Enhancing STEM Identity through E-Mentoring Experiences
This project studies the effects of e-mentoring (online mentoring) on underrepresented student mentors and underrepresented high school students living in rural areas.
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase students' motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by preparing and interesting high achieving middle school students for advanced math courses in high school and eventually in engineering careers. This project is a partnership between the College of Education, the Math, Science and Education Network Pre-College Program, the Minority Engineering Program, and Technology and Engineering Education, all at NC State University, as well as four school districts in high poverty rural areas of North Carolina. This project addresses an important national concern of strengthening and diversifying the scientific workforce. This project could have significance by providing a transformative model that can potentially enhance STEM learning and engagement for underrepresented students living in rural areas of the U.S., thus greatly improving their chances for upward mobility. The project studies the effects of e-mentoring (online mentoring) on underrepresented student mentors and underrepresented high school students living in rural areas. The mentoring model and tools developed have the potential to impact all students, further contributing to the capability and diversity of future STEM professionals.
The goal of the project is to develop and iteratively test an e-mentoring program for underrepresented high school students living in rural North Carolina that will engage them in engineering-related experiences supported by near-peer relationships with mentors of similar background, race, gender, and experiences, to improve students' attitudes about and participation in STEM. This project will employ a research-based mentoring model facilitated using mobile and web-based software technology. This three-year project will iteratively design, implement, and study the e-mentoring program by matching 100 underrepresented rural students with college engineering majors from the Minority Engineering Program and Technology and Engineering Education at NC State. Both high school students and student mentors participating in the program will benefit from a connection to the broader STEM community that will allow them to envision pathways to STEM careers. This project will report on factors that facilitate successful implementation of the e-mentoring experience, examine the potential promise of the e-mentoring experience for participating students, and determine factors that may moderate the potential of the e-mentoring program. By matching underrepresented students with near-peer mentors of similar background, experience, and interests, it is expected that mentees will improve in their self-efficacy and value for STEM, and their STEM intentions, enrollment, and persistence. The methods and approaches used for applying strategies of successful mentorship programs will leverage digital tools and an inverted classroom to enhance STEM learning and the mentoring experience. The project has the potential to expand upon the capacity of traditional mentoring and develop new avenues through which to enhance STEM identity, 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.