Posted by eporter on December 19, 2023
STEM Mentors and Mentoring Program Staff Report Satisfaction with New Mentor Training Course
The number of youth who are pursuing higher education or careers in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) has declined rapidly in recent years. In addition, girls, youth with disabilities, youth from low-income families, youth who are or will be first-generation college students, youth who are immigrants or refugees, and youth from ethnic or racial minority groups are underrepresented in STEM fields. Many STEM mentoring programs have been established to address the national shortage of youth pursuing futures in STEM. By providing youth with opportunities to create a meaningful relationship with a supportive adult and explore their interests in STEM subjects, these mentoring programs may help engage, recruit, and retain youth of diverse races, abilities, and backgrounds in STEM.
In order to foster mentee interest, excitement, self-efficacy, and a sense of belonging in STEM, STEM mentors must be equipped with skills to build an impactful relationship with a mentee and support youth who may be underrepresented in STEM. Mentoring Central developed an engaging, multimedia eLearning course, Building the Foundation for STEM Mentors, to teach new mentors the importance of STEM mentoring and ways to support their mentees’ STEM education and career goals. In order for mentees to feel comfortable exploring their interests in a mentoring program, they must establish feelings of trust in their mentor.
Building the Foundation for STEM Mentors provides mentors with knowledge about the roles of mentors and boundaries in a mentoring relationship, skills to prepare for their first meeting with their mentee, and healthy expectations for mentoring, so they can establish a close, trusting relationship with their mentee. In addition, when mentees who are underrepresented in STEM feel supported by a caring adult as they face daily challenges, they may be more likely to continue pursuing a future in STEM. Building the Foundation for STEM Mentors provides mentors with strategies to support mentees who may have experienced, or may in the future experience, microaggressions in their STEM education or careers. The course helps new mentors gain awareness of their own cultural background and deepen their understanding of how their mentee’s culture may impact their mentoring relationship.
Mentoring Central conducted a Feasibility Study with 20 STEM mentors and nine STEM mentoring program staff to evaluate the feasibility of the new mentor training course. After completing the Building the Foundation for STEM Mentors course, staff and mentors completed a post-training survey to report their experiences with the training. Both mentors and staff ranked the overall usefulness of the course, quality of information in the course, and user interface of the course highly. In addition, participants reported high overall satisfaction with the training.
A new and exciting feature of iRT’s learning management system (LMS), eTrove, is that mentoring program staff members will have the option to select which lessons to include in their volunteer mentors’ training to create their own customized course that is best suited for their program. Mentoring programs can upload their own videos, animations, and documents, such as a program-specific mentor application form, welcome letter, or booklet of activity ideas or instructions, to eTrove and insert them into their custom course. Mentoring Central conducted a Usability Study to assess these new customization features for optimal usability. Program staff members rated the overall usefulness and usability of the customization functionality highly.
Mentoring Central continues to strive to develop mentoring training programs and resources of the highest quality to meet the needs of mentees, mentors, and staff in your mentoring program. Our team of mentoring experts will use these study findings to continue enhancing our cutting-edge mentor training courses, such as Building the Foundation for STEM Mentors, and developing new resources to help your mentoring program achieve its goals.
Interested in offering the highly-rated Building the Foundation for STEM Mentors training course to your mentors? Visit our website to get started.