Graduate Student Perceptions of an Ideal Mentor in Engineering and Computing at a Minority-Serving Institution: Preliminary Results Conference

Guardia, LE, Kayyali, M, Strong, AC. (2021). Graduate Student Perceptions of an Ideal Mentor in Engineering and Computing at a Minority-Serving Institution: Preliminary Results .

cited authors

  • Guardia, LE; Kayyali, M; Strong, AC


  • Reports from the National Academies and Council of Graduate Schools suggest that high quality mentorship can enhance the recruitment and retention of traditionally marginalized students by providing these students with mutual and lasting relationships. We define marginalized as those individuals who have been discriminated against, ignored or misrepresented due to inequities within our systems. Most graduate programs do not have established mentorship programs, which puts significant responsibility on students to seek out informal mentorship or leading to students not having mentors beyond their research advisor. To support the design of effective mentorship structures that meet the needs of all students and their respective identities, this exploratory study examines the perceptions of mentoring and mentoring experiences of traditionally marginalized graduate students in engineering and computing. To better represent students from marginalized populations, we employed the use of Community Cultural Wealth (CCW). Contrary to typical deficit-based categorization methods, CCW focuses on the unique strengths students possess through the use of different capitals (Aspirational, Familial, Social, Linguistic, Resistance, Navigational). By implementing the CCW framework, we were able to understand how different assets of students are supported through their experiences with mentorship. This paper presents preliminary results of the quantitative section of a mixed-methods sequential exploratory study. Survey data was collected from graduate students at a Minority Serving Institution about their perceptions of mentorship and what qualities an ideal mentor should exhibit. We performed a factor analysis of the acquired survey responses, uncovering two factors that students identify with ideal mentorship: Disciplinary guidance and Value me as a person and my professional goals. These factors are mostly agreed upon by different student populations, but differ with students pursuing a Master's Thesis vs a Doctoral Degree, African Americans or Blacks vs Latin Americans, and those who view mentors as their Research Advisors vs Educators. Further analysis is necessary to fully understand the differences in perceptions by these students. Nevertheless, doing so is critical for the creation and improvement of holistic and inclusive graduate mentorship programs.

publication date

  • July 26, 2021