Students leaving the STEM pipeline: an investigation of their attitudes and the influence of significant others on their study choice

Hanke Korpershoek*, Hans Kuyper, Roel Bosker, Margaretha van der Werf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The main aim of the present study was to investigate why some students do not continue in science-oriented studies in higher education despite that their previous career in secondary education proved that they were interested and suitably qualified to do so. We introduced a new approach to deal with these students' attitudes towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies. That is, the study was based on the multi-attribute utility theory, using an approach related to the theory of reasoned action. The study included 477 Dutch students that pursued a study in higher education (mostly second- and third-year students). All students had taken advanced mathematics, chemistry and physics courses in secondary education, but did not choose a STEM study in higher education. In 2008, a questionnaire was sent to them to measure their attitudes. The attitudes of these students towards STEM studies were compared with their attitudes towards their current (non-STEM) study, while also taking the influence of significant others (e.g. parents, teachers and peers) on these students' study choice into account. As expected, most non-STEM students had chosen the best suitable' option as regards their attitudes. Nevertheless, 1 out of 10 non-STEM students had a more favourable attitude towards STEM studies than towards their current non-STEM study. However, the hypothesis that these students had left the STEM pipeline because of the advice of significant others was not confirmed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-505
Number of pages23
JournalResearch Papers in Education
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1-Sep-2013

Keywords

  • multi-attribute utility theory
  • theory of reasoned action
  • attitudes
  • STEM studies
  • significant others
  • higher education
  • PERCEIVED BEHAVIORAL-CONTROL
  • SCHOOL SCIENCE
  • ACHIEVEMENT
  • GENDER
  • MATHEMATICS
  • PERFORMANCE
  • EXPERIENCES
  • INTENTIONS
  • IDENTITY
  • THREAT

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