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Research mentoring and scientist identity: insights from undergraduates and their mentors.

  • Author(s): Robnett, Rachael D;
  • Nelson, Paul A;
  • Zurbriggen, Eileen L;
  • Crosby, Faye J;
  • Chemers, Martin M
  • et al.


Mentored research apprenticeships are a common feature of academic outreach programs that aim to promote diversity in science fields. The current study tests for links between three forms of mentoring (instrumental, socioemotional, and negative) and the degree to which undergraduates psychologically identify with science. Participants were 66 undergraduate-mentor dyads who worked together in a research apprenticeship. The undergraduate sample was predominantly composed of women, first-generation college students, and members of ethnic groups that are historically underrepresented in science.


Findings illustrated that undergraduates who reported receiving more instrumental and socioemotional mentoring were higher in scientist identity. Further, mentors who reported engaging in higher levels of negative mentoring had undergraduates with lower scientist identity. Qualitative data from undergraduates' mentors provided deeper insight into their motivation to become mentors and how they reason about conflict in their mentoring relationships.


Discussion highlights theoretical implications and details several methodological recommendations.

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