Date: August 2016
Creator: Gonzales, Erin E
Description: Despite an increasing demand for college graduates skilled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ("STEM") fields, a substantial number of students who choose these majors leave after taking their first-year "gateway" math and science coursework. Research has shown GPA to be a salient predictor of persistence in STEM majors: Students who earn high grades in gateway courses are more likely to continue, and those who earn low grades are more likely to leave. However, a small number of students defy that expectation: Despite a low gateway course GPA, they persist not just to the sophomore year but all the way to graduation. The purpose of this study was to determine what other experiences, motivations, or attributes aside from academic performance influence these students to persist. A qualitative approach was taken with the use of semi-structured interviews, which provided a means for analysis based on insights directly from students. An invitation was sent to a cohort of graduating math and science majors at a large public institution, and 10 eligible volunteers were chosen to participate. A thematic analysis was conducted to seek common themes in the students' interviews regarding their experiences in their gateway coursework, their feelings towards their chosen major, ...
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