Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Margaret Rogers

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to examine the supportive and challenging factors underrepresented minority students encounter in an academic setting as they obtain doctoral degrees in STEM disciplines. The study also explored the impact of students’ multiple social identities on their educational experiences, as well as the recommendations these students would provide to incoming doctoral students of color in STEM. Participants in this study consisted of 12 self-identified students from underrepresented minority backgrounds enrolled in STEM doctoral degree programs at predominately White institutions in the U.S.. Qualitative methods were utilized in this study. Specifically, the data was obtained through semi-structured interviews and was analyzed using manifest content analysis.

The results revealed that underrepresented minority doctoral students in STEM viewed the support received from faculty, mentors, advisors, and program directors as the main factors that have contributed to their doctoral academic success. Conversely, commonly identified challenges included having an advisor who was negligent or unsupportive, as well as adjusting to being a student at a predominately White institution and the difficulties associated with that. In terms of the impact of intersectionality on students’ doctoral educational experiences, participants reported both benefits and challenges associated with their various social identities. Specifically, half of participants reported that their multiple social identities aided their academic achievement and served as a source of motivation and empowerment. However, a number of participants also reported that their various social identities has made it difficult to relate to others, caused them to feel isolated, and/or created challenges in navigating friendships. Lastly, in providing recommendations for underrepresented minority students who are beginning doctoral programs in STEM, the majority of participants suggested that incoming students find a support system within or outside their academic program.

Available for download on Friday, December 27, 2019

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