Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

How Do Former Undergraduate Mentors Evaluate Their Mentoring Experience 3-Years Post-Mentoring: A Phenomenological Study

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

How Do Former Undergraduate Mentors Evaluate Their Mentoring Experience 3-Years Post-Mentoring: A Phenomenological Study

Article excerpt

This phenomenological study involves a unique, longitudinal assessment of the lived experiences of former undergraduate mentors (n=7) in light of their current experiences (i.e., career or advanced schooling). The objective of a phenomenological study is to engage in in-depth probing of a representative number of participants. Specifically, we followed up with graduates of the Nebraska STEM 4U (NE STEM 4U) intervention 3 years post-program, with the overall goal of describing the mentors' experiences using the lens of their current experiences. This type of longitudinal perspective of mentoring is greatly lacking in the current literature. At the time of the interviews, all graduates were either in a STEM career or STEM-based graduate/professional program. Three major themes emerged: Career, inspiration, and challenges. Each of these themes was further broken down into sub-themes to describe the essence of the mentoring phenomenon for these individuals. This information may be beneficial for any programs that engage undergraduate students in mentoring. Keywords: Undergraduate, Mentors, Phenomenology, NE STEM 4U

The Nebraska Science, Technology, Engineering and Math 4U (NE STEM 4U) intervention is the first to include a three-fold approach, immersing undergraduates in teaching, research, and mentoring (Cutucache, Luhr, Nelson, Grandgenett, & Tapprich, 2016). The related research questions of the program target undergraduate student learning outcomes that align with the Vision & Change (AAAS, 2011) core competencies. From most accounts, the United States is not producing enough professionals qualified in STEM to meet existing needs; additionally, new STEM graduates must have ample pre-professional preparation to make them competitive job applicants and progressively contribute to the economy within those jobs (NAS, 2010).

The growing need for qualified STEM professionals corresponds with recent advancements in science and technology that have radically changed not only the nature of science, but also the nature of STEM learning and professional fields. As outlined in the Vision & Change report, today's dynamic STEM environment requires that scientists not only understand core disciplinary concepts, but also use 21st century skills such as critical thinking, communicating, and reasoning to apply those concepts to real-life problems (AAAS, 2011). Therefore, undergraduate STEM education must adapt to ensure that students understand the core concepts and acquire the core proficiencies necessary to succeed in today's STEM occupations (Dolan, 2015). The importance of developing core professional skills is also recognized by employers, who report that many college graduates lack the 21st century skills that they need to become gainfully employed and prosper in the workplace (NRC, 2012). Therefore, it is imperative to capitalize on best practices and methods that have demonstrated retention and preparation of a well-trained future workforce.

The NE STEM 4U program incorporates several such practices, including focusing on active learning and involving undergraduate students in hands-on disciplinary practice experiences through teaching, researching, and mentoring. Based on previous studies, these methods are associated with gains in approaching scientific problems, laboratory techniques, logical thinking, personal development, and lower attrition rates (Bauer & Bennett, 2003; Eagan, Hurtado, Chang, & Garcia, 2013; Lopatto, 2004; Nagda, Gregerman, Jonides, & Hippel, 1998; NRC, 2005; Prunuske, Wilson, Walls, & Clarke, 2013). Critically, all three key features of this intervention (teaching, research, and mentoring) are rooted in theory previously recognized by the National Research Council (NRC, 2000, 2012). The theories supported by NRC reports include the recommendation of putting science learned in the classroom into practice. Through the NE STEM 4U program, undergraduates are able to take what they have learned in the classroom and translate it into active STEM lessons that are then shared with their community. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.