Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"It's been a long journey": Exploring educationally mobile students' transition into STEM majors at a university
by Arreygue, Aimee, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2014, 238; 3674331
Abstract (Summary)

Today, one third of all college students are considered educationally "mobile," which means they will change institutions during their undergraduate careers. The concept of educational mobility challenges the traditional idea of students moving through an educational pipeline in a linear fashion, and recognizes that many of today's students, including those in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), will have multiple transition points.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the transitional experiences of educationally mobile students moving into and through the STEM disciplines at a public university. Students who move from one educational environment to another undergo a significant transition process, and understanding this process for individual students and the institution's role in supporting transition has implications for educational policy. Grounded in the conceptual framework guided by Schlossberg's Transition Theory, and Swail, Redd, and Perna's Geometric Model for Student Persistence and Achievement, this study explores the following research question: How do students who are educationally mobile experience academic, social, and institutional support while transitioning into and through STEM disciplines at a four-year public university?

Eighteen science and mathematics majors participated in this study, all of whom attended at least one institution of higher education prior to their current attendance at Mountain View University, a four-year comprehensive Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in Southern California. Participants were interviewed utilizing a semi-structured interview protocol and completed a demographic questionnaire as well. Trustworthiness measures included member checking and peer debriefing.

The findings of this study show that educationally mobile students are savvy agents of their education, and make personal and professional sacrifices in their pursuit of a STEM degree. They want to connect to like-minded individuals on campus, and make efforts to seek help. Findings also show that institutional agents play an important role in helping educationally mobile students navigate institutional obstacles in the transition process. Recommendations include increased dialogue about articulation and the transfer processes among institutions, engaging in more consistent advising practices (both at the community college and the university), enabling purposeful social interactions during the transition process, and researching disaggregated populations of educationally mobile students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Haviland, Don
Commitee: Foster, Dyrell, Locks, Angela
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, School counseling, Science education, Higher education
Keywords: Advising practices, California, College transition, Educationally mobile students, Hispanic Serving Institution, Mountain View University, STEM fields, Transfer students
Publication Number: 3674331
ISBN: 978-1-321-27674-9
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