Conceptualizing socialization of graduate students of color: revisiting the Weidman-Twale-Stein framework.
While well-received and widely used, the frame work was sometimes criticized for not going far enough in addressing specific student populations and institutional conditions (Bancroft, Kushner, Benson, & Johnson-Whitt, 2016; Clarke & Antonio, 2012; Cole & Griffin, 2013; Daniel, 2007; Felder & Barker, 2013; Felder, Stevenson, & Gasman, 2014; Gopaul, 2011, 2016; Griffin et al., 2016; McGaskey, 2015; Mendoza, Villarreal, & Gunderson, 2014; Sallee, 2011; Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016). Consequently, in this paper we review literature published in the ensuing years that focuses on diversity issues in graduate education, with a specific, though not exclusive, emphasis on the experience of African-American doctoral students. We explore ways in which the original Weidman-Twale-Stein (2001) framework addresses diversity issues and suggest how it might be modified to take contemporary findings with regard to diversity into account.
Diversity, Inclusion, and Graduate Student Socialization
While student diversity on college campuses continues to increase, the graduate faculty tends to be less diverse than the students they advise, supervise, and mentor such that graduate socialization processes may be affected by the lack of a critical mass of diverse faculty to address diverse student needs (DeFour & Hirsch, 1990; Ellis, 2001; Felder, Stevenson, & Gasman, 2014; Johnson-Bailey, Valentine, Cervero, & Bowles, 2009; Margolis & Romero, 1998; Patton & Harper, 2003; Patton, 2009). The Digest of Education (2014) indicates that diversity among senior male and female minority faculty hovers around 15%-16% of all faculty, compared to 33% of all students identified as students of color. Furthermore, the 2013 figure shows faculty numbers have grown by only one percentage point per year. However, a critical mass of diverse faculty, inclusion, and tolerance in graduate programs is essential if students are to be prepared effectively for the careers they enter after earning graduate degrees.
Diversity in higher education covers a broad range of concerns, summarized in Figure 1. We do not intend to address all of them, but rather to focus on key studies that enhance the Weidman-Twale-Stein (2001) framework. In the following sections, we highlight several of the more cogent studies. We include studies of undergraduate students that are relevant for understanding transition into and passage through graduate study.
Inequality/Inequity of Resources
Gopaul (2011) discussed the inequity of resource distribution in doctoral programs. Specifically, he "refers to the substantial injustice some groups suffer due to the unconscious assumptions and behaviors of well-meaning people in ordinary interactions" (p. 13) that in turn affect resource distribution. In addition, organizational structures, policies, and practices (formal and informal) may contribute to student injustices. For example, competition for graduate assistantships and external grant funding; opportunities to work with faculty on research projects, presentations at conferences, and co-authorships; and choice of faculty advisors and dissertation chair/committee members will benefit some students but not necessarily every student (Acker & Hague, 2015; Gopaul, 2011) due to the inequity of resource distribution.
Graduate students may experience inequity prior to matriculation. Human, social, and cultural capital as well as habitus affects graduate student choice processes, steering potential candidates either toward or away from highly selective or prestigious research universities (Perna, 2004). Because graduate students often matriculate at institutions geographically convenient to them, females and students of color especially may settle for admission to less selective institutions than their credentials warrant (Belasco & Trivette, 2015). Student demographic characteristics represent strong predictors of which graduate schools women and students of color eventually enter, delay entry to, or overlook entry to altogether (Perna 2004) or which resources will be available or which communities of learning might be more welcoming than others (Acker & Hague, 2015).
Because doctoral students have different faculty advisors, lab supervisors, and dissertation chairs, some students will have better mentors than other students (Gopaul, 2011). Seasoned faculty mentors may possess stronger benefits compared to newly minted mentors. Negative outcomes can be linked to a poorly matched faculty-student dyad, poor faculty supervisory skills, how faculty chairs exercise their power and authority over students, and what outcomes faculty and students wish to draw from the relationship (Dysthe, Samara, & Westrheim, 2006). For example, Carlan, Lewis, and Dial (2009) studied criminology and criminal justice programs and learned that faculty from various disciplinary backgrounds housed in the program could affect professionalization processes as not all faculty had been trained as criminologists. As a result, student advising and/or mentoring could vary within a particular department or academic program.
The lack of faculty of color posed trust issues with students of color. For instance, socialization for students of color in graduate social work programs could be hampered by the lack of culturally relevant curriculum activities. Also without a critical mass of diverse faculty and peers in the graduate program, entrant students of color struggle to find advisors and mentors (Daniel, 2007). Students often felt victimized by long standing racial stereotypes they sense exists in these departments. Mistrust caused some students of color to withhold their concerns and difficulties to their white faculty advisors. Regardless of whether these students really were victimized, they acted upon their personal reality (Daniel, 2007).
Students of color may also experience cross-cultural conflicts in their classrooms as well as in their field placements. In the Daniel (2007) study, site supervisors felt student interns shied away from addressing their differences, thereby affecting the degree to which they benefitted from their field experience. Daniel explained that "professional distance is considered part of development of professional identity ... [however] ... this requirement may be particularly burdensome for minority students because it requires a constant adjustment between the duality of being a minority, which is tied to a sense of community and being a professional" (p.38).
Graduates of doctoral programs depart having acquired inequitable/unequal skill sets, abilities, and resources based upon the quality and number of advantages they accrue during the time spent in an academic program. Unfortunately, not everyone admitted to a given program possesses the time, capital, and savvy to access these competitive advantages. Acker and Hague (2015) found that nonwhite students in their study wondered if their white peers would be offered greater access to departmental resources than they. Consequently, students who secured the most valued resources often positioned themselves to receive more from the program than other peers who accrued fewer or less valuable resources. Differential positioning, subsequently affects job placement, perhaps entry salary expectations, and the ability to progress successfully up the career ladder (Garces & Mickey-Pabello, 2015).
Furthering Equity through Resource Redistribution
Without a critical mass of peers of color, students of color realize the loss of a support system that affects their own academic validation (Daniel 2007). Efforts to increase student diversity should parallel opportunities to increase faculty diversity for without the latter, the students have few role model and mentor options. Imbalances found in sex, age, race, citizenship, sexual identity, and disability within faculty ranks as well as the graduate student body often lead to student isolationism and tokenism (Schlemper & Monk, 2011).
Dysthe et al. (2006) suggested adopting multiple faculty and peer supervisory teams to combat or minimize negative affect. Comparable to a community of practice, these teams help to move the novice student into a more empowering rather than disengaging position. The researchers determined that these "supervision groups emphasized mutual obligation and regularity, offering structure, constructive feedback and leadership" (Dysthe et al., p. 310). This joint approach also fosters greater student self-confidence.
Curriculum also needs a multicultural perspective through books and articles that not only focus attention to diverse issues but are written by authors of color. This can prepare all students in the helping professions to work with diverse clientele (Daniel, 2007). For example, just as doctoral programs aim to offer inclusive practices and coursework that further multiculturalism, most counseling programs do not offer coursework on the psychology of men. Mellinger and Ming Liu (2006) suggested that without such attention to all client types, it becomes difficult to prepare students to meet the professional needs of all clients.
Departments need to keep records to assess whether or not students may be missing valuable career opportunities like conference attendance, teaching and service opportunities, collaborative research opportunities, professional development, and co-authorships. Students also need to be encouraged to learn more about the contexts and environments in which they will study and live. Peer relationships may also be critical to leveling the sociocultural playing field by encouraging communities of learners and practice (Gopaul, 2011).
Bridging Isolation and Social Distance
When students begin graduate programs, they tend to compare or size up their background, experience, and perceptions against other peers in their academic programs. Because students come with different backgrounds, some are familiar with academe while others struggle to acclimate to the new culture. Those who fail to fit the prevailing normative standard or mode may be marginalized and isolated rather than encouraged and supported. Some students espouse values that are not aligned with the normative expectations of a program which seems then to exclude them. Disparities in social and cultural capital highlight further distinctions likely to affect graduate student socialization processes. As a result, social distance may develop between peers who are expected to function as a structured cohort (Gopaul, 2011).
In the Johnson-Bailey, Valentine, Cervero, and Bowles (2009) study, participants noted feelings of isolation and disconnection from their department that deepened as a result of on-going biases and discrimination. Peer-to-peer relationships between students of color and white students seemed strained or nonexistent and interactions with white faculty felt more formal than informal. For instance, the hierarchical and competitive nature of the engineering program Sallee (2011 a, 2011 b) studied exhibited power relations and furthered social distance between majority faculty and underrepresented student populations, a particularly devastating blow to female students in the program.
As a result, all graduate students need social, cultural, and academic access to all people, resources, and activities. The goal would be to immerse the student into communities of learners and work from within to overcome isolation rather than for students of color to just observe from the periphery how the program and profession works. Students must increase their own understanding of the program and profession so faculty can further students' enculturation into a professional community of learning and/or practice (Dysthe et al., 2006).
Doctoral students experience cognitive, psychosocial, and identity development as they move through distinctive stages of their graduate program. These developmental processes differ based on student demographic characteristics, chosen field/discipline, and departmental environment and culture (Gardner, 2009). Those cultural processes are influenced by race and ethnicity which can serve to isolate students, thereby inadvertently affecting their integration into academic fields and professionalization.
Academic and Social Support
Much of the research literature is mixed on socialization of graduate students of color. Some studies noted positive outcomes while others found areas that needed closer examination. The following studies highlight the importance of supportive people fostering a supportive environment whether one already exists or whether students need to create one apart from the mainstream in order to sustain themselves.
In the Johnson-Bailey et al. (2009) study of African American graduate students at a predominantly white institution (PWI) they found that these students experienced isolation and loneliness as members of the university community. In retrospect, these students "endured and survived" rather than fondly remembered their time together in their graduate department (Johnson-Bailey, et al., p. 192). Unlike white peers, African American graduate students in this study cultivated relationships with their professors because they did not benefit from the informal peer networking in their departments. Gardner and Holley (2011) suggested students of color receive information through various social networking options and that universities offer counseling services targeting these student populations as a means for them to overcome isolation and loneliness.
One important challenge to the socialization process tends to be unilateral where students often leave behind pre-college knowledge and previous identities or communities, which can have negative consequences on persistence in graduate academic programs (Antony, 2002; Felder, Stevenson, & Gasman, 2014; Gardner, 2008a, 2008b; McGaskey, 2015; Tierney, 1997; Tierney & Rhoads, 1994; Winkle-Wagner, 2009). Therefore, presence at a historically black college and university (HBCU) or a program targeted for undergraduate students of color may contribute significantly to student persistence. Program persistence among doctoral students at HBCUs relates to purposeful faculty-student interaction. Students in these programs who were not classified as major researchers experienced fewer opportunities for involvement in conference presentations and publications. However, engagement with faculty advisors tended to be more positive than students who engaged only with faculty on research projects (Fountaine, 2012). The importance of being an undergraduate student of color in The McNair Program, for example, served as a means to enhance student socialization and academic integration; booster self-confidence; integrate socially, network, and participate in learning communities; affirm abilities; and support to degree completion (Gittens, 2014). When students matriculate to PWIs from these bridge programs, they come with established support systems, strategies for maneuvering through academe, and a better understanding of expectations. As a result, these students possess greater anticipatory socialization than students who do not participate in bridge programs. Additional mentorship, peer support, counseling, advocacy and financial programs include the AACTE Holmes Scholars Program (http://aacte. org/programs-and-services/holmes-program) and the SREB (http://www.sreb.org/doctoral-scholars-program) Doctoral Scholars Program, as well as the PhD project (http://www.phdproject.org/) which advocates supporting doctoral students who enter the academic ranks in the business field.
Felder and Barker (2013) found that the African-American doctoral student experience meant inaccessibility to some faculty but they maintained connection to other faculty for various reasons. For instance, some faculty expressed interest in the student's personal self as well as the student's professional self. Some faculty understood race/ethnicity and racial/ethnic identity compared to other faculty who experienced difficulty in understanding communities of color. Some faculty offered students support while other faculty did not. And finally, some faculty showed sensitivity toward students and their chosen research topics compared to faculty who showed greater degrees of insensitivity toward students.
Research studies found that race can be a significant factor in African American student's socialization in graduate programs. In other words, race matters. In order to analyze race, students' perceptions of race and how these perceptions translate are described as the experiences of race or "racial experiences" (Felder et al., 2014; Baker, Pifer, & Griffin, 2014). Felder, et al. (2014), explained that, "racial experience serves to shape student's perceptions about the academic environment and success at the graduate level" (p.23). McGaskey (2015) also noted that a student's racial identity influences faculty-student interactions, peer-peer interactions, and student's perceptions of faculty. Overall, students' racial experiences also serve as a critical part of the transformation from graduate student to scholar. Most students succeed to degree completion when supported in their education by positive and strong student-faculty relationships and mentoring. Yet, due to their perceptions of race and diversity during their graduate programs, African-American graduate students still face challenges in building relationships with faculty and peers (Bancroft, Kushner, Benson, & Johnson-Whitt, 2016; Cole & Griffin, 2013; Felder et al., 2014; Gopaul, 2016; Griffin et al., 2016; McGaskey, 2015; Mendoza, Villarreal, & Gunderson, 2014; Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016).
Race and Gender
Race and gender interact to provide a more complete picture of intersectionality in the graduate student socialization processes. For example, Noy and Ray (2012) found that white women experience advantage and women of color suffer disadvantage. Patton and Harper (2003) noted the lack of African-American females needed to mentor to African-American female graduate students places the latter group at a disadvantage. In another study, Dixon-Reeves (2003) stated that African-American sociology graduate students revealed that most had at least one or more mentors. However, underrepresented students of color reported receiving career assistance more so than much needed emotional support that majority students reportedly received.
Discipline/field/department/program can have implications for socialization effectiveness with greater advantages given to those students in the sciences versus those in the humanities and social sciences. How male and female students of color act in majority female or male dominated departments varies and would likely differ in more gender balanced departments and professions. Peer group networking and formation under each set of circumstances and how students react to each other would likely differ also. Values to be internalized would be shaped by how gender and race are perceived and how peer groups/ networks experience gender as well as race which will likely vary across disciplines (Sallee 2011 b). In fact, "men and women in each discipline collaborate to create gender and hold one another accountable for producing appropriate behaviors" (Sallee, p. 181) in departmental/ program settings.
Language and Culture
Although Dunstan and Jaeger (2015) studied undergraduate students of color, their findings contain some similarities to and application for graduate students of color. Because the culture and language differs from the native, majority population, effective socialization may be impaired for students of color. For instance, some students may be reluctant to participate in class discussions, or raise questions or offer suggestions in a lab setting, challenge peers in classes or labs, or raise controversial issues anywhere. Because of their minority status in a majority-populated classroom, many students of color feel uncomfortable where they represent the only minority student present.
In fact, Dunstan and Jaeger (2015) stated that the student's "dialect [alone] may influence academic identity, or how a student sees him or herself fitting into the academic community" (p. 792). Imperative also to the professionalization of the doctoral student accrues the eventual need to 'sound like a scholar.' In other words, the inability to sound like a scholar could be incorrectly perceived by others as lack of knowledge. Therefore, graduate students should not feel inappropriately challenged by speech and language barriers but rather they should expect to enter inclusive environments sensitive to such actualities. This means faculty and administrations across campus must ensure that cultural and language barriers be lowered, accommodated, or removed.
Addressing language and cultural realities may be accomplished through workshops for faculty as well as online and in person language classes for nonnative speakers. Online versus face-to-face courses may benefit apprehensive speakers not only with their written language skills but also permit these students to achieve a greater participation level through class discussion posts. Where possible, programs might offer graduate introductory courses online to these students in an effort to permit them to practice written skills, increase participation in the course, and help build student self-confidence. Additionally, increased peer interaction and peer mentoring using social media could also assist with students' integration and socialization processes. In general, classrooms and labs of all kinds need to be welcoming and inclusive (Dunstan & Jaeger, 2015).
Attracting students from underrepresented socioeconomic status backgrounds can be especially difficult. Students with low socioeconomic status often lack key information about program quality when they apply to graduate programs. As a result, proximity to campus as opposed to academic program ranking or specialized accreditation certification held the determining power with these prospective students. In addition, students with low socioeconomic status particularly students of color report less academic preparation, less integration within their student cohort, and less financial support than middle and upper class student entrants (Warnock & Appel, 2012).
Personal financial resources, also, often determine graduate student choice options and eventual program persistence. To assist low-income students, graduate diversity officers must not only recruit and retain underrepresented populations but also regard increasing diversity as a holistic process and not just a statistical goal (Griffin, Muniz, & Espinosa 2012, p. 536). Therefore, campus and college strategic planning efforts can alter elite private post-secondary education's past trend of "reproducing societal inequality" tag (Hearn & Rosinger 2014, p. 97). When it comes to the admission of minority candidates and low socioeconomic populations, the appearance of a high tuition price tag should not be a primary deterrent. Therefore, wording used in strategic planning documents should be addressed and efforts through action statements that promote equality should be included.
Clarke and antonio (2012) examined racial diversity and concluded that "campuses that desire to pursue strategies of diversifying their student body should seek to understand whether their practices enhance interactions between students, and hence, whether they maximize benefits of diversity" (p. 41). Unfortunately, retention efforts often rest more on financial obligations than developing effective programs and services. Therefore, securing assistantships and fellowships not only defer the cost of an education, but also affect subsequent student socialization and professionalization.
Of students in a doctoral program, 33% reported first generation student status with a significant population being students of color. With much to prove and accomplish, first generation students in PhD programs bring less social and cultural capital than their peers often placing them at a disadvantage. However, determination, self-reliance, perseverance, and resiliency helped them overcome obstacles. These students straddle an imaginary line between their class/culture of origin and the world of academe. As a result, they grapple with belonging and acceptance issues (Gardner & Holley, 2011). Fortunately, social integration and mentoring opportunities saw few differences across class lines. Furthermore, students from low socioeconomic status experienced similar opportunities with their peers with regard to presenting, publishing, and collaborating (Warnock & Appel, 2012).
Revisiting the Weidman-Twale-Stein Graduate Student Socialization Framework
Based on the foregoing discussion as well as a subsequent revision of the Weidman-Twale-Stein (2001) model (see also Weidman, 2006), we "tweaked" the framework to reflect more clearly its applicability for addressing particular issues related to the experiences of diverse groups of students. Figure 2 shows the changes we made, noted in bold type.
The most significant addition to the framework is the notion of "Academic Resources" that appears immediately below Figure 2. According to Weidman (2006), this can be described as follows:
... the model shown ... reflects a basic inputs--environment--outcomes (I-E-O) structure that parallels what is described by Astin (1970a, 1970b, 1991) ... The I-E-0 structure is shared by human capital theory in economics (Becker, 1975) ... The student inputs to higher education are ... beliefs and values (predispositions to influence), and prior academic preparation. Environment represents the organizational structures and institutional culture with which students interact (Weidman, p. 256).
The I-E-O framework also parallels more recent work using Bourdieu's notions of cultural capital, social capital, and habitus (e.g., Bourdieu, 1986, 1988; Gopaul, 2011, 2016; Perna, 2004; Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016). For "inputs," we use the term "Entering" rather than "Prospective" Students since doctoral students begin their academic programs with an already well-defined notion of what they expect. Faculty base student selection on academic accomplishments at the undergraduate level ("preparation"), usually in the same or a closely related field to the one in which they are beginning doctoral study. We use "preparation" instead of "background" because of the importance of the academic program (department, field of study, etc.) for shaping socialization.
The center section of Figure 2 reflects key dimensions of the "environment" encountered by doctoral students. Given their particular importance for students of color, we include "faculty climate" as a pivotal element of "institutional culture" and "engagement" as an interpersonal mechanism for learning about and, over time, deciding whether or not to embrace, the norms of "academic programs." While the core elements of socialization ("knowledge acquisition," "investment," "involvement," "engagement") are drawn primarily from literature on undergraduates, they are, nonetheless, just as important for graduate students. More specifically,
Students are influenced in various ways, particularly through learning (Pascarella, 1985) or knowledge acquisition, again via both formal instruction and informal interaction with faculty and peers. The processes are reflected by involvement (Astin, 1984) in both the formal and informal structures of college environments. Engagement (Kuh, Schuh, Whitt, & Associates, 1991; Zhao, Kuh, & Carini, 2005) occurs as students develop attachments to persons and environments within higher education institutions (Weidman, 2006, p. 257).
We then added the socialization outcomes identified in the classic essay by Brim (1966), knowledge, skills, and dispositions. We believe these main attributes required for successful accession to careers requiring high levels of academic preparation to be critical to the model.
Finally, we suggest in Table 1 some possible manifestations of socialization processes and outcomes at different stages of the graduate student experience with a focus on African-American doctoral students. It includes, as well, considerations drawn from the more general discussion of diversity issues in the foregoing section of this article. Table 1 is meant to be illustrative and is, by no means, exhaustive.
The Importance of Race And Racial Identity In Socialization
A diverse, productive, and inclusive multigenerational intellectual community affects graduate student socialization. In order to assure students and faculty of such an environment, that intellectual community may need to be deliberately created, maintained, and sustained (Golde, 2015). For underrepresented student populations, a line seems to be drawn suggesting a need for departments to support/facilitate more peer interaction but not to the exclusion of faculty advising/ mentoring. Evidence of differential student advising/ mentoring indicates the need for more accountability on the part of faculty and administrators to establish formally written equal treatment guidelines to ensure effective academic and professional outcomes for all graduate students (Gasman, et al., 2008).
There are also criticisms such as many of the articles called for an expansion to include race/ethnicity in the working model. Expanding the model is important because race and racial experiences are a part of the graduate student's meaning making or cultural habitus, that is, understanding of self and profession. For example, at entry the student possesses a African American consciousness but also undergoes "educational" socialization through formal and informal interactions with faculty and students. Racial identity can not only be strengthened, weakened, or maintained through these stages of socialization but also, it takes different orientations such as nationalism and multicultural ism (Felder et al., 2014; McGaskey, 2015; Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016). Then, the personal internalization stage may be achieved once the student experiences integrated or causes dissonance among his/her varying identities, including racial and professional.
Experiencing race becomes more than racial identity development and psycho-social resiliency used to resolve dilemmas. It includes the broadening and deepening of the student's belief systems or "cultural habitus" that incorporates personal, sociocultural, and professional identities. Racial socialization elucidates systems of meaning related to race/ethnicity as well as student success and degree completion. Also, racial dynamics become part of the students' academic experiences. Graduate students have perceptions of race and diversity within the academic program and among relationships with peers, faculty, and administrators.
Implications for Furthering Diversity and Inclusion
In the common departmental, decentralized, graduate admissions process, department chairs, program coordinators, and faculty select graduate school applicants for the masters and doctoral programs. Garces (2012) made the observation that faculty tend to lean toward homosocial reproduction and chose to admit only candidates like themselves. Faculty in all programs should be encouraged to embrace a more expanded heterosocial admission and recruitment perspective in order to include more diverse student populations. Either philosophy stands to affect subsequent graduate student socialization processes as well as what types of students enter a profession's pipeline.
Due to racial disparities, we advocate for more support in academic preparation, inequitable academic exposure, and stratification of college types/programs. For example, Felder et al., (2014) found that the students' perceptions of advisement may be influenced by the degree (Ed.D. vs. PhD) being pursued. There were racial implications surrounding the selection of degree, which subsequently influenced student academic success and career development (Felder et al.). Ultimately, students of color should expect the door to all fields to be open and welcoming.
With regard to student socialization, this poses challenges for faculty and administrations to fund and measure the effectiveness of ways to improve student-faculty relationships. Increasing diverse pools of underrepresented students in graduate programs means greater university, school, and department attention to student financial needs. In terms of the professionalization process, more diverse pools of onsite, internship and practicum supervisors increase numbers of possible mentors for its program entrants. Campuses must be aware of students' needs as finances affect retention, while diversity affects socialization and professionalization (Griffin et al., 2012).
Graduate program curriculums should incorporate diverse viewpoints and readings to encourage greater perspective and student inclusion, as well as promote more class discussion (Ramirez, 2014). The expansion of sociopolitical dynamics should include diversity in academic capital and canon. Required readings and projects need to integrate multicultural perspectives and disciplines to further develop intellectual development (Felder et al., 2014; Griffin, et al., 2016; Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016). Diversity issues need to be woven through courses either through readings or experiential approaches to course assignments, practicums, and/ or internship activities. Curriculums should aim for greater cultural relevance and address the graduate's professional need for multicultural competence and tolerance. Group course assignments can team diverse students together to facilitate greater peer interaction.
Faculty should also encourage co-curricular activities to support diversity including collaborative research, presentation, and publication options as well as campus service learning initiatives. Racial dilemmas and micro-aggressions such as the lack of faculty support of a research agenda that focuses on racial issues is an example of the sociopolitical dynamics in academic programs that can hinder socialization (Felder et al., 2014; McGaskey, 2015; Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016). Encouraging student research that addresses diverse issues broadens the knowledge base. In addition, this serves to ease tension related to isolation and thereby, encourage acceptance among student cohorts while modeling simultaneously, aspects of research and professional practice (Stadler, Suhyan, Cobia, Middleton, & Carney, 2006). For instance, training in marriage and family therapy graduate programs encompasses cultural diversity sensitivity training approaches to introduce healing treatments, contextual clinical practice settings, and varieties of physical and relational problems (Woolley, 2010) that are important to graduate student professionalization.
One factor that constrained women's progress to their doctoral degree revolved around finding "the right mentor or advisor" as this holds implications for completing or delaying program completion (Maher, Ford, & Thompson, 2004, p. 391). Another factor revolved around peer help and support. Additional obstacles centered on "useful coursework, ... a productive research experience, ... a great dissertation opportunity," and possessing the necessary preparation to undertake the research study (Maher, et al., p. 393). Identifying the right academic (and professional) mentors are critical to effective socialization and professionalization (Twale, 2014).
In order to find a mentor, some female students sought secondary advisors or mentors who in addition to contributing to their scholarly or professional life also showed interest in their personal lives (Noy & Ray, 2012). While not all students need that personal connection, for those who do deem it necessary culturally and/or professionally, the ability to locate multiple mentors in the department and onsite in the professional setting is critical to effective socialization and professionalization.
Professional organizations should be instrumental in developing mentoring opportunities as well as encouraging their membership to sponsor students of color (Byrd, Razani, Suarez, Lafosse, Manly, & Attix, 2010). The presence and continuance of multicultural and graduate student organizations, programs, and peer mentoring builds a sense of community for graduate students of color like African-American students that is vitally critical to their socialization (Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016). For instance, the professional association for educational administrators, UCEA, sponsors a mentoring program for advanced graduate students of color seeking to be Pk-12 and higher education administrators. This expanded pool of mentors is especially critical when the gender and racial balance in an academic program means that some students may be disadvantaged. Furthermore, departments must be willing to financially support graduate students to assure they can attend conferences to meet with these mentors. Mentors in this program represent nationally recognized faculty and scholars in this field. Exposure to these mentors assists students with role, modeling, networking, and job placement, while affording them a cultural connection to their field.
Several authors suggest ways to improve mentoring and advising. If recruiting diverse graduate students becomes a goal in an administrative strategic plan, recruitment and admission of diverse students must be accompanied by supportive departmental, college, university, and onsite structures, resources, and practices that ensure quality mentoring, advising, and supervision (Waymer, 2012). This may mean limiting admissions so every student has adequate advising and mentoring or expanding the pool of mentors to include off campus and offsite professionals. Johnson-Bailey et al. (2009) suggested that we update faculty in diversity issues including how they obtain student information and communicate to them as well as how faculty relate to various diverse student populations.
For greater effectiveness, faculty and professional mentors should be trained. Griffin et al (2016) analyzed graduate diversity officers' strategies to promote building relationships with faculty. They found that working directly with faculty to inform them about students' concerns helped to improve diversity climate and culture. This included building good relationships between students and faculty such as mentoring programs to create opportunities for more explicit norms, clear faculty expectations, and purposeful student-faculty relationships. Majority faculty and students also need to be aware of racial sensitivity in classroom discussions. Winkle-Wagner and McCoy (2016) explained that graduate programs should offer socialization activities that value and incorporate multiculturalism and diversity in students' academic work and discipline more generally. Administrators must offer rewards for effective faculty advising and mentoring (Gasman, et al., 2008; Twale 2014).
Peer mentoring may help students from low socioeconomic status overcome perceived barriers in graduate school (Warnock & Appel 2012). Those unfamiliar with academe or intimidated by faculty may obtain support and comfort in the early stages of their program from advanced graduate students. Mentoring from peers should be supplemental to mentoring and advising from program faculty and not seen as the primary mode of mentoring.
There are two important points to expand the Weidman-Twale-Stein (2001) model and account for the need for institutional change in order to implement better support systems for African-American graduate student development: (a) expanding student's development and (b) the programs' sociocultural climate and context. First, the model needs to acknowledge the importance of race in graduate student development. Higher learning pursuits develop cognitive abilities and social status. For example, due to the risk and protective aspects of race and racial experiences, African-American racial identity must be considered as a part of the socialization process in terms of how racial identity and background of students serve as factors that shape their racial beliefs and attitudes while attending classes, interacting with faculty, and conducting scholarship. Secondly, in order to expand the model of graduate socialization, we must move from a psycho-social understanding of racial identity to a sociocultural understanding. In other words how does an aspect of sociocultural identity such as race impact the graduate program at the student's entry, formal and informal interactions, and/or personal internalization of scholarship?
Socialization can be described through cultural and social capital acquisition where successful internalization of knowledge, norms, and skills results in the rewards of cultural and social attainment, mobility, and status in academia (Bourdieu, 1986; Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977; Gopaul, 2016; Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016). These are critical components of their graduate experience and the acquisition of cultural capital (Gopual, 2016; Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016). The model includes core elements in the academic socialization process: knowledge acquisition can be explained as securing capital such as teaching or research assistantships, publications, and merit-based aid/ scholarships (Gopaul, 2011; Mendoza, et al., 2014); investment encompasses support for achieving academic milestones for degree completion, and involvement includes student-faculty as well as peer relationships (Bancroft, et al., 2016; Cole & Griffin, 2013; Felder, et al., 2014; Gopaul, 2016; Griffin, et al., 2016; McGaskey, 2015; Mendoza, et al., 2014; Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016). This can be further explained by achieving academic milestones, establishing a research agenda, publishing manuscripts, building scholarship and conferencing, and securing external funding (Austin, 2002; Austin & McDaniels, 2006; Gardner, 2007; Golde & Walker, 2006; Gopaul, 2016; Winkle-Wagner & McCoy, 2016). Through fostering knowledge of the department/discipline and academia as well as developing students' skills, competencies, and knowledge, students are able to acquire cultural and social capital to succeed in doctoral programs. Examples included how the student-faculty relationship developed social capital for African-American students to support their development, self-efficacy, and confidence.
As two senior faculty, John and Darla have supervised numerous masters and doctoral students. John served as dissertation chair for both Darla and Kathryn (30 years apart). Darla's mentoring practices, however differ from John's such that Darla involved her students in professional activities and provided them with the support she needed as a female doctoral student which she felt she did not receive. John notes that his mentoring of doctoral students evolved over time and informed his development of the model of graduate and professional student socialization (Weidman, et al., 2001), followed by the expanded research resulting from it.
Both John and Darla supervised and mentored based upon their perspectives as white male and white female. Our goal remains to provide all students with what we feel they need to succeed knowing it may not be all they really need or desire based on differences we do not share with all our students. Kathryn's perspective as an African-American female alerted us to the need for faculty to be aware not only of student cross-racial [and cross-gender] differences but also to be mindful that our commonalities [professionalism, love of discipline] should not be undervalued (Antony, 2002; Barker, 2011). Therefore, graduate programs play a significant role in the educational pursuit of students of color, especially African-American students. Yet, this does not diminish, but rather magnifies the importance of race/ethnicity in students' educational experiences. Furthermore, the students' perceptions of racial/ethnic experiences in the form of professional and personal norms and expectations become more significant to our graduate student socialization model. Based on what we have learned from the literature focused specifically on issues related directly to African-American graduate students, we are more convinced than ever that research as well as theory must continue to expand our knowledge concerning the significance of race/ethnicity in graduate student socialization.
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Darla J. Twale--University of Pittsburgh
John C. Weidman--University of Pittsburgh
Kathryn Bethea--University of Pittsburgh
Darla Twale retired last year after having taught at Auburn University, the University of Dayton, and the University of Pittsburgh. She has published books on faculty incivility.
John C. Weidman is Professor of Higher and International Development Education at the University of Pittsburgh. He published comprehensive model which addressed undergraduate socialization, and was later applied to graduate students.
Kathryn A. Bethea is Chair of the College Success 101 Collaborative and has worked as an advocate for diversity for over 10 years in various faculty and staff positions. Her research interests include higher education s role in equity, access, and the experiences of students of color in postsecondary education.
Caption: Figure 1. Diversity Summary
Caption: Figure 2. Conceptualizing Graduate Student Socialization: Re-visiting the Weidman-Twale-Stein Model (adapted from Weidman, 2006; Weidman, et al., 2001) *
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|Author:||Twale, Darla J.; Weidman, John C.; Bethea, Kathryn|
|Publication:||The Western Journal of Black Studies|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2016|
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