The role of customized mentoring in a successful STEM scholarship program for underrepresented groups

Aldo Morales, Sedig Salem Agili, Sofia M. Vidalis, Linda M. Null, Jennifer Leigh Sliko

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


In 2011, STEM faculty members at Penn State Harrisburg applied and were awarded an NSF grant in order to increase the number and retain underrepresented, female, first-generation, and low-income STEM college students, due to demonstrated national and regional needs to augment these populations in higher education STEM programs. In a recent ASEE paper, the authors published the steps taken to implement a university STEM scholarship program to attain the simultaneous goals of increasing STEM enrollment and increase diversity in the STEM fields. In particular, the authors evaluated the necessity of strong and broad-based (peer, faculty, and industry) mentoring. Initial results were encouraging with regards to STEM scholarship student retention. Based on this initial work, the authors paired each first-year STEM scholar with a peer mentor in the same or a similar major, in addition to pairing every STEM scholar with a faculty mentor. After conducting a mentor/mentee training session, the peer mentoring teams met on a monthly basis throughout the semester. The authors evaluated the effectiveness of the mentoring programs through a series of pre-, mid-, and post-year assessments. The authors used a combination of assessment tools from the NSF-approved Assessing Women and Men in Engineering and the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire. These tools are designed to identify longitudinal changes in the self-efficacy of undergraduate students studying engineering. Results obtained indicate a significant improvement in metacognitive strategies, goal orientation, resource management, and academic performance. Additionally, many STEM scholars expressed interest in participating in future mentoring programs. The success of the mentoring program, coupled with Learning Center initiatives and support from the NSF STEM club, enhances the STEM experience of women and underrepresented population at Penn State Harrisburg.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Event124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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