Publication Date

5-2021

Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

3-1-2021

Type of Culminating Activity

Dissertation

Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Julianne Wenner, Ph.D.

Advisor

Sarah Hagenah, Ph.D.

Advisor

Megan Frary, Ph.D.

Advisor

Kelly Rossetto. Ph.D.

Abstract

Background: The impostor phenomenon (IP) describes a condition in which one has a feeling of intellectual phoniness, leaving one to doubt their ability to succeed. Research states that in particular, female STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) college students in male-dominated programs, such as engineering and computer science, are affected by such feelings. IP has shown consequences for female students’ retention, feeling of belonging, and success, which contribute to STEM gender inequities. Recently it has been stated that strengthening the student’s sense of self individually through mindfulness might be another avenue of support.

Purpose: Using self-authorship theory, and with that taking into account science identity development, the purpose is to explore and interpret the effects of mindfulness on female STEM graduate students’ experience with IP in computer science and engineering and their advancement on the self-authorship trajectory.

Methods: Ten graduate and doctoral students participated in this exploratory, mixed-methods study, by completing an eight-week, self-led mindfulness program. The participants completed three semi-structured interviews, and weekly journals entries, including drawings. Four surveys were administered pre- and post-intervention.

Results: A Mindfulness Foundation was developed that supported the participants in internalizing mechanisms to deal with IP. Mindfulness also strengthened the participants' sense of self-authorship and a correlation of mindfulness, IP and self-authorship was identified.

Conclusion: The study emphasizes the importance of incorporating mindfulness into STEM graduate education due to its multifaceted impacts. Further underlined is the importance of giving female STEM graduate students the opportunity to uncover their impostor feelings, explore their science identity, and grow self-authorship for professional success and well-being.

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