Paper: Using Qualitative Techniques to Understand the Types of Undergraduate Research Mentorship
Mentoring is a beneficial way to gain additional knowledge and understanding that is not always present in a traditional classroom. Specifically related to undergraduate research, understanding the ways that a mentor could aid in a student’s learning could benefit the way undergraduate research experiences are structured. Past research suggests that programs are being put into place to provide students with a direct mentoring experience because of its ability to increase educational success. A greater understanding of how a student benefits from receiving such mentorship in undergraduate research could help structure new emerging experiences focused on mentoring. The purpose of this research is to identify the different types of mentorship received during an undergraduate research experience.
Eight interviews were analyzed for this work from a set of 24 available from a larger project focused on undergraduate research experiences. The interviews were coded using a codebook that was created about mentoring. A broad set of codes were initially applied to the interview transcripts that indicated a presence of mentorship. This was followed by the application of a more specific set of codes which described the type of mentoring present and how it affected the participant. The coded elements of the interviews were extracted and analyzed for themes and trends through memos. Memos were created for each participant to showcase their unique stories related to mentorship and to demonstrate connections between the different participants. To further aid the analysis, a concept map was also made for each participant to capture the types of mentoring experiences described in the interviews. Conclusions were drawn based on the created memos and concepts that were applicable to most participants. Finally, a visualization in the form of a 3D image was made to capture a student’s overall undergraduate research mentorship experience which highlights the various forms of mentorship they may experience.
Following the analysis, three types of mentoring emerged: individual mentoring, peer mentoring, and faculty/PI mentoring. The analyzed interviews showcased a presence of at least one of these sectors of mentoring for each participant with some participants experiencing multiple forms of mentorship. Based on the data, a profound presence of one type of mentorship benefitted a student’s educational and research experience, yet guarded them from the other mentoring opportunities. A presence of each type of mentorship showcased a well-rounded research experience that positively impacted the participant.
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