Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Predictors of Student Persistence in the STEM Pipeline: Activities Outside the Classroom, Parent Aspirations, and Student Self-Beliefs using NELS:88 Data
by Miller, Joelle A., Ph.D., Notre Dame of Maryland University, 2015, 208; 3684530
Abstract (Summary)

Focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) literacy is a national priority for the United States. As competition increases internationally for scientific and technological innovations, the United States is concentrating on building its STEM capacity (Stephens, 2011). Despite the numerous STEM reform efforts there continues to be a decline in STEM graduates and STEM competencies (McNally, 2012; Langdon, Mckittrick, Beede, Doms, & Khan, 2011; Herschback, 2011). With attention focused on increasing STEM college majors and occupations among the student population, the current research investigation centered on the role of parent aspirations, student self-beliefs, and activities outside the classroom to determine the outcome of middle and high school students choosing a STEM college major. Research suggested that students formulate their degree attainment during their middle and high school years, and even earlier (Roach, 2006; Maltese & Tai, 2011); therefore, it was logical to investigate STEM persistence during middle and high school years.

The study analyzed NELS:88, a longitudinal national public data set created by the National Center for Educational Statistics that used 12,144 participants. The students' self-reported data spanned over a 12-year period. Students completed five surveys in the NELS:88 data collection (NCES, 2011). Binary and multivariate logistical regressions determined if activities outside the classroom, parent aspirations, and student self-beliefs influenced STEM college majors. Conclusions of the study found significant relationships between the variables and STEM persistence. Individuals who participated in STEM activities after school were more likely to major in STEM (p<.001,Exp(B)=1.106). There was a significant positive relationship between parent aspirations and increased odds of choosing a STEM major (p<.0001, Exp(B)=1.041). There was a significant relationship between student self-beliefs and choosing a STEM major as students with higher self-beliefs had a decreased odds of choosing a non-STEM major (p<.05, Exp(B)=.988). When all three variables were considered together, self-beliefs were no longer significant (p<.166) but parent aspirations, (p<.0001, Exp(B)=1.034) and activities outside of the classroom (p<.0001, Exp(B)=1.097), both significantly predicted STEM participation.

The results of the research inform policy makers in regard to funding decisions and the development of programs, especially ones that occur outside of the school day. The analysis may guide decisions for school administrators on how to influence student retention within the STEM pipeline. The findings add to existing research and provide a better understanding of predictors affecting student persistence in STEM.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Connor, Bridget
Commitee: Fenster, Mark, Murray, Katherine C.
School: Notre Dame of Maryland University
Department: Department of Education
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 76/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Educational evaluation, School administration, Educational psychology, Science education
Keywords: After school activities, Education, Parent aspirations, Pipeline, STEM, Self efficacy
Publication Number: 3684530
ISBN: 978-1-321-59704-2
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