College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Bernadette Sanchez, PhD

Second Advisor

Ida Salusky, PhD


Increasing the number of Latinx students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is a national priority, but statistics show that Latinx students are still underrepresented in these fields (U.S. Department of Education, 2014). Mentoring interactions are thought to be integral to the retention and success of STEM students (George & Neale, 2006) and a contextualized mentoring model that both supports growth in STEM fields and also meets the needs of underrepresented groups is essential. This study used relational cultural theory (RCT; Ragins & Fletcher, 2007) to examine non-hierarchical relational mentoring approaches within STEM contexts. Using qualitative data from a larger investigation that evaluated a university-based hands-on research and mentoring program designed to build a pipeline for Latinx students pursuing higher education in science and biomedical research, the study sought to answer three research questions: What do relational mentoring relationships look like in a science mentoring program for Latinx high school and college students? What are the relational outcomes of relational mentoring relationships in a science mentoring program for Latinx high school and college students? What are the gender differences in the use and expression of relational abilities and outcomes? The results support the relevance of RCT to science contexts and to Latinx science students and their mentors. Relational abilities and outcomes were discussed by program students, graduate student mentors, and faculty advisors, and often manifested in ways that were specific to the scientific context. Program students most frequently mentioned relational abilities. There were some group differences in the discussions of relational outcomes. Gender differences in content also arose, meaning men and women discussed and exhibited some relational abilities and outcomes in different ways. This study is a unique contribution to the STEM mentoring literature and suggests that RCT mentoring could be an important framework for future program trainings.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons