Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Jeannine Dingus-Eason

Second Supervisor

Chinwe Ikpeze


Research has indicated that the United States is lagging behind the rest of the world in producing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors and career professionals. The National Science Foundation has launched one particular initiative to address this need which is centered on underrepresented communities. Matching mentoring dyads based on similar social identities may provide necessary role models (Davidson & Foster-Johnson, 2001) and unlock subjugated knowledge (Collins 2000) about how to be both deaf and scientist. Among their underrepresented counterparts, deaf individuals are disproportionately underrepresented in STEM careers (NSF, 2011). The leakage in the STEM pipeline between undergraduate enrollment and the awarding of doctoral degrees to deaf students may be attributed, in part, to a lack of individuals in academic mentoring roles who are deaf; sharing the same social circumstances and characteristics as these students (Mertens & Hopson, 2006). Understanding the experience of deaf scholars and deaf students engaged in formally mentored undergraduate research efforts is helpful in determining the appropriate long term plans and strategies necessary to promote growth of deaf people entering STEM fields. This phenomenological study captured the experiences of three deaf mentoring dyads operating in undergraduate research laboratories. Informed by the subjugated knowledge framework (Collins, 2000), participants described the nature of their mentoring dyad and the nature and content of subjugated knowledge extended to deaf mentees. This process was identified as central to and helping deaf undergraduates to develop as both deaf individuals and ultimately deaf scientists. This study employed a triangulated data set, including semi-structured individual interviews with deaf mentors and deaf mentees, dyad interviews, and document collection. From data analysis, three themes emerged: (a) The “Psychology Of Deaf Space”, (b), How To Be A Deaf Scientist: Building Navigational Capital, and (c) Deaf Role Models: Transforming Experiences. The findings from this study inform undergraduate faculty and administrators in higher education on the importance of having deaf mentors as a part of the deaf undergraduate students’ success in the STEM arena. This study also offers to hearing mentors and administrators a series of recommendations for supporting deaf students with whom they may be working in isolation. These individuals have many opportunities to support the individual deaf student as the student works to successfully navigates predominantly hearing STEM communities.

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