Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Soko Starobin


The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine Iowa community college students' intent to transfer to a 4-year institution in a STEM field. Specifically, it examined the demographics of the study participants as well as financial variables, including number of hours worked, number of dependents supported, and amount of financial aid received, to determine if there was any statistical significant differences between the students who did not intend to transfer, those students who did intend to transfer into a non-STEM field and those students who did intend to transfer into a STEM field.

Secondly, this study used exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling to identify the factors related to social and cultural capital (i.e., debt aversion, parental involvement, parent education levels, family encouragement, and access to institutional agents), finances (i.e., financial aid and financial concerns), and environmental pull factors(i.e., ability to balance work, home, and school) to determine the relationships among these predictors and their direct and indirect effects on transfer intentions. Cabrera, Nora and Castaneda's (1992, 1993) integrated model of student retention provided the conceptual framework for this research.

Statistically significant differences were found between students who did not intend to transfer and those students who intended to transfer in non-STEM fields and those who intended to transfer in STEM fields. This included differences in ethnicity, age, gender, parent education levels, and number of college math and science courses taken as well as in the amount of financial aid received (scholarships and loans) and their related financial concerns. Contrary to previous research, this study's findings indicated that financial aid (loans, scholarships, and grants) is a negative predictor of intent to transfer into a STEM field. The final model identified social capital factors related to parental education levels, family encouragement, parent involvement in high school, and access to institutional agents. Debt aversion did play a role in the model, although not a part of social capital as originally hypothesized. Environmental pull factors related to number of hours worked and number of dependents supported was not significant in this study.


Copyright Owner

Tracy L. Kruse



File Format


File Size

179 pages