Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Educational Research and Methods
Retention in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs is a national problem. Although many studies have attempted to identify characteristics of students at high risk of attrition and other interventions to aid these populations, few have adequately questioned the metric of success itself: retention. To be specific, “retention” tracks only the percentage of students who begin their undergraduate career in a chosen major and successfully matriculate, which may be too coarse of a measure for several reasons: (1) it counts as successes students who remain in an initially chosen STEM major, but flounder, (2) it counts as failures students who leave their initially chosen STEM major, but flourish, and (3) it ignores entirely students who begin within non-STEM majors and transfer into a STEM cohort. This work introduces a new metric of success to address these issues: the Retention Index for STEM Excellence (RISE). The RISE asserts that failure to retain may not be a failure of the program but rather a failure of advising to match interests to fields of study or to correct misconceptions of the one initially chosen. By viewing major selection as a dynamic system rather than a single and final choice, the RISE offers a student-centered and discipline-specialized approach to advising that can help students find their proper home in STEM fields both before and after entering college. This work motivates, defines, and then deploys the RISE on the past decade of student transcripts from Loyola Marymount University’s Seaver College of Science and Engineering. Significant differences on the RISE are discussed within a variety of substrata, including discipline, gender, and ethnicity, with further discussion for the broader implications of this new metric.
Forney, A., & Kim, S. (2020, June), Redefining Retention in STEM Education: New Perspectives on a Student-centered Metric of Success Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35125
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