT, MARC, and RISE. She enjoys reading about socio-cultural factors associated with Hispanic student experiences in higher education.