GCU Mentors in Research Training of Counseling Psychology Students Review

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Journal of Counseling Psychology 2002, Vol. 49, No. 3, 324 –330 Copyright 2002 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0022-0167/02/$5.00 DOI: 10.1037//0022-0167.49.3.330 The Role of Faculty Mentors in the Research Training of Counseling Psychology Doctoral Students Merris A. Hollingsworth and Ruth E. Fassinger This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers. This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly. University of Maryland This study investigated research mentoring experiences of counseling psychology doctoral students as predictors of students’ research productivity. The authors also assessed the research training environment and research self-efficacy as influences on research productivity. Participants were 194 third- and fourth-year counseling psychology doctoral students. Results indicated that the research training environment predicted students’ research mentoring experiences and their research self-efficacy. Both research mentoring experiences and research self-efficacy mediated the effect of the research training environment on research productivity. Analyses showed no significant differences in these relationships by student gender or scientific stature of training programs. and students’ research productivity. For example, Krebs et al. (1991) found a positive relationship between students’ perceptions of the research training environment and subsequent research productivity. Investigations also supported positive relationships between the research training environment and students’ research self-efficacy (Bishop & Bieschke, 1998; Phillips & Russell, 1994). Further analyses suggested that research self-efficacy mediates the relationship between the research training environment and students’ research productivity; that is, the training environment affects productivity indirectly, through the influence of the training environment on students’ research self-efficacy (Brown, Lent, Ryan, & McPartland, 1996; Kahn & Scott, 1997). In addition, previous research suggests that student gender moderates the research training environment, self-efficacy, and productivity relationship, with significantly different relationships existing between these variables for men and for women. Specifically, Brown et al. (1996) found that research self-efficacy had a significantly stronger effect on research productivity for male students than for female students; in contrast, the research training environment had a greater direct effect on productivity for female than for male students. Evidence from Kahn and Scott (1997) also supports student gender as a possible moderator, with males reporting higher research self-efficacy than females. The literature also supports expressed interest in research as a predictor of research productivity (Kahn & Scott, 1997; Parker & Detterman, 1988; Royalty & Magoon, 1985). Although the research training environment and research self-efficacy appear to influence students’ interest in research (Bishop & Bieschke, 1998; Kahn & Scott, 1997), students also have had interest and experiences with scientific inquiry that they developed prior to their doctoral program training (Gelso, 1997). Varied levels of prior research interest reflect individual differences that students bring to their doctoral programs. Although data have supported the effects of the research training environment in changing students’ level of research interest (Mallinckrodt et al., 1990; Royalty et al., 1986), the extent to which prior levels of research interest may influence students’ later research productivity is unclear. Although mentoring is not a specific focus of the research training environment literature, faculty mentoring emerges as a consistently important undercurrent in the research training envi- Research training of counseling psychology doctoral students has received increased scrutiny in the last 2 decades. This scrutiny stems, in part, from the observation that few counseling psychologists conduct research after completing their doctoral requirements despite training in a scientist–practitioner model (Brems, Johnson, & Gallucci, 1996). Although research suggests that individual factors, such as personality and interests, play a major role in research attitudes and productivity (e.g., Kahn & Scott, 1997; Krebs, Smither, & Hurley, 1991; Mallinckrodt, Gelso, & Royalty, 1990), theorists have also proposed that the research training environment plays an influential role in shaping counseling psychologists’ perceptions of research (Gelso, 1997). To describe the role of the research training environment, Gelso (1997) has proposed and empirically tested a model. The research training environment model hypothesizes nine themes central to research training, which include (a) teaching students that all research is flawed, (b) teaching students to look inward for research ideas, (c) helping students understand the connection between science and practice, (d) teaching varied methodologies, (e) teaching statistics in ways that are relevant to research applications, (f) faculty modeling of appropriate scientific behavior and attitudes, (g) providing positive reinforcement of scientific activity, (h) involving students in research activities early in graduate training, and (i) viewing participation in science as a partially social activity. A number of empirical studies have indicated that the research training environment model describes critical elements that differentiate between research training programs (Gelso, Mallinckrodt, & Judge, 1996; Kahn & Scott, 1997; Royalty, Gelso, Mallinckrodt, & Garrett, 1986). Studies also consistently show positive relationships between the research training environment, students’ research self-efficacy, Merris A. Hollingsworth and Ruth E. Fassinger, Counseling and Personnel Services, University of Maryland. The data were collected by Merris A. Hollingsworth as part of her doctoral dissertation. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Merris Hollingsworth, who is now at the Center for Counseling and Student Development, 261 Perkins Student Center, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716. E-mail: 324 This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers. This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly. RESEARCH MENTORS ronment. For example, Gelso (1993) outlined specific faculty behaviors associated with good research-related mentoring. In this description, faculty offer interpersonal reinforcement for research activity, express enthusiasm for science and research, acknowledge the inevitability of flaws in research, expose students to a variety of research methods, model a balance of science and practice, and use relationship skills that communicate empathy, positive regard, and genuineness to students. However, some researchers have critiqued research training environment theory in regard to mentoring, suggesting that faculty mentoring should be a more explicit element of the research training environment. For example, Hill (1997) compared the role of the faculty–student mentoring relationship in research training to that of the working alliance between the counselor and the client, which prompted her suggestion that the faculty–student mentoring relationship itself may be an essential ingredient in the research training environment. Similarly, Mallinckrodt (1997) recommended a systemic perspective, in which each advisor–student relationship is considered as a “micro-environment” that exists within the larger contexts of a department and institution. Other researchers have voiced similar support for the important role of mentors in research training, although not within the specific context of the research training environment. For example, Royalty and Reising’s (1986) data indicated that research activities involving interaction with role models or an advisor were among the strongest positive influences on interest in research. O’Brien (1995) and Gelso (1997) both noted that student responses to open-ended questions about critical incidents in their research training often focused on their relationships with faculty members. Several studies suggest that faculty modeling or mentoring in research activities corresponds with higher rates of research involvement and productivity among psychology students and recent graduates (Cronan-Hillix, Gensheimer, Cronan-Hillix, & Davidson, 1986; Galassi, Brooks, Stoltz, & Trexler, 1986; Krebs et al., 1991). Despite these associations, no studies could be identified that focused specifically on research-related mentoring in counseling psychology. The literature suggests that graduate students believe that having a mentor is a critical component of graduate training (Atkinson, Neville, & Casas, 1991; Lark & Croteau, 1998; Luna & Cullen, 1998). Many psychology graduate students also appear to have mentors during their training; two studies among this population found that more than half of respondents reported having a mentor during their graduate work (Cronan-Hillix et al., 1986; Mintz, Bartels, & Rideout, 1995). Furthermore, Atkinson et al. (1991) surveyed ethnic minority psychologists and found that respondents recalled their faculty mentors’ encouragement related to research involvement as important and useful. A few studies have investigated outcomes associated with research-related mentoring in other academic disciplines. Green and Bauer’s (1995) study of doctoral students in the physical sciences showed little relationship between research mentoring and students’ research productivity after controlling for participants’ research interest prior to graduate school. In contrast, Cronan-Hillix et al. (1986) found a significant relationship between receipt of mentoring and several measures of research productivity. The lack of additional studies in academic settings that explore outcomes associated with mentoring contrasts sharply with studies of mentoring in business settings, where measures such as rate of promotion, salary increases, and job satisfaction are 325 consistently correlated with receipt of mentoring (e.g., Bahniuk, Dobos, & Kogler Hill, 1990; Bowen, 1985; Turban & Dougherty, 1994; for a more complete review of this literature, see Noe, 1988a). The current study extended the investigation of research training in counseling psychology by exploring the role that faculty research mentoring plays in predicting student research productivity, above and beyond the contributions of the research training environment, students’ research self-efficacy, and students’ past research attitudes. Five research questions guided our work: 1. Does the research training environment predict students’ research mentoring experiences, their research self-efficacy, or their research productivity? 2. Do students’ research mentoring experiences mediate the relationship between the research training environment and productivity? 3. Do students’ self-efficacy beliefs mediate the influence of the research training environment on research productivity? 4. Does controlling for students’ past attitudes toward research significantly change the relationships between research training environment, self-efficacy, research mentoring, and research productivity? 5. Are relationships between these variables moderated by students’ gender or by the scientific stature of their training program? Method Participants Participants were 194 (135 women and 59 men) third- or fourth-year students enrolled in 25 APA-approved counseling psychology programs. Only students working toward a PhD participated in the study, and the response rate was 70%. The majority of the participants identified themselves as European American (71%), and 12% identified as African American/Black, 5% as Hispanic/Latino/Latina, 4% biracial, 3.5% Asian American, 2% international students, and 1.5% unspecified. Ninety-five percent of the respondents categorized themselves as third- or fourth-year doctoral students, whereas the remaining 5% included second-, fifth-, and sixth-year students. The ages of the participants ranged from 23 to 58 years (M ⫽ 31.08 years, SD ⫽ 6.36 years). Participants from high and medium research productivity programs comprised the majority of the sample (38% and 36%, respectively), with 26% coming from low research productivity programs. More than half of the respondents (57.5%) indicated that they currently participated in an active research team, and 72% considered themselves as currently having a research mentor. Students who did not have a research mentor were instructed to “consider the faculty relationship that has been most important in your research training while in your current doctoral program” when answering questions. Instruments Independent variables. The research training environment was assessed by a modified version of the Research Training Environment Scale—Revised (RTES–R; Gelso et al., 1996). The original instrument contains nine subscales measuring the following: teaching relevant statistics, facilitating students “looking inward” for research ideas, teaching that all experiments are flawed and limited, focusing on varied investigative styles, wedding science and clinical practice, faculty modeling of appropriate scientific behavior, faculty reinforcement of student research, students’ early involvement in research, and science as a partly social experience. Items ask students to rate their doctoral program in each of these areas. Test–retest reliabilities for each subscale range from .74 to .94, and the subscales consistently correlate with changes in research attitudes This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers. This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly. 326 HOLLINGSWORTH AND FASSINGER during graduate training and with research self-efficacy (Gelso et al., 1996). The current study used a modified 16-item version of the RTES–R. First, the three items with the highest factor loading on each subscale were selected for this study on the basis of factor analyses conducted by Kahn and Gelso (1997), in which all items were forced to load on one of the nine subscales. This step yielded an abbreviated version with 27 items. To avoid a potential problem of item overlap between this instrument and the Research Mentoring scale (described below), we omitted 11 additional items from the RTE measure because they addressed the role of the faculty advisor (e.g., “I feel that my faculty advisor expects too much from my research projects”). Participants responded on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 to 5, with higher numbers indicating a greater level of agreement with each statement. Responses were added to yield a total score, with potential scores ranging from 16 to 80. Cronbach’s alpha for the RTE measure was .87 in the current study. We measured research mentoring experiences with the Research Mentoring Experiences Scale (RMES), a measure created for this study that is based on comparable instruments developed for business settings (e.g., Noe, 1988b; Ragins & McFarlin, 1990). The RME included two subscales. The first subscale, Psychosocial Mentoring, includes 13 items that explored the affective aspects of research training, focusing on the personal elements of the relationship between faculty member and student. Participants indicated the extent to which a specific faculty member expressed emotional support, communicated respect and personal regard, and modeled positive attitudes toward research. The second subscale, Career Mentoring, investigated faculty members’ efforts to help students acquire specific information necessary to complete research tasks successfully. The 16 items on this subscale explored faculty members’ teaching of research skills, giving advice, and providing research opportunities. For both psychosocial and career mentoring, instructions asked respondents to rate their relationship with the faculty member whom they considered most important in their current doctoral research training. Possible responses ranged from 1 (faculty member pays very little attention to . . . ) to 5 (faculty member pays a great deal of attention to . . . ). Responses to items were added and divided by the number of items to generate a total score. Possible scores ranged from 1 to 5. The RMES was initially tested and revised in a pilot study (n ⫽ 25); Cronbach’s alpha in the current study was .74. Research self-efficacy, hypothesized as a second mediating variable, was measured by a shortened version of the Self-Efficacy in Research Measure (SERM; Phillips & Russell, 1994). As previously adapted by Kahn and Scott (1997), the shortened version of Phillips and Russell’s measure includes 12 items asking doctoral students to describe their confidence in applying four types of research-related skills: research design, practical research skills, quantitative and computer skills, and writing skills. In this study, participants indicated their responses on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 (no confidence) to 5 (total confidence). Each response was added to yield a total score, with potential scores ranging from 12 to 60. This instrument yielded high internal consistency (.90) in previous research (Kahn & Scott, 1997) and in the current study (␣ ⫽ .87). Past attitudes toward research was measured by the four items constructed by Royalty et al. (1986). These items measured counseling psychology students’ recalled interest in conducting research prior to their enrollment in the doctoral program. The items included the following: (a) “I would have preferred to have the option of completing my doctoral training without being required to complete research projects” (Preference), (b) “I had a strong interest in doing research” (Interest), (c) “I placed a high value on the place of research in my future career” (Value), and (d) “Participating in research activities after graduation was not a major priority for me” (Priority). Participants rated their level of agreement with each item, using a 5-point Likert scale, which ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), and the first and last items were reversescored. Responses were added, then divided by the number of items to produce a final score, with a potential range from 1 to 5. Previous research shows good internal consistency for the scale, with alpha ranging from .87 to .90 (Gelso et al., 1996; Kahn & Scott, 1997; Royalty et al., 1986), and the test–retest correlation for this measure was .93 (Royalty et al., 1986). Cronbach’s alpha in the current study was .89. Dependent variable. The dependent variable, research productivity, was assessed using Kahn and Scott’s (1997) 8-item measure. These items provided a broad measure of students’ involvement in research-related activities, including collection and analysis of data, development of manuscripts, participation in public presentations, and attendance at research conventions (Kahn & Scott, 1997). Students responded to each item by providing a number indicating the number of projects for which they are currently collecting or analyzing data, the number of manuscripts they have completed or are now working on, and so forth. Responses were summed to obtain a total number, with potential scores ranging from zero to infinity. The current study yielded responses ranging from zero to 40, with a modal score of 6. Internal consistency coefficients (K-R 20) for this scale ranged from .59 to .72 (Kahn & Scott, 1997), an ...
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Article Review; Research Methods
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Article Review; Research Methods
Research as a systematic inquiry is a field that one has to train in, so as to fit in well.
The field of psychology, like any other academic field, depends on research to create new
knowledge, and affirm existing knowledge. Therefore, in the event that doctoral students in
the faculties of psychology are not able to conduct credible research in their thesis work or
are not interested in research beyond the doctorate thesis, it must worry members of the
academic community. This, therefore, makes it interesting to explore deeply the relationships,
and linkages between research training environments, research efficacy, and research
The study has established a relationship between research training environment, and
the productivity of doctoral students in research (Hollingsworth & Fassinger, 2002). Indeed,
the environment in which students learn determines if the will have an interest both in
learning, and in practicing what they are taught. For example, learning in an environment
with adequate tutors, l...

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