An Empirical Evaluation of Developmental Networks and Mentoring Practices Effect on Doctoral Science Training
This study aimed at examining the impact of doctoral mentoring practices (DMP) and of developmental networks (DN) on the doctoral training practices (DTP) of students enrolled in selected elite doctoral science programs in three East Asian countries. It focuses on these social aspects that potentially enhance and/or diversify training practices that develop scientific occupational competencies. The recognition that mentoring during career development may be available from a variety of individuals beyond the traditional dyadic mentor-mentee relationship led this study to examine the impact of students’ developmental networks. The approach taken is novel in that the developmental network typology has yet to be systematically and empirically examined. The population investigated comprised students in chemical science doctoral training programs at elite universities in Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan. A sample of n = 115 students, stratified by university and by country, participated in structured face-to-face interviews that collected information on DMP, DTP, and egocentric networks. Network information was utilized to identify respondents’ developmental network type based on diversity of alters' sector (e.g. academia, government, industry, etc.) and ego-alter tie strength. Two sets of principal component analysis, one for the 15 original DMP items and another for the 17 original DTP items, were performed to examine the effect of DN and of DMP on DTP. It was found that students who reported that their advisor engaged in mentoring activities that involved career and psychosocial support also reported enhanced engagement in leadership-driven training practices. Enhanced engagement with sources of training and learning outside of the lab was also found. There was no evidence that developmental network types influenced DTP. Hence, it is recommended that institutions of higher education formulate and monitor the outcomes of policies that foster the development of mentoring practices among faculty. This would aid in the preparation of doctoral students for work within and outside of academia. Further exploration and improvement of the empirical application of the developmental network typology in doctoral science training is also suggested.