June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Educational Research and Methods
13.55.1 - 13.55.14
A Method for Predicting Post-Secondary Educational Outcomes Abstract
Identifying potential engineering students and understanding what affects their choice of college major is critical to engineering educational research. Insufficient numbers of students are majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) topics. Understanding the factors that affect students’ interest in studying STEM, capability of succeeding in STEM, and likelihood of persisting to achieve a STEM degree is of vital concern to educators.
This study used an extensive national longitudinal dataset of over 12,000 students to develop a set of logistic regression models for predicting which students ultimately achieve a STEM degree vs. another educational outcome. The potential educational outcomes included no college degree, a less than four year college degree, a Non-STEM college degree, a STEM college degree, and a newly proposed category of STEM-Related college degree. Another model comparing the probability of STEM vs. all the other possible outcomes combined was also constructed. The resulting models demonstrated strong predictive accuracy in discriminating between a STEM degree and an alternative educational outcome. The predictive accuracy of the models was examined with Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) Curves. Several measures of student academic capability, prior academic performance, attitudes, experiences, and family influences were consistently found to be statistically significant predictors of STEM.
The progression of students through the American educational system from kindergarten to acquisition of a college degree is a lengthy process. At present, the quantity of students that complete degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is not sufficient1. The volume of undergraduates enrolled from 1992 to 2004 increased steadily2. However, the pattern of degrees earned from 1996 through 2005 indicates that only small increases have occurred in the bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees achieved by U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The number of mathematics degrees earned during this period also exhibited little growth. The volume of full-time graduate students increased but the number earning advanced degrees in other science topics exhibited slight increases or declines through 20013.
Producing STEM degree-holders is a process that depends upon the students, educators, and the means by which students are educated. The students are a vital portion of the raw materials to this process and issues that affect their quantity and quality also affect the resulting number of degree-holders. Studying this process in order to identify significant factors that affect the production of degree-holders could provide a guide towards improving the process. A methodology to test the effect of these factors could aid in designing an intervention program to encourage and assist more students in pursuing a college degree in STEM.
Developing such a methodology starts with examining the work of education researchers who have explored the motivations of students and the predictors of student success in school. Variables found by other education researchers to have been significant predictors of STEM interest, persistence, and successes are a natural starting point for this analysis.
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