ERIC Number: ED362404
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Nov
Undergraduate Science Education: The Impact of Different College Environments on the Educational Pipeline in the Sciences. Final Report.
Astin, Alexander W.; Astin, Helen S.
The principal purpose of this empirical study was to identify factors in the backgrounds and college experiences of American undergraduate students that affect their interest in studying science and in pursuing science-related careers. Four-year longitudinal data were obtained from 27,065 freshmen who entered 388 four-year colleges and universities in the fall of 1985 and were followed up four years later in the fall and winter of 1989-90. Scores on college admissions tests and on graduate and professional school admissions tests taken four years later were included. Survey data were also obtained from students' faculty. Between the freshman and the senior years, the percentage of students majoring in fields of natural science, mathematics, and engineering (SME) declined from 28.7 to 17.4. Losses were greatest in the biological sciences and next in engineering. Despite the declining interest of students in science majors and careers during the college years, interest in obtaining masters and doctoral degrees increased during the same period. The strongest predictor of changes in students' interest in science majors or careers is the students' entering level of mathematical or academic competency. The greater the proportion of a student's peers majoring in a SME field the more likely that person is to choose a career in the same field. Appendixes include the survey forms, site visit protocols, and a 55-page table providing profiles of persisters, defectors, and recruits. (Contains 78 references.) (PR)
Descriptors: Biology, Career Choice, College Faculty, College Science, Educational Research, Engineering Education, Higher Education, Majors (Students), Mathematics Education, Peer Influence, Science Education, Science Interests, Student Attitudes, Teaching Methods, Undergraduate Students, Undergraduate Study
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: California Univ., Los Angeles. Higher Education Research Inst.
IES Cited: ED544470