6490 Student Migration Patterns in and Out of STEM Fields

Saturday, February 18, 2012: 2:00 PM
Room 119-120 (VCC West Building)
Lynne E. Molter , Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA
Beginning in 2010, CUSTEMS is a three-year project involving a collaboration of over 40 institutions, including public and private universities, public HBCU members of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and liberal arts colleges, who are interested in improving access to and retention of students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. While the study will include all students, special attention will be given to under-represented groups.

Institutions annually provide a set of predetermined quantitative information such as demographic, high school, parent/guardian, standardized test, course and grade, transfer credit, major and minor, and graduation date, from institutions’ student record data. A first year student survey is distributed each year by institutions to collect information about students’ intended major when they enter college, influences that affected their choice of anticipated major, confidence, high school background in math and science, educational and career plans and goals, work habits and expectations, and information about parent/guardian education. A fourth year student survey is being developed to understand the effects on and reasoning behind students’ final choice of majors.

These efforts will provide institutions with information about migration patterns to enable them to identify problem areas, and to determine where resources can best be allocated to address issues relevant to their concerns. The ability to track data after changes are made allows departments, colleges, and universities to develop richer and more in-depth assessments, and to continue making adjustments and monitoring for improvement.

Standardized analyses of the institutional and survey data will be provided to each participating institution, along with the results from a comparison group defined by each institution. Logistic regression, decision tree (CHAID), cluster, time-to-event, and other analyses will be provided when relevant to follow-up questions and topics arising from the standardized results.

Representatives from the participating institutions meet annually to discuss these issues, to articulate questions for study, and to determine the most effective ways to present the data and results. The Office for Educational Assessment (OEA) at the University of Washington provides the standardized data analyses, and Swarthmore College’s Office of Institutional Research provides the other specialized analyses described above based on requests and questions raised by participants.