Do Mentoring Programs Make a Difference? A Qualitative Case Study on the Journey of Latino Students in a Stem Track

Juan Miguel Morata, Florida International University

Abstract

A number of studies have sought to identify factors influencing STEM students’ success in colleges and universities (Crisp et al., 2009; Excelencia, 2011; Hagedorn & Purnamasari, 2012). However, there are few qualitative studies focusing on students’ perspectives and how they make meaning of their experiences as participants in a mentoring program. ^ The main purpose of this research was to explain the perceptions of Latino students in a STEM Mentoring Program at Miami Dade College. Because this study sought to gain an in-depth understanding of how students involved in a mentoring program make meaning of their experiences, the type of qualitative research that fits this inquiry was a single case study. This study was undertaken to address these questions: (a) How do STEM students make meaning of mentorship? (b) How do STEM students construct their experiences in the Program? (c) To what extent do gender and ethnicity play a role in how students make meaning of their mentoring experiences? (d) What do students identify as important for succeeding in a mentorship program?^ The major findings of this study were: (1) For the participants, a formal mentoring programs offers various forms of academic support, but they found interpersonal support with informal mentors; (2) For the participants, in a formal mentoring program a career match between mentor and mentee is essential; (3) For the participants, the required number of meetings in a formal mentoring program was burdensome, but other required activities were important; (4) For the participants, the peer mentoring experience was important and self-fulfilling; (5) For the participants, the gender or race of the mentor was insignificant, but some believed that sharing the same cultural background made them feel more connected with their majors; and (6) For the participants, encouragement and emotional support from their families was important, but only those with college-educated parents received the academic and financial support necessary important to succeed in college; (7) For the participants, a mentoring program will be successful if there are opportunities for building community among students and faculty, but ultimately, what matters for success are the personal characteristics of students.^ This study was significant because it provided insight into what students understand are key experiences of being in a mentoring program, and it also identified the kinds of institutional support students themselves thought would help in STEM careers. This information can help institutions of higher education plan and administer effective mentoring programs in STEM or even other fields.^

Subject Area

Higher education administration|Education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Morata, Juan Miguel, "Do Mentoring Programs Make a Difference? A Qualitative Case Study on the Journey of Latino Students in a Stem Track" (2017). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10931884.
https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI10931884

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