Mentoring is an essential element of what makes research experiences valuable for undergraduates, and yet there has been little if any systematic investigation of negative mentoring experiences in undergraduate research. This project will address this major gap in knowledge by developing a high quality survey useful for measuring negative mentoring in undergraduate research. This measure will be useful for researchers, practitioners, and institutions to study the prevalence and impact of negative mentoring in undergraduate research and ultimately improve the experiences and outcomes of undergraduate researchers.
Undergraduate research experiences have been shown to foster undergraduates’ personal and professional growth. Mentoring by more experienced scientists is an essential element of undergraduate research. Prior studies have demonstrated the value of positive mentoring in undergraduate research. However, studies of mentoring in corporate settings have shown that not all mentoring experiences are positive. In fact, as many as 50% of individuals have negative experiences with mentors and that negative mentoring can be worse than having no mentor at all. Yet there has been little if any systematic investigation of negative mentoring in undergraduate research. This projects will draw from research in organizational psychology, social psychology, and undergraduate STEM education to develop and validate of a measure of negative mentoring in undergraduate research.
This project will equip colleges, universities, and undergraduate research program directors with the tools they need to identify instances of negative mentoring in undergraduate research, determine how widespread it is, and take action to reduce or prevent it. This project will also produce tools for mentoring scholars to investigate how negative mentoring affects undergraduate researchers, including undergraduates from backgrounds that are historically under-represented or under-served, and to test interventions aimed at reducing or preventing negative mentoring and its impacts.
This project will accomplish three major goals:
These goals will be accomplished in three phases:
In the first phase, we will interview a diverse group of undergraduate life science researchers who have experienced negative mentoring and analyze their responses to define negative mentoring experiences in undergraduate research.
In the second phase, we will use these results from the first phase to draft survey items representing the range of negative mentoring experiences in undergraduate research. The draft survey will be used to collect data from a national sample of undergraduate life science researchers and analyzed to examine the internal structure of the measure and to make any needed refinements.
Finally, a second national dataset will be collected and analyzed to investigate the impact of negative mentoring experiences on undergraduate researcher outcomes.
We will communicate our results through open access publication in peer-reviewed journals, newsletters of professional societies, and presentations at conferences that attract education researchers, science researchers who mentor undergraduate researchers, and directors of undergraduate research programs. We will also communicate results in ways that will maximize impact among college and university faculty and staff who mentor undergraduate researchers and lead URE programs. Specifically, we will develop a short electronic briefing that includes an executive summary of the research, infographics depicting key findings, and guidance on how the negative mentoring measure should and should not be used given the current state of knowledge. We will disseminate this briefing to all points-of-contact who assisted with recruiting undergraduates for this study and to other stakeholders in undergraduate STEM research and mentoring. We will also announce key findings with links to publications via social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook), with special effort to target high-profile STEM education user groups.
Erin Dolan (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)
Nathan Carter (Psychology)
Lisa Limeri (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)
Social Psychology of Undergraduate STEM Education VIP Team