Transfer Student Persistence in a Stem Major at a Four-year Institution
Studies have focused on persistence in college but not specifically in STEM fields where higher rates of drop out and switching to non-STEM degrees occurs (Chen, 2015). According to Myers, Starobin, Chen, Baul, and Kollasch (2015), variables and factors that contribute to STEM degree persistence among transfer students in STEM fields have not been thoroughly explored. An examination of undergraduate persistence in a STEM degree for those students that begin at a community college, as well as any transfer experiences they may have as they navigate from a community college to a four-year institution, would provide a critical insight into this underserved area of study. This quantitative study sought to explore the pre-college, community college, and four-year college experiences on the persistence in a STEM degree for students that transferred from a community college to a four-year research university. Using a principle component analysis to combine items into components using scale scores, as well as a logistic regression analysis revealed that there are four factors that are correlated with persistence in a STEM degree at a four-year institution. Results from the regression analysis in this study highlight a variety of factors that potentially impact the persistence of transfer students in a STEM major at the four-year institution: (1) pre-college high school engagement activities, (2) engagement in campus activities at the community college, (3) the number of STEM courses taken at the community college, and (4) the experience upon arrival at the four-year college, which highlight the student's perception of stress and discomfort upon their arrival at the four-year institution.