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Toward a Holistic View of Undergraduate Research Experiences: An Exploratory Study of Impact on Graduate/Postdoctoral Mentors ARTICLE

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Journal of Science Education and Technology Volume 18, Number 6, ISSN 1059-0145

Abstract

Involvement in research has become a fixture in undergraduate science education across the United States. Graduate and postdoctoral students are often called upon to mentor undergraduates at research universities, yet mentoring relationships in undergraduate-graduate/postdoctoral student dyads and undergraduate-graduate/postdoctoral student-faculty triads have been largely unexamined. Here, we present findings of an exploratory case study framed by relational theory that identifies the motives, gains, and challenges reported by graduate/postdoctoral students who mentored undergraduates in research. Graduate/postdoctoral mentors experienced a wide range of gains, including improved qualifications and career preparation, cognitive and socioemotional growth, improved teaching and communication skills, and greater enjoyment of their own apprenticeship experience. Notably, graduate/postdoctoral mentors reported twice as many gains as challenges, neither of which were limited by their motives for mentoring. Indeed, their motives were fairly narrow and immediate, focusing on how mentoring would serve as a means to an end, while the gains and challenges they reported indicated a longer-term vision of how mentoring influenced their personal, cognitive, and professional growth. We propose that understanding the impact of mentoring undergraduates on the education and training of graduate/postdoctoral students may uncover new ideas about the benefits reaped through undergraduate research experiences.

Citation

Dolan, E. & Johnson, D. (2009). Toward a Holistic View of Undergraduate Research Experiences: An Exploratory Study of Impact on Graduate/Postdoctoral Mentors. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(6), 487-500. Retrieved December 11, 2017 from .

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