Becoming a "Science Person": Faculty Recognition and the Development of Cultural Capital in the Context of Undergraduate Biology Research
CBE - Life Sciences Education
We argue that cultural capital plays an underexamined role in students' recognition as budding scientists by faculty. By triangulating interview data from undergraduates and faculty mentors in a multi-institutional biology research network, we identified a set of intersecting domains of capital that help render students recognizable to faculty. We argue that faculty recognition often reflects a (mis)alignment between the cultural capital that students possess and display and what faculty expect
... what faculty expect to see. To understand why mis- or underrecognition occurs, and how this influenced students' opportunities to further develop cultural capital, we explored our data set for patterns of explanation. Several key themes cut across students' experiences and influenced their recognition by faculty: Faculty more easily recognized students interested in research science trajectories and those involved in institutional programs to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics success. Students with competing family responsibilities struggled to maintain faculty recognition. Finally, faculty who broadened their scopes of recognition were able to affirm the science identities of students with fewer incoming cultural resources in science and support their development of capital. Students can and do develop scientific cultural capital through practice, but this requires access to research and mentorship that explicitly teaches students the implicit "rules of the game."