Factors that Influence Persistence in STEM fields: Does Matching with Classmates and Instructor Matter?

Joshua Price, Cornell University

Nearly 50% of entering freshmen who intend to major in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field fail to receive a degree in a STEM field, with even higher rates of attrition for women and minorities. This study examines how the characteristics of instructors and classmates in STEM courses influences the decision to persist toward a degree in a STEM field, of particular interest is the match that occurs for minority and female students with faculty of similar characteristics. Examining the 2000 entering cohort at 13 public four-year universities in Ohio shows that female students are significantly more likely to persist towards a STEM degree if they have a female instructor in a STEM during the first semester. Results are less strong for the match between minority students and instructors. However, Results indicate that matching with classmates has no significant influence on the decision to persist towards graduation.

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Presented in Poster Session 6