Timely information and stem pipeline outcomes
Harding, Jeffrey Lewis
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An important strand of the STEM pipeline literature stresses students’ early educational years as being crucial in terms of developing positive attitudes and affinity toward STEM coursework and careers. Furthermore, by exposing students early on to the nature and requirements of STEM coursework, they may be better prepared to follow a course trajectory that allows them to take advanced mathematics courses in high school. To investigate this notion, I take advantage of a distinct dataset from New Hampshire that surveyed high school seniors about their postsecondary aspirations and important events from their early educational careers. In this dissertation, I use probit regression techniques to explore this dataset and ascertain whether very early student and parent conversations about what to do after high school are related to three STEM pipeline outcomes: taking advanced math courses in high school, taking a high number of science courses in high school, and expressing plans to major in a STEM field of study in college. I further examine whether the relationships of the outcomes variables to the timing of conversations, along with other factors in the model, differ by gender. Results indicate that very early (prior to eighth-grade) conversations are significantly and positively associated with taking advanced math courses in high school. Models disaggregated by gender provide mixed support for the idea that males and females have educational experiences that vary so widely that they require separate models for estimation.