Examining the Value of Mentoring in Youth Engineering Programs: What Motivates a Mentor to Mentor?
The purpose of this research study is to examine the motivations of undergraduate students, graduate students, and teaching professionals to serve as mentors for elementary school-aged kids participating in the Summer Engineering Experiences for Kids (SEEK) program hosted by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Data collection was conducted through semi-structured interviews (n=25), which we analyzed using a two-pronged approach: 1) through attribute coding, we identified demographic information, and 2) through value coding, we identified the participant motivations for mentoring, which enabled us to identify the value attributed to the mentoring experience and thus each participant’s rationale for participating in the mentoring experiences. The themes that emerged from this analysis were mentors valuing their roles as influencers for the younger generation, mentors’ enjoyment in teaching and sharing their interest in science, and the belief that their roles in the camp enhanced their professional opportunities.
The results of this study contribute to the literature on mentor motivation and provide empirical evidence for educators and administrators who aim to incentivize mentor engagement. knowledgeable and experienced advisers, mentors are touted as vital agents in professional and educational development. Mentors are also essential to the recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented races, ethnicities, and genders [2,3,4,5,6]. As a result, much of what we know regarding mentor/mentee relationships in youth engineering programs center on the impact these relationships have on the youth who engage in them [2, 7, 8, 9, 10]. More recent empirical work, however, has focused on the reported academic and interpersonal growth for mentors of youth engineering programs [11, 12]. While the engineering education community’s understanding of what mentors gain from these experiences continues to grow, there is still much to learn about what draws mentors to these roles in the first place [3, 13]. Thus, to explore these experiences, we sought to answer the following research question: