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ERIC Number: EJ1135352
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-2014-5349
STEM Attrition among High-Performing College Students in the United States: Scope and Potential Causes
Chen, Xianglei
Journal of Technology and Science Education, v5 n1 p41-59 2015
Postsecondary education plays a critical role in building a strong workforce in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The U.S. postsecondary education system, however, frequently loses many potential STEM graduates through attrition. An increasing portion of STEM leavers are top performers who might have made valuable additions to the STEM workforce had they stayed in STEM fields. Using data from the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09), this study tracks a cohort of U.S. beginning bachelor's degree students over 6 years, providing a close look at STEM attrition among a group of high-performing college students. Capitalizing on the transcript data collected through BPS:04/09, this study also examines STEM coursetaking, detailing how participation and performance in undergraduate STEM coursework are associated with students' departure from STEM fields. The study finds that about a quarter of high-performing beginning bachelor's degree students entered STEM fields (i.e., declared a STEM major) during their enrollment between 2003 and 2009, and about a third of these entrants had left STEM fields by spring 2009. The results of multinomial probit regression analysis indicate that students' intensity of STEM coursework in the first year and their performance in STEM courses may have played an important role in their decisions to switch majors out of STEM fields.
Journal of Technology and Science Education. ESEIAAT, Department of Projectes d'Enginyeria c/Colom 11, 08222 Terrassa, Spain. e-mail:; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A