Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Douglas L. Epperson


This study explored the extent to which advising experiences with faculty, classroom social environment, relational-interdependent self-construal, and math and science self-efficacy, both individually and in combination, contribute to the prediction of persistence in the physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering (PSME). Based on the self-in-relation model of identity development and social-cognitive theories, it was hypothesized that: (1) women would prefer a more developmental style of advising than men; (2) a developmental style of advising, advising contact with faculty, and professorial concern would each contribute to the prediction of persistence in PSME majors; and (3) the relationships between: (a) advising experiences and professorial concern, and (b) math and science self-efficacy and persistence in PSME majors would be stronger for women than for men. One hundred sixty-eight third, fourth, and fifth-year undergraduate students (representing a 22% response rate) were surveyed by mail to explore the above relationships.;No difference in preferred style of advising was found between female and male students. In general, findings from linear and logistic regression procedures failed to support a significant link between advising experiences with professors in PSME majors and math and science self-efficacy and persistence in those majors. Results did offer support, however, for the importance of some relationship factors for persistence in these majors, and suggest that different factors may contribute to the prediction of persistence in these disciplines for women versus men. Findings suggest that, beyond the contribution of ability, a critical factor in women's persistence in PSME majors may be their perceptions of classroom affiliation in their courses, while a critical factor for men may be the level of support or encouragement they receive from role models to pursue their major. Suggested interventions for increasing rates of persistence in PSME disciplines include increasing students' level of career aspirations for these fields, increasing perceived classroom affiliation amongst students in these majors, and facilitating encouragement from role models to pursue degrees in these disciplines.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Jennifer Ann Dooley



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

125 pages