Exploring Personal, Relational, and Collective Experiences and Mentorship Connections That Enhance or Inhibit Professional Development and Career Advancement of Native American Faculty in STEM Fields: A Qualitative Study

Blakely Brown, Maja Pedersen, Jennifer Harrington, Annie Belcourt, Sweeney Windchief, Aaron Thomas, Ruth Plenty Sweetgrass She Kills, Otakuye Conroy-Ben, Erik Brodt, Karletta Chief, Serra Hoagland, Michelle Johnson-Jennings, Jordan Lewis, Kirsten Green Mink, Kathryn C.A. Milligan-Myhre, Matthew Calhoun, Angela Ozburn, Vanessa Simonds, Anne Des Rosier Grant, Salena HillKe Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Mentorship programs for Native American (NA) faculty in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields hold significant promise toward developing, recruiting, and retaining NA members of the professoriate. In 2018, a qualitative study was conducted that explored experiences, and mentoring relationships that enhanced or inhibited professional development and career advancement of NA faculty and instructors in STEM fields. The study used Indigenous Research Methodologies to coconstruct a conversational moderator’s guide aligning with Indigenous community ontology. Interview questions were developed from the existing literature and programs and the project teams’ expertise. Twenty-three NA faculty and instructors and a postdoctoral trainee in STEM fields participated in the interviews. Transcripts were coded, organized, and interpreted. Themes and subthemes were generated, which were noted for relevance to the theoretical framework. Participants described their experience working in higher education as viewed through their academic, social and cultural values, relationships, and responsibilities. Common themes included the (a) importance of peer, senior and community mentors, (b) value of oral presentation to professional development, (c) need for social connectedness and work–life balance, and (d) importance of increasing institutional knowledge about Indigenous values and research methodologies. Several themes aligned with TribalCrit, allowing for a strong critique of NA faculty mentoring by NA’s in higher education. The narratives underscore the need for institutions to deliver professional development and mentoring programs for NA faculty and for administrators to strengthen institutional supports to improve NA faculty achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Diversity in Higher Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Faculty development and retention
  • Mentoring
  • Native american
  • Stem fields
  • Tribal critical race theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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