NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED514608
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 349
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1097-2241-3
Moving beyond Frontiers: How Institutional Context Affects Degree Production and Student Aspirations in STEM
Eagan, Mark Kevin, Jr.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
Colleges and universities in the U.S. face increasing pressure from policymakers and corporate leaders to increase their production of undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). These pressures stem from a need to maintain the country's global economic competitiveness in science and engineering innovation. While simultaneously increasing raw numbers of well-educated scientists and engineering, higher education institutions in the U.S. must also improve the diversity of researchers in these fields, as individuals who identify as Black, Latino, or Native American remain severely underrepresented in STEM disciplines. As colleges and universities move toward business-like models of providing an education to meet new accountability standards in a time of reduced resources, it remains unclear how colleges' and universities' push toward more efficient production affects students' likelihood of aspiring to varying levels of post-baccalaureate education. This study analyzes two points along students' pathways toward degrees and careers in STEM disciplines. Drawing from economic theory, this study makes use of stochastic frontier analysis, which is an econometric technique, to examine the institutional factors that affect undergraduate STEM degree production and the efficiency with which institutions produce. The study then moves into an examination of students' development of degree aspirations during college by drawing from status attainment theory and college student socialization theory to inform multinomial hierarchical generalized linear models of degree aspirations. The conclusions from this study suggest that applying economic theories to studies of educational endeavors has significant shortcomings, as economic theories and econometric techniques fail to account for the human element in the degree production process. Under-prepared students negatively affected institutions' production efficiency, as colleges and universities must expend more resources to address shortcomings in students' K-12 educational opportunities. Additionally, the findings suggest an opportunity for institutions and external agencies to invest more in undergraduate research experiences, as these programs provide significant support and encouragement to students as they develop and seek to confirm their educational aspirations. These findings have implications for the accountability movement in higher education as well as institutional practices that support students along their undergraduate STEM pathways. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A