Many programs and interventions have been designed and implemented to entice women into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors and careers, however, there continues to be incongruity between genders. This discrepancy between males and females pursuing STEM degrees and jobs has impacted the educational and economic growth of the United States by not meeting the demands of the current workforce, nor does it prepare enough highly educated and skilled individuals in STEM fields needed to meet the demands of the 2028 workforce. Although these demands are apparent, women are still less likely to pursue STEM education and careers. Previous research determined that negative female gender stereotypes and biases are associated with this lack of women in STEM, and notes that lack of community and societal impacts, as well as unwelcoming work atmospheres, are other mitigating concerns affecting their educational and career decision-making.
The purpose of this dissertation study was to investigate and discover what role immersive STEM-based Living-Learning Programs (LLP or L/L) could have in encouraging and enticing young women to pursue STEM majors and careers, securing not only their futures, but advancing the economic and social growth of the country. This mixed methods study aimed to uncover the effectiveness of an immersive STEM-based LLP on high school students’ career content knowledge and Career Decision Self-Efficacy (CDSE), which is the confidence that one has in their ability to participate in educational career planning and preparation, as well as the decision-making that those inquiries, and skills, require. Specifically, this research explored the impact and usefulness of communal learning and near-peer mentoring relationships on the CDSE of both female and male students. This study applied Social Constructivism, Social Cognitivism, and Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) as its theoretical framework, however, Feminist Theory did emerge. The immersive STEM-based LLP used in this study significantly impacted the CDSE and career content knowledge of its participants. The findings illustrate the role of the university-hosted LLP structure in encouraging and supporting young women to pursue STEM fields, specifically the influential interactions and personality traits of near-peer mentors, the lived educational experiences, and the collaborative learning and living with both peers and near-peers.
|Advisor:||Semich, George W.|
|Commitee:||Bernadowski, Carianne, Hansen, Mary A.|
|School:||Robert Morris University|
|Department:||Instructional Management and Leadership|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/9(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Science education, Womens studies|
|Keywords:||Career decision self-efficacy, Communal learning, Female empowerment, Living-learning programs, Near-peer mentorship, Women in STEM|
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