Award Number1912205
Funding AgencyNational Science Foundation
Effective Date2019-06-01
Expiration Date2021-05-31
Funding Amount$349,979

Abstract

The project is a collaborative effort among the University of the District of Columbia, Bethune-Cookman University, and the University of Memphis. It will expand the development, implementation, and evaluation of a virtual STEM peer mentorship program for underrepresented minority women (UMW) undergraduate students. The goal is to examine the efficacy of a Virtual Peer Mentoring Program in developing culturally responsive mentorship leadership skills, STEM self-efficacy, and science identities among UMW students. In this project, graduate and senior-level undergraduate students will use a systematic process to mentor a group of freshman, sophomore, and junior undergraduate students in a virtual environment. Prior to engaging in the virtual mentoring relationship, mentors and mentees will be trained using case-based virtual training modules to socialize the mentors and mentees to the mentoring relationship and build skills in leadership, mentoring, and cultural responsiveness. The project will extend current research by identifying effective types of mentoring relationships and modes for these relationships in STEM degree programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and for underrepresented minority women students in general. It is expected to document the effectiveness of an intervention to increase STEM persistence for UMW undergraduate students.

The overarching framework for the study combines persistence, self-efficacy, identity, and mentoring research theories. A multiphase mixed-method research approach will be used to answer the following research questions: (1) After participating in the virtual mentorship training, what changes, if any, do student mentors and mentees self-report in their STEM mentorship, leadership, and cultural responsiveness skills? (2) After participating in the Virtual STEM Peer Mentorship Program, what changes, if any, do student mentors and mentees self-report in their STEM self-efficacy from pretest to posttest survey as compared to a waitlist control group? How do student mentors and mentees believe the Virtual STEM Peer Mentorship Program is useful, if at all, in furthering their STEM self-efficacy? (3) After participating in the Virtual STEM Peer Mentorship Program, what changes, if any, do student mentors and mentees self-report in their STEM identity from pretest to posttest survey as compared to a waitlist control group? How do student mentors and mentees believe the Virtual STEM Peer Mentorship Program is useful, if at all, in furthering their STEM identity? (4) How do student mentors and mentees persist, if at all, in their STEM degree program during the duration of the Virtual STEM Peer Mentorship Program? After participating in the Virtual STEM Peer Mentorship Program, how do student mentors and mentees self-report intent to persist in their STEM degree programs and pursuit of a STEM career pathway? How, if at all, were the Virtual STEM Peer Mentorship Program components effective in supporting student mentors and mentees? intent to persist in a STEM degree program and, ultimately, in their intent to pursue a STEM career pathway? The multiphase design will allow for examination of quantitative and qualitative data over time to answer the proposed research questions and assess the program objectives. This design allows for use of descriptive and randomized controlled trial designs for quantitative data collection and a case study lens for qualitative data collection. The proposed project will advance knowledge about the impact of mentoring in STEM education on persistence of UMW and produce an evidence-based strategy for student support.

This project is supported by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU-UP) program, Broadening Participation in STEM Education Research track, that focuses on the creation and investigation of new theory-driven models and innovations relevant to the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM education and the workforce.

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.