Effects of Mentoring Relationship Heterogeneity on Student Outcomes among NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program Participants
Effective Years: 2021-2024
Understanding mentoring relationships is critical to increasing diversity in STEM fields. Researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Utah propose to study the effects of mentor relationship mismatch on student outcomes during NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs. This project aims to employ a novel approach to studying mentoring by examining multilevel mentoring and demographics of students and the mentor team. The project aims to collect data from participating students and mentors from across the country at the end of the summer research program and during the next year to gauge outcomes related to STEM interest and persistence and intent to follow a STEM career pathway. This project aligns with the EHR Core Research program’s goal of addressing challenges in STEM interest, learning, and participation.
The project aims to address three interrelated research questions, including how mentoring relationship heterogeneity impacts short-term and mid-term student outcomes, if these effects can be moderated by interactional dynamics between mentors and mentees, and how mentoring relationship heterogeneity impacts educational, research, and career goals immediately after the REU experience and after one year. Mentoring Relationship Heterogeneity in Context provides a conceptual framework focusing on how student mentees match with multiple mentors, including graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. The concept of programmatic heterogeneity will be used to measure the dissimilarity between students’ demographic background and the demographic composition of their REU program. Post-REU surveys collected from the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) data will be used along with a matrix analysis of semi-structure individual interview responses. Short-and mid-term student outcomes consist of immediate gains in working like a scientist, comfort with science skills, science identity, sense of clarity about career path, research productivity, persistence in STEM major, and intent to pursue graduate school. The project seeks to advance knowledge about mentoring relationships and aims to produce mentor and mentee workshops to positively impact undergraduate research students from underrepresented groups.
The project is funded by the EHR Core Research program that supports fundamental research focused on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM professional workforce development.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.