Date of Award
PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy
Education Leadership, Management and Policy
Rong Chen, PhD
Robert Kelchen, PhD
Marybeth Boger, PhD
STEM, persistence, college, two-factor theory, undergraduate
This study investigated the persistence of undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors through two-factor theory. Proxies for STEM persistence factors were used as hygiene and motivator factors, which were categories of two-factor theory originally conceptualized to understand workplace determinants that extrinsically and intrinsically motivate employees. A two-block entry model was used to test multinomial regression analysis with outcomes for persisting in STEM, degree incompletion, and changing to a non-STEM major. This study also examined differential relationships of motivator factors across sex, race, and ethnicity due to underrepresentation in STEM fields. Data for this study were extracted from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), a nationally represented survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
Among hygiene factors, the findings demonstrated that students with at least one parent with a bachelor’s degree, attending a highly selective institution, and being able to pay for at least half of tuition and fees in the first term of study predicted whether STEM students remained in college. An additional hygiene factor of faculty interaction outside the classroom was also significantly associated with remaining in a STEM major rather than switching majors. This study also found that significance of undergraduate research, first-year GPA, and total GPA predicted STEM persistence as motivator factors. An additional motivator factor, receiving mentorship, was also associated with staying in a STEM major. A test of interaction terms also demonstrated that the effect of motivator factors does not vary by sex or race/ethnicity. Recommendations are discussed in support of the consideration of fostering intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in STEM persistence policy and interventions, as well as recommendations for future research.
Pedraza, Leo D., "Examining STEM Undergraduate Persistence and the Differential Relationships Across Sex, Race, and Ethnicity Through Two-Factor Theory" (2019). Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). 2639.