Paper No. 189-3
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
STRUCTURED MENTORING IMPROVES STUDENTS’ RETENTION AND READINESS FOR FUTURE STEM CAREERS IN THE UNDERGRADUATE ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE PROGRAM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO, A HISPANIC SERVING INSTITUTION
Quality mentoring of students, especially in highly collaborative settings, are effective for the development of students’ cognition and self-identification as scientists, for improvement their technical and professional skills, and for increasing the probability of them pursuing future careers in STEM. Studies have shown that mentoring and social interaction may be more important for underrepresented groups than others, including more structured and long-term mentoring with trusted mentor-mentee relationships. We revised the undergraduate curriculum for the environmental science program, using a pedagogical approach, active and structured mentoring at the University of Texas at El Paso. We support entering and transfer freshmen by peers within a learning community, engage students at the sophomore level in research projects by collaborating with a group of seniors, graduate students and faculty, and prepare junior and senior students for professional development and future STEM careers through summer internships and guest lectures. Thus students in the environmental science program are guided throughout their college years by a stratified mentoring team with professionals of different levels and expertise. The evaluation and assessment through surveys showed clearly that mentoring helped students grow academically and professionally and increased their retention and readiness for different career opportunities.