Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Joy Blanchard

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Eric Dwyer

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Isadore Newman

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Keywords

Retention, STEM, College Student Success, Higher Education

Date of Defense

9-23-2014

Abstract

For the past several years, U.S. colleges and universities have faced increased pressure to improve retention and graduation rates. At the same time, educational institutions have placed a greater emphasis on the importance of enrolling more students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs and producing more STEM graduates. The resulting problem faced by educators involves finding new ways to support the success of STEM majors, regardless of their pre-college academic preparation. The purpose of my research study involved utilizing first-year STEM majors’ math SAT scores, unweighted high school GPA, math placement test scores, and the highest level of math taken in high school to develop models for predicting those who were likely to pass their first math and science courses. In doing so, the study aimed to provide a strategy to address the challenge of improving the passing rates of those first-year students attempting STEM-related courses. The study sample included 1018 first-year STEM majors who had entered the same large, public, urban, Hispanic-serving, research university in the Southeastern U.S. between 2010 and 2012. The research design involved the use of hierarchical logistic regression to determine the significance of utilizing the four independent variables to develop models for predicting success in math and science. The resulting data indicated that the overall model of predictors (which included all four predictor variables) was statistically significant for predicting those students who passed their first math course and for predicting those students who passed their first science course. Individually, all four predictor variables were found to be statistically significant for predicting those who had passed math, with the unweighted high school GPA and the highest math taken in high school accounting for the largest amount of unique variance. Those two variables also improved the regression model’s percentage of correctly predicting that dependent variable. The only variable that was found to be statistically significant for predicting those who had passed science was the students’ unweighted high school GPA. Overall, the results of my study have been offered as my contribution to the literature on predicting first-year student success, especially within the STEM disciplines.

Identifier

FI14110703

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