Despite national ongoing efforts to increase diverse representation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate degree programs, not all women who begin their first year in STEM will graduate in STEM. Data from the National Center for Educational Statistics reports a national persistence rate for undergraduate women in STEM of only 11.4%. This problem presents inequities at the institutional level, reflects a national gender wage gap, and contributes to an overall homogenous STEM workforce. Many foundational studies have shown a strong relationship between student academic self-concept and achievement outcomes, such as persistence. This research shows that academic self-concept is an important factor in student success outcomes, yet more research is needed on the influence of campus climate on academic self-concept.
The overall purpose of this study was to better understand how undergraduate campus climate influences the academic self-concept of undergraduate women pursuing a STEM degree. The Multi-Contextual Model for Diverse Learning Environments conceptual framework guided the variable selection and data analysis for this quantitative study. Using a non-experimental correlational research design with a longitudinal data set, analysis procedures included a dependent samples t-test, independent samples t-tests, one-way analysis of variance, and a hierarchical linear regression.
Results demonstrated campus climate was not correlated with academic self-concept, which could be due to the variables comprised within the composite. Men had significantly higher academic self-concept scores than women at both first-year entry and at graduation. In addition, significant differences arose in women’s academic self-concept scores by ethnicity. Regression analysis showed that student-faculty interaction was the most significant predictor of
positive academic self-concept for women graduating with a STEM degree. Each increase in student-faculty interaction score contributed to an increase in academic self-concept, meaning faculty play a critical role in women’s perceptions of their academic abilities in STEM. This study presents important implications for Deans, Associate Deans, and other educational leaders of STEM undergraduate programs for developing new initiatives and engaging faculty members. Recommendations include a review of institutional admissions policies, more intentional student-faculty interactions with women in STEM, and the inclusion of more specific variables in future campus climate research.
|Commitee:||Sawatzky, Misty, Klima, Kerry|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
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