Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
The focus of this investigation is to generate a better understanding of the demographic, social, and cultural characteristics that affect the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) aspirations and transfer intentions of female students who are enrolled in a community college. Specifically, the purpose of this research study was to: 1) study how social capital, students' engagement with institutional agents (for the current study, the researcher conceives an institutional agent as an academic advisor/counselor), and chilly climate at a community college can be measured, 2) investigate whether these factors contributed to the STEM aspirations and transfer intentions of these students, and 3) to introduce a new theoretical model for studying the STEM aspirations and transfer intentions in a population of female community college students.
The conceptual framework for this investigation was based, in part, on the basic model that describes the process of social stratification from Blau and Duncan, (1967) and the concept of socialization and the influence of significant others, such as parents, siblings, teachers, and peers is included (Sewell & Hauser, 1980). The hypothesized model for the current study includes these concepts along with social capital within the family (Coleman, 1988), experiences with academic and counseling services (Stanton-Salizar 2011), and the incidence of chilly climate within the classroom or institution (Hall & Sandler, 1982).
The STEM Student Success Literacy (SSSL) Sample College, is a large multi-campus institution located in the Southeast. Data for this study was collected online via a unique survey instrument, the STEM Student Success Literacy Survey (SSSL), conducted during the spring of 2013. The survey was administered to students taking courses at specifically identified community colleges. Using quantitative research analysis, including descriptive analysis, comparative analysis, factor analysis, and multinomial logistic regression, the researcher hypothesizes that factors attributed to social capital, contact with academic advisors/counselors, and chilly climate may have a significant impact on a female student's academic aspirations and their decision to transfer to a four-year institution and enroll in a STEM focused program.
The results were compared to look at the differences among students who intended to transfer to a four-year institution and major in STEM, students who intended to transfer to a four-year institution and not major in STEM, and students who did not intend to transfer to a four-year institution. Significant differences within the test population were observed for the age, enrollment status, mother's level of education, number of math courses that a student had previously taken, and access to and interaction with academic advisors/counselors. No significant differences in the three groups were observed for race/ethnicity, the father's level of education, social capital within the family, or chilly climate. Based on the results of the factor analysis social capital, contact with advisor/counselors, and chilly climate were included in the final measurement model. Utilizing multinomial logistic regression, the STEM-SCCC model for Female Community College Students' Intentions to Transfer and Major in STEM found that age, enrollment status, contact and interaction with academic advisors/counselors, and number of math courses previously taken are predictive of a female students decision to transfer to a 4-year college/university and select a major in a STEM field.
Findings of this investigation can be used by policy makers, administrators, and faculty to create more effective teaching and learning strategies that better serve female students enrolled at a community college and assist female students in their pursuit of a STEM education. Additionally the study contributes to the existing literature and adds to a growing knowledge base and a better understanding of female participation in STEM education.
John Richard Jorstad
Jorstad, John Richard, "STEM aspiration: the influence of social capital and chilly climate on female community college students" (2015). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 14393.