All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Linda Searby

Advisory Committee Members

Julia Austin

Jeffrey Engler

Matthew Fifolt

Susan Spezzini

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


The complex graduate student-faculty mentor relationship mentoring plays a substantial role in the academic and professional success of graduate students within the diverse settings of higher education institutions. An understanding of the mentee's level of preparedness for the mentoring relationship, or mentoring mindset, is needed in order to better inform graduate faculty mentors and graduate students about factors that contribute to a successful mentoring relationship. Existing research tends to concentrate on valued mentor characteristics from the mentee's perspective. However, there is little research on the mentee's preparedness for the doctoral student-faculty member mentoring relationship in a higher education setting. This phenomenological study explored from the mentor's perspective what constitutes a mentoring mindset in doctoral students who work with a graduate faculty mentor at a Research I University in the Southern United States. The central research question was: "What constitutes a mentoring mindset in a doctoral student who is being mentored by a graduate faculty mentor?" The purposeful sample included four females and six males from diverse academic backgrounds, different faculty ranks, and varying years of experience who had graduate faculty status, currently serve on dissertation committees, and who had received the Graduate Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentorship. Data collection included face-to-face in-depth structured interviews. In addition to the interviews, a reflection question was left with the participants to answer at their convenience: "After reflecting on our interview, what is your perception of the mentoring mindset of a doctoral student who is prepared to be mentored?" A modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method was utilized to analyze the data (Creswell, 2007; Moustakas, 1994). Interviews were transcribed verbatim, significant statements were coded, and the following major themes emerged: (a) context of the mentoring relationship, (b) basic knowledge and skills of the mentee, (c) learning orientation of the mentee, (d) personal attributes, and (e) mentoring mindset of a doctoral student. The characteristics that emerged from the research form a developmental continuum of a doctoral student's mentoring mindset, which will help inform administrators, deans, and faculty mentors regarding best practices and training programs for mentors and mentees.

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