Experiences of racial microaggressions, relational mentoring, and social connectedness among doctoral students of color within counselor education programs

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shreya V. Vaishnav (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Kelly Wester

Abstract: In educational systems, students of color experience oppression and subtle forms of racism (i.e., microaggressions), often directed towards them by their peers and faculty in the program (Gildersleeve, Croom, & Vasquez, 2011; Kohli & Solorzano, 2012; McCabe, 2009; Sue, Lin, Capodilupo, Torino, & Rivera, 2009). As a result, students of color experience discomfort, self-doubt, exhaustion, and isolation (Gildersleeve et al., 2011; McCabe, 2009). Further, race related experiences (such as microaggressions) in academia have been noted to impact an individual’s social connectedness (or sense of belonging) with peers, faculty, and the academic program (Clark, Mercer, Zeigler-Hill, & Dufrene, 2012; Solorzano, 1998; Suarez-Orozco et al., 2015). There is a need to quantify the impact of racial microaggressions on social connectedness in a heterogeneous sample that can be generalized to students of color in higher education, and more specifically to doctoral students of color in Counselor Education (CE). As doctoral programs recruit more students of color, we must strive to examine the dominant discourse that inadvertently oppresses students of color in academia, specifically the important role of mentoring in fostering social connectedness in CE programs. The purpose of this study was to address the gap in literature on the prevalence of racial microaggressions in CE programs and to examine how racial microaggressions and the moderating role of mentoring by one’s advisor/dissertation chair could impact doctoral students of color’s social connectedness within their academic program. A descriptive, correlational design was utilized to examine this impact of racial microaggressions and the buffering relationship of relational mentoring on social connectedness. Relational Cultural Theory (RCT; Miller, 1976, 1986) was the theoretical framework used to boundary the relationship between racial microaggressions and social connectedness because it explained the overall negative impact of racial microaggressions on social connectedness. Results from this study indicated that racial microaggressions do exist in CE programs and negatively impact the social connectedness of doctoral students of color within their academic department. Further, relational mentoring by a dissertation chair/academic advisor did buffer this impact of racial microaggressions on social connectedness. The results provide important outcomes for counselor educators and CE programs as we strive to promote diversity, equity, recruitment, and retention of doctoral students of color. Implications for counselor educators, doctoral students, and researchers are discussed based on the results of the study.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Counselor Education, Doctoral Students of Color, Mentoring, Racial Microaggressions, Relational Cultural Theory, Social Connectedness
Mentoring in education
Belonging (Social psychology)
Racism in higher education
Counseling $x Study and teaching (Graduate)

Email this document to