Need: Undergraduate research experiences have been shown to foster undergraduates’ personal and professional growth; mentoring by more experienced scientists is an essential element of these experiences. However, there is growing recognition that the quality of mentoring that undergraduate researchers experience can vary. Research on negative mentoring in workplace settings suggests that negative mentoring experiences can be harmful to the personal and professional development of mentees. Further, research on positive mentoring suggests that it is especially beneficial for minoritized students, suggesting that negative mentoring or the absence of positive mentoring may be especially harmful for these groups, exacerbating inequities. These concerns highlight the need for systematic investigation of negative mentoring in undergraduate research. Guiding Questions: To address this gap, we identified and characterized the construct of negative mentoring in research. We then used findings from this work to develop the Mentoring in Undergraduate Research Survey (MURS) to measure the quality of mentoring that undergraduate researchers experience. The development process included collecting and evaluating multiple sources of validity evidence in alignment with the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. Outcomes: The outcome of the first phase of work is the definition and characterization of the construct of negative mentoring in undergraduate research. The outcome of the second phase of work is the development and initial validation of the MURS. During the first phase, we identified and described seven types of negative mentoring that undergraduate researchers experience. Based on this work, we drafted survey items and gathered feedback on the items through cognitive interviews with students and a Q-sort activity with experts. We refined items based on this feedback then administered the revised item set to a national sample of undergraduate researchers. We analyzed results using factor analysis and item response theory to illuminate the factor structure and examine the functioning of the item set. We made revisions to the item set and then administered the items to another national sample of undergraduate researchers. We also administered measures of related constructs and outcomes that have been documented for undergraduate research in order to examine the convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity of the MURS. We analyzed these data to examine how negative mentoring relates to students’ outcomes (e.g., self-efficacy, intent to persist in science) and to provide further evidence of the validity of MURS as a measure of undergraduate research mentoring. Broader Impacts: This project will equip colleges, universities, and undergraduate research program directors with a tool to identify instances of negative mentoring in undergraduate research, determine how widespread it is, and take action to reduce or prevent it. This project will also produce a tool for mentoring scholars to investigate how negative mentoring affects undergraduate researchers, including undergraduates from minoritized and under-served backgrounds, and to test interventions aimed at reducing or preventing negative mentoring and its impacts.
Riley Hess, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Trevor T. Tuma, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Alexander Morrison, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Isabelle Koscik, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Kathren Sage Royston, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Briana Outlaw, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Benjamin Bridges, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Nathan T. Carter, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; & Erin L. Dolan, University of Georgia, Athens, GA