The Two-Year Journey through the STEM Pipeline: Examining the Institutional Contexts for Community College Students
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This study seeks to examine STEM pathways for historically underrepresented racial minority (URM) students who began at community colleges, with a specific emphasis on student mobility across multiple institutions. The conceptual model for this study is informed by Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT), which seeks to explain the processes that occur within career development by examining three interlocking models of interest development, career choice, and performance (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994). SCCT is a useful framework for deconstructing and understanding how people make career decisions, develop interests, and deal with the barriers that arise in their educational and career pathways. The SCCT framework informs the conceptual model and the following research questions: While controlling for student mobility, student characteristics, experiences, and institutional contexts influence STEM persistence and degree attainment among students who began college at a two-year institution? Multilevel modeling is used to explore a national, longitudinal sample of students who began postsecondary education at two-year public colleges and pursued majors in STEM fields. Findings from this study help to solidify a better understanding of the student characteristics, experiences, and institutional contexts that influence community college students’ persistence and attainment in STEM. Connecting these results to recent policy and national efforts, implications for education administrators, practitioners, and researchers are highlighted.