Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ethnically diverse education students' perceptions of mentoring: Implications for career aspirations and college success
by Witmer, Miriam Marguerita Gomez, Ph.D., Temple University, 2014, 183; 3623319
Abstract (Summary)

Recruitment and retention of ethnically diverse students in college education preparation programs remains a difficult challenge for many colleges and universities across the United States. Low numbers of education majors yield low numbers of ethnically diverse teachers in the teaching workforce. According to 2010 data from the National Center of Education Statistics, African American students comprise about 16% of our public school students nationwide, but African American teachers only represent about 8% of the teaching workforce. While Asian students comprise 4.6% of the total public school population, only 1% of the teachers in American public schools are Asian (National Center of Education Statistics, 2010). Additionally, Latinos are expected to make up a third of the total U.S. school-age population (ages 3–17) by the year 2036, while Latino teachers represent only 14% of the teacher workforce (NCES, 2012).

Although college going rates for ethnically diverse students are increasing, many of those students are not choosing education as a major. Researchers have studied the perceptions ethnically diverse students have about teaching and have identified numerous barriers, such as: limited educational opportunities, more lucrative career options and standardized testing requirements (Madkins, 2011). Furthermore, Gordon's (1994) research points to not graduating from high school, negative experiences in school, lack of respect, teachers not being prepared for diversity, lack of support for college, lack of academic encouragement, racelessness, absence of role models of color, low status of the profession, too much education for the return, low pay, negative image, poor school conditions, having more opportunities elsewhere, and racism as contributing factors affecting students' decisions not to pursue a career in education. Graham and Erwin (2011) who studied African American boys discovered three themes: negative perceptions of teachers and teaching, perceptions of schools as oppressive institutions, and African American men are nonconformists. While these are all significant potential barriers to ethnically diverse students choosing careers in education, those ethnically diverse students who do choose to pursue teaching may be able to shed some light on the issue. Since much of the research focuses on the barriers and limitations ethnically diverse students face in our society, part of the purpose of this research is to highlight what is working for ethnically diverse students who are pursuing a career in education.

The purpose of this dissertation is to describe the factors that contribute to an ethnically diverse education major's career aspiration and college success. Since the disparity problem is multifaceted, I addressed historical, personal and social aspects that may impact the overall phenomenon, including: desegregation of teachers of color, students' experiences within the context of secondary schools, issues surrounding institutional racism, students' perceptions of teachers and teaching, college readiness, college recruitment and retention of teacher candidates, mentoring, personal motivations and identity development.

I endeavored to capture the rich stories of ethnically diverse college students' journeys to becoming a teacher and to understand what impact mentoring may have had on their career aspirations and college success. Results from this study can inform students, schools, and colleges and universities about the barriers and support systems that successful education majors of color report affect them. Since the primary focus is on the perceived effect of mentoring, the results may also provide insights regarding the retention of ethnically diverse students once they enroll in college.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schifter, Catherine C., Thurman, S. Kenneth
Commitee: DuCette, Joseph P., Farley, Frank, Jordan, Will J.
School: Temple University
Department: Educational Psychology
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Teacher education, Higher education
Keywords: Diversity, Higher education, Mentoring, Recruitment, Retention, Teacher education
Publication Number: 3623319
ISBN: 9781303957055
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