Accepting the challenge: Factors that contribute to improving degree completion rates of Hispanic and African American STEM majors
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines are imperative for the advancement of critical knowledge, assurance of national security, strengthening of community infrastructures, and the physical and psychological well-being of individuals and families. The purpose of the research was to determine if differences existed in institutional characteristics which attributed to improvements in the degree completion rates of Hispanic and African American STEM majors. The study centered on the problem of the underrepresentation of minority students completing degrees in STEM. This quantitative study used one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and mixed-method ANOVA to test archival data. Tests of within-subjects and between subjects were used for each research question to demonstrate if there was a statistically significant difference between Hispanic American, African American and White STEM students. The researcher selected 39 Research I STEM institutions in the United States where at least one-third of conferred bachelor’s degrees were awarded in STEM fields and had at least 70% overall six-year undergraduate graduation rates for all populations. The researcher examined precollege achievements, financial opportunities afforded to minorities, minority recruitment, institutional minority programs, summer bridge programs, and institutional plans of action. The IPEDS and institutional websites provided data for this study. The results conclude a gap exists among the degree completion rates of Hispanic and African American STEM students and White STEM students. The researcher found statistical evidence to suggest minority recruitment programs and implemented institutional plans of action for minority improvement contributed to increased degree attainment rates for minority STEM majors at the selected institutions. Future research could examine if the variability can be related to the amount of interaction between minority STEM faculty and minority STEM students; institutional partnerships with industrial leaders designed for financing minority STEM student’s education; mentorship programs with minority alumni and/or minorities employed in STEM professions; and earlier exposure to the STEM pipeline beginning with elementary school programs. These recommendations will allow trackable data to be analyzed and may lead to more statistically significant results.
Thomas, Dawn Nadine