Current Research and Key Findings

In order to become a culturally responsive mentor, one must first become aware of cultural diversity and its role in mentoring relationships. The current work of our research team focuses on the development and testing of a multidimensional scale to measure cultural diversity awareness.

Stage 1: Structured Interviews (Spring 2015). A brief pre-survey was administered and structured interviews were conducted with mentors (n = 25) and mentees (n = 33) who had participated in a summer research experience for undergraduates at a large Midwestern research-intensive university.


Key Findings:

  • Cultural diversity is not perceived as relevant to mentoring relationships. This perception is held by both mentors and mentees.
  • Beliefs and behaviors did not always align. There were several instances of inconsistencies in participant’s reported values/beliefs (e.g., yes, cultural diversity matters in life) and their attitudes or behaviors in the research mentoring relationship (e.g., no, cultural diversity is irrelevant and distracting to research).
  • Mentors and mentees have different attitudes about addressing cultural diversity in mentoring relationships. Some mentors thought that the mentee should be responsible for addressing diversity in the mentoring relationship, while mentees often cited the mentor as being responsible for addressing diversity. These findings suggest a diffusion of responsibility and further support a misalignment of values and behaviors.
  • Addressing diversity in general is not sufficient. The diffuse nature of the data we received made it clear that focusing on one area of diversity (i.e., race/ethnicity) was necessary for measuring the CDA construct and drawing conclusions.

Stage 2: Pilot Test #1 (September 2014). From the structured interviews, literature reviews, and consultations with content area experts, a 49-item Cultural Diversity Awareness (CDA) scale was developed. The CDA scale is hypothesized to comprise four-subscales, each measuring a dimension of CDA: Attitudes, Behaviors, Confidence to Enact CDA Behaviors, and Motivation to Enact CDA Behaviors. The CDA scale was pilot tested with 108 mentors (58% Women; 88% White) at a large research university in the Midwest. The Attitudes and Behaviors subscales were also administered to 113 mentees (61% Women; 82% White) from the same university.

Key Findings:

  • 28 items from the initial scale were removed. Items were identified as potentially problematic based on descriptive statistics, response category usage, item total correlations, subscale internal consistency, item-level concurrent and discriminant validity, and participant feedback.
  • Correlations with validated measures. Items that were ultimately retained in the scale correlated positively with the Empathic Feeling and Expression and Empathic Awareness subscales of the Scale of Ethnocultural Empathy (Wang et al., 2003). This suggests that the CDA items retained are related to similar constructs as measured by these validated scales. Retained items were not significantly correlated with the brief version of Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (Leary, 1983). This suggests that responses on items retained for the next round of pilot testing are not related to an individual’s fear that he or she will be viewed negatively.

Stage 3: Pilot Test #2 (November 2015). The second pilot includes mentees attending a national science conference (N = 998; 66% Women; 14% White or Asian) and mentors of research experiences for undergraduates (REUs; N ≈ 300). Mentees received the attitudes subscale of the CDA (7 items), and mentors received all four subscales of the CDA (28 items). Data collection for this pilot is currently underway and is anticipated to be completed in February 2016.


Research reported on this website was supported by the National Institute Of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01GM094573. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.