Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
David W. Shelton - Tennessee State University
African American (AA) students are under-represented in STEM (National Science Foundation, 2015), largely due to poor career persistence (National Science Foundation, 2014). Career development theories may provide a framework for interventions for improving STEM career persistence for AA students. One popular career development theory, Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994), claims that career development is affected by a number of factors such as interests, self-efficacy, and expectations. However, current career theories may not fully account for AA students’ career development (Bingham & Fouad, 1997).The purpose of the current study is to determine how well some factors of SCCT predict the persistence of biology majors at a historically black university. Participants (n = 280) consisted of undergraduate biology majors at a historically black university in the Southeastern US. Each participant was provided measures of STEM/technology interests, STEM/coping self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and persistence (Lent et al., 2003). Demographics information was also collected. Data was analyzed via stepwise multiple regression, with steps adding (in order) outcome expectations, self-efficacy, and interests. Outcome expectations [R2 = .094, p < .001], self-efficacy [R2 = .161, p < .001], and interests [R2 = .180, p < .05] each significantly contributed to the model predicting persistence. However, expectations and self-efficacy accounted for much more of the variance (9 percent and 7 percent, respectively) than interests (2 percent). Results suggest that outcome expectations and self-efficacy may serve as important areas of intervention for improving biology career persistence for AA students. Further research examining improvements in these areas and related improvements in STEM retention for AA students is warranted. References: Fouad, N. A. & Bingham, R. P. (1995). Career counseling with racial and ethnic minorities. In W. B. Walsh & S. H. Osipow (Eds.), Handbook of vocational psychology: Theory, research, and practice (pg. 331-365). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1994). Toward a unified social cognitive theory of career/academic interest, choice, and performance. Journal of Vocational Behavior [Monograph], 45, 79-122. Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., Schmidt, J., Brenner, B., Lyons, H., & Treistman, D. (2003). Relation of contextual supports and barriers to choice behavior in engineering majors: Test of alternative social cognitive models. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 50(4), 458-465. National Science Foundation. (2014). Higher education in science and engineering. Retrieved from http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/content/chapter-2/chapter-2.pdf National Science Foundation. (2015). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. Retrieved from http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2015/nsf15311/tables.cfm
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1238778. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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