Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Dionne P. Stephens

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Asia A. Eaton

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Sarah L. Eddy

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Robert Lickliter

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Hispanic, undergraduate, STEM persistence, STEM identity, culture, context

Date of Defense



This dissertation examines the influences of context and culture on Hispanic undergraduate’s in the STEM pipeline. Study one utilized systematic review methods to assess the effectiveness of STEM intervention programs on Hispanic undergraduates. A total of 45 STEM related databases were searched from March-September 2020 with no limitations. Although a total of 259 studies were identified, only one study was actually found to specifically focus on Hispanic populations and include empirically based evaluations. The one remaining study did not find a statistically significant intervention effect for four- year graduation rates. The lack of evidence highlights a gap in research or tackling increased representation for Hispanic students in STEM and identifies the need for methodological changes in the way STEM interventions are evaluated. Study two utilized qualitative content analysis methods to identify Hispanic STEM majors perceptions of both supports and barriers in their STEM degree pathways. Two short answer questions exploring barriers and supports were asked of 947 Hispanic undergraduate, STEM majors. Our findings revealed nuanced perspectives that illuminated the importance of financial access, family, teacher, and peer support, as well as acknowledgement for the role of experiences unique to Hispanic groups. These findings illuminate the importance of respect and inclusion of Hispanic culture with regards to increasing Hispanic representation in STEM. Study three examined how cultural factors influence Hispanic undergraduate’s perception of themselves and career aspirations using the integrative theoretical models of Relational Developmental Systems Theory (RDST) and Relational Cultural Theory (RCT). A total of 947 Hispanic undergraduates completed an ethnic identity, familismo beliefs, career aspirations, STEM retention, and STEM identity questionnaires. SEM analyses revealed model relationships were significant and positive for both Hispanic men and women, however, these models differed in strength of relationships among some of the constructs.







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