Pipeline persistence: Examining the association of educational experiences with earned degrees in STEM among U.S. students



As the global economic crisis continues, sustaining the United States' position as a leader in research and development is a top concern of policy makers. Looking to increase the number of students pursuing degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), calls for improved mathematics and science education abound. We completed a two-part analysis to assess the school-based factors related to students choosing to complete a major in STEM. The results indicate that the majority of students who concentrate in STEM make that choice during high school, and that choice is related to a growing interest in mathematics and science rather than enrollment or achievement. These results indicate that the current policy focus on advanced-level course taking and achievement as measures to increase the flow of students into STEM may be misguided. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed95:877–907, 2011