Panel Paper: Role Models, Aid, or Peer Effects? Correlates of Persistence in STEM Majors

Thursday, November 8, 2018
8229 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Margaret E. Blume-Kohout, Colgate University

Using a newly-developed institutional administrative dataset from a large, public Minority-Serving Institution with student-level observations merged with publicly available statistical data, we examine the relative importance of several factors that influence undergraduates’ persistence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degree programs. Previous studies have indicated that women students who take introductory STEM courses with women faculty instructors are more likely to earn STEM degrees, and women students are more likely to be dissuaded from continuing in STEM degrees when they earn lower grades in STEM courses, or when the share of foreign students is increasing. We examine women’s persistence beyond introductory general chemistry and calculus as a function of their high school characteristics, multiple measures of ability, the shares of female and foreign students in their section of the course, and instructor demographics. We also consider the relative effectiveness of aid-related policy interventions like Department of Education SMART grants—a program for Pell-eligible students majoring in STEM—in supporting broader participation of lower-income students in STEM majors, and ultimately STEM degree completion.