“Where’s my mentor?!" characterizing negative mentoring experiences in undergraduate life science research

Lisa Limeri, Muhammad Zaka Asif, Benjamin H.T. Bridges, David Esparza, Trevor T. Tuma, Daquan Sanders, Alexander J. Morrison, Pallavi Rao, Joseph A. Harsh, Adam V. Maltese, Erin L. Dolan

Abstract

Undergraduate research experiences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields are championed for promoting students’ personal and professional development. Mentorship is an integral part of undergraduate research, as effective mentorship maximizes the benefits undergraduates realize from participating in research. Yet almost no research examines instances in which mentoring is less effective or even problematic, even though prior research on mentoring in workplace settings suggests negative mentoring experiences are common. Here, we report the results of a qualitative study to define and characterize negative mentoring experiences of undergraduate life science researchers. Undergraduate researchers in our study reported seven major ways they experienced negative mentoring: absenteeism, abuse of power, interpersonal mismatch, lack of career support, lack of psychosocial support, misaligned expectations, and unequal treatment. They described some of these experiences as
Original languageEnglish
JournalCBE Life Sciences Education
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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