College Fund Research

Conceptualizing a mentoring program for American Indian/Alaska Native students in the STEM fields: a review of the literature

August 17, 2017

In order to address the disparity of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) doctorates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), culturally congruent mentorship program development is needed. Because traditional Western academic paradigms are typically constrained to a non-Indigenous perspective, the authors question how American Indian graduate students in STEM can successfully navigate graduate education with their cultural identity intact. Our review and synthesis of the literature addresses this question by considering 60 data sources that include peer-reviewed articles, personal communication with professionals working in the field of AI/AN academic success, and professional training literature. Our synthesis demonstrates that there is a dearth of Indigenous participation in the STEM fields that needs to be addressed by instituting a bicultural paradigm. This paradigm includes incorporating traditional academic mentoring into Indigenous values and kinship structures. A conceptual model is offered that delineates information necessary to conceptualize and develop an Indigenous mentoring program.

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