Electronic Mentoring to Address Challenges in Engineering Graduate Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Electronic Mentoring to Address Challenges in Engineering Graduate Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio and University of Kansas will examine how electronic mentoring (e-mentoring) affects student academic, career, and mental health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an important topic particularly for faculty who are forced to continue mentoring and supporting students through computer-mediated communication technology. The study investigates the life and work challenges for engineering graduate students affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and e-mentoring attitudes, support, and practices at U.S. institutions. The research will yield important insights about e-mentoring and generate empirical data to document the differential impact of e-mentoring practices on graduate students. The research results also will shed actionable guidance about how to address the life and academic challenges of engineering graduate students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The investigators will examine four research questions: (1) What are the life and work/academic challenges of engineering faculty and graduate students affected by the COVID- 19 outbreak? (2) What are the e-mentoring attitudes, support, ad practices of engineering faculty during the COVID-19 outbreak? (3) How do engineering graduate students? perception of e-mentoring support associate with their academic, career, and mental health outcomes during the COVID-19 outbreak? and (4) To what extent do the relationships between perceived e-mentoring support and student outcomes vary by demographics, disciplines, and institutional characteristics? The conceptual model for the study was derived from the literature on faculty-student mentoring and adoption of new technologies/practices, face-to-face mentoring, and e-mentoring. The researchers will employ a multistage stratified sampling design to conduct two national online surveys using Qualtrics with faculty and students from U.S. institutions, including minority-serving institutions. Descriptive statistics will be used to analyze the survey data. By highlighting the differential e-mentoring practices and outcomes for underrepresented groups, the project will offer evidence that can inform interventions aimed at broadening participation in STEM during a crisis.

This RAPID award is made by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program in the Division of Graduate Education/Directorate of Education and Human Resources, using funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. ECR supports fundamental research focused on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development.

 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.


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Chi-Ning Chang
cnchang@ku.edu

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