• 39th CSUN Assistive Technology Conference - March 18-22, 2024 at the Anaheim Marriott

    The Premier AT Conference

39th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

Virtual STEM Mentoring Models for Students with Disabilities

Date & Time
Wednesday, March 20, 2024 - 9:20 AM PDT  
Platinum 7  
The online mentoring of students with disabilities has been shown to improve their retention in STEM education and careers. We examined what an effective mentoring model would look like based on students' preferences of being mentored for various research skills and topics specific to students with disabilities, across a range of communication paradigms. To achieve this, we conducted closed card sorting sessions and interviews with 8 students with disabilities to illustrate their mental models around the mentorship communication paradigm, in which, students sorted components of mentorship across communication modal categories and explained their thought process behind the sort. Our findings indicated a consensus across 75% of the component/category sets, indicating that student mental models for mentorship are similar. We also noticed a similarity in the pattern of sorting for online and neurodivergent learners. These findings led us to reflect on the factors that cause a similar mentorship expectation across these learners, and helped us define the criteria that a mobile, online mentorship platform for this population should contain. In addition, we developed the "Theory of Virtual Integration", which will advance the efforts towards improving the persistence of this population in STEM. Through our presentation, we would like to discuss in detail the insights we discovered, the platform criteria we formed and the broader implications these would have on the field.  
  • Higher Education
  • Information & Communications Technology
  • Disability Specific
  • Research & Development
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
Providing students with disabilities with the right mentorship support helps retain them in STEM. In this session, we will discuss the mentorship model we uncovered, how it applies to an online platform, and the impact it has for the field.  
Primary Topic
Secondary Topics
  • Digital Accessibility
  • Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Mobile Technology
  • Research
Session Type
General Track  


  • Beverly Vaz
    Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Maureen Linden
    Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Nathan Moon
    Georgia Institute of Technology

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