Graduate Student-Advisor Relationship and the Development of Excellence in STEM in Top STEM Graduate Students
Smeets, Stijn Johny
Among top STEM graduate students, the role the student-advisor relationship plays in the development of subsequent STEM accomplishments is examined, after controlling for key personal attributes that students bring to graduate training. First- and second-year graduate students attending top 15 STEM graduate departments in the U.S. were identified in 1992 (368 males, 346 females) and assessed on abilities, interests, and personality. Ten years later, the Advisory Working Alliance Inventory (AWAI-S; Schlosser & Gelso, 2001) was administered along with a follow-up survey. After controlling for initial differences in abilities, interests, and achievement motivation, the value added by AWAI-S was evaluated across outcomes assessed over 15 years (e.g., securing a STEM PhD, STEM tenure track positions, & STEM occupations of responsibility and stature commensurate with STEM tenure-track faculty positions at research intensive universities). The value added by the AWAI-S was clearly apparent for obtaining a STEM PhD, but lessened as outcome criteria became more distal in time. A methodological approach is offered for examining the role mentoring plays in facilitating longitudinal outcomes; this approach also is germane for evaluating other interventions aimed at promoting the development of remote outcomes.