Building Underrepresented Minority Women’s Self-Efficacy and Persistence Through STEM e-Mentor Training

Concurrent Session 1

Brief Abstract

The limited number of underrepresented minority women persisting in STEM degree programs and pursuing STEM careers is concerning. Exploring avenues like e-mentor training that can build women’s STEM self-efficacy and persistence is critical. Join us for a discussion of research-based components to consider when developing STEM e-mentor training programs.


Dr. Katie Sharpe is an instructional designer with a background in both education and research. Katie currently supports faculty with the design, development, and delivery of both online and on-ground courses. Her focus is on maintaining a high level of instructional impact by incorporating best practices in instructional design and creating positive learning experiences for students and faculty. As such, her research explores potential avenues to increasing students' educational experiences.
Dr. Rockinson-Szapkiw has a B.A. in Elementary Education, M.A. in Counseling, Ed.D. in Distance Education with a focus on instructional design and technology in higher education and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. She is currently an Associate Professor within an instructional design and technology program at the University of Memphis and coordinates the EdD program. Dr. Rockinson-Szapkiw has authored and co-authored more than three dozen peer-reviewed journal articles and presented and co-presented over 50 professional presentations nationally and internationally, with scholarship primarily focusing on distance education and technology integration in the higher education classroom to improve national and international student success, namely persistence.
Dr. Jillian L. Wendt serves as Associate Professor of Science Education in the Division of Education, Health, and Social Work, College of Arts & Sciences at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) in Washington, DC. In addition to researching, leading grant projects, and teaching at UDC, Dr. Wendt serves an active role in the broader education community. You will often find her volunteering for professional organizations, providing professional development opportunities, and partnering with education boards and institutions locally and nationally. Dr. Wendt’s work has been recognized through receipt of the Association of Teacher Educators Robert Stevenson Scholarship, the Scholar of Promise Award for the College of Arts and Sciences at UDC, and the Accomplishment in Research/Scholarship Award for the College of Arts and Sciences at UDC, among other accolades. Dr. Wendt’s areas of expertise and research interests include technology in education, science education, STEM education, and teacher preparation.

Extended Abstract

The limited number of women persisting in STEM degree programs and pursuing STEM careers is concerning, particularly when one considers the absence of underrepresented minority women in this field and the gender gap this has created (Stoeger, Duan, Schirner, Greindl, & Ziegler, 2013; Else-Quest, Hyde, & Linn, 2010). One way of addressing this issue is to explore avenues that build women’s STEM self-efficacy and persistence.  Providing connections with other more experienced underrepresented minority women in STEM through e-mentor training is one approach that could give women the support and experience they need to feel confident in their ability to succeed in STEM programs and fields.

Research shows there are numerous benefits for mentees through mentorship (Argente-Linarez, Pérez-López, & Ordóñez-Solana, 2016; Baier, Markman, Pernica-Duca, 2016; Chizhik, Chizhik, Close, & Gallego, 2018; Dennehy & Dasgupta, 2017; Estrada, Hernandez, and Schultz, 2018) and that highly qualified and competent mentors are a key component in the mentoring process (Galibrath & Cohen, 1995; Gandhi & Johnson, 2016). But, there are many lingering questions about the benefits of mentorship for mentors, particularly with regard to mentor training (Gandhi & Johnson, 2016; Pfund, House, Asquith, Fleming, & Buhr, 2014). Are there benefits for mentors who invest in enhancing their mentorship skills? What does quality mentorship look like and why are mentors so important for underrepresented minority women? How do institutions provide training opportunities to incredibly busy student mentors who are often balancing the needs of school, work, and family life? What elements of mentor training are most important for underrepresented minority women? And most importantly, what research is available to guide the development of this important work?

In this session, results from a recently conducted multi-site qualitative case study exploring how self-efficacy and persistence could be facilitated through e-mentor training will be shared and discussed. Four themes were identified and provided insight into elements of e-mentoring training that contributed to changes in self-efficacy and intent to persist, including: (1) the training’s structure and content, (2) the opportunity to reflect, (3) connecting with others, and (4) empowerment and motivation. The findings of this study are important as they provide much-needed insight regarding the influence of e-mentoring training in the areas of self-efficacy and persistence for underrepresented minority women serving as mentors while enrolled in STEM degree programs.

Given ongoing initiatives to support equitable participation of women and minorities in STEM and the literature that supports the positive benefits of peer mentorship relationships in general, understanding the impact of mentor training is needed (National Institute of Health, 2011; Pon-Barry, Packard, & St. John, 2017). This session may be particularly useful to attendees who are pursuing work related to building self-efficacy and persistence in various contexts or with additional minority populations.


  1. Welcome and Introduction (5 minutes)

  2. Context (5 minutes)

  3. Demonstration of and Opportunity to Interact with Actual Training Modules (15 minutes)

  4. Interactive Discussion of Training Strategies (10 minutes)

  5. Large Group Q&A (10 minutes)

Session Goals:

Individuals attending this educational session will be able to describe strategies to consider when designing, developing, and delivering e-mentor training programs to increase self-efficacy and persistence for underrepresented minority women in higher education STEM programs. Participants will also be able to articulate the importance of providing underrepresented minority women in STEM programs with adequate supports designed specifically around their needs.

Participants will have access to the following materials during the presentation:

  • Presentation slides

  • Access to demo the e-mentor training

  • Poll Everywhere link for Q&A


Argente-Linares, E., Pérez-López, M. C., & Ordóñez-Solana, C. (2016). Practical experience of blended mentoring in higher education. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 24(5), 399-414. doi:10.1080/13611267.2016.1273449

Baier, S. T., Markman, B. S., & Pernice-Duca, F. M. (2016). Intent to persist in college freshmen: The role of self-efficacy and mentorship. Journal of College Student Development, 57(5), 614-619. doi:10.1353/csd.2016.005

Chizhik, E., Chizhik, A., Close, C., & Gallego, M. (2018). Developing student teachers’ teaching self-efficacy through shared mentoring in learning environments (SMILE). International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education. doi:10.1108/IJMCE-02-2017-0014

Dennehy, T. C., & Dasgupta, N. (2017). Female peer mentors early in college increase women’s positive academic experiences and retention in engineering. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(23), 5964-5969. doi:10.1073/pnas.1613117114

Else-Quest, N. M., Hyde, J. S., & Linn, M. C. (2010). Cross-national patterns of gender differences in mathematics: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136(1), 103–127. http://

Estrada, M., Hernandez, P. R., & Schultz, P. W. (2018). A longitudinal study of how quality mentorship and research experience integrate underrepresented minorities into STEM careers. CBE Life Sciences Education, 17(1) doi:10.1187/cbe.17-04-0066

Galbraith, M. W., & Cohen, N. H. (1995). Mentoring: New strategies and challenges. New Directions for Adults and Continuing Education, 66, 1-95. Josey-Bass Inc. Gannon, S., & Davies, B. (2012). Postmodern, poststructural, and critical theories. In S.J. Nagy Hesse-Biber (Ed.), Handbook of feminist research theory and praxis (pp. 71-103). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gandhi, M., & Johnson, M. (2016). Creating more effective mentors: Mentoring the mentor. AIDS and Behavior, 20(S2), 294-303. 10.1007/s10461-016-1364-3 Retrieved from

National Institute of Health. (2011). Investing in the future: Strategic plan for biomedical and behavior research training. National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Pfund, C., House, S. C., Asquith, P., Fleming, M. F., Buhr, K. A., Burnham, E. L., . . . Sorkness, C. A. (2014). Training mentors of clinical and translational research scholars: A randomized controlled trial. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 89(5), 774-782. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000000218

Pon-Barry, H., Packard, B. W., & St. John, A. (2017). Expanding capacity and promoting inclusion in introductory computer science: A focus on near-peer mentor preparation and code review. Computer Science Education, 27(1), 54-77. doi:10.1080/08993408.2017.1333270

Stoeger, H., Duan, X., Schirner, S., Greindl, T., & Ziegler, A. (2013). The effectiveness of a one-year online mentoring program for girls in STEM. Computers & Education, 69, 408-418. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.032