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Predictive factors associated with ethnic minorities' selection of college academic major: emphasis on mathematics and science selection




Mellion, Willie, author
Gloeckner, Gene W., advisor
Davies, Timothy G., advisor
Wilke, W. Lee, committee member
Morgan, George A., committee member

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The percentages of African American undergraduate students entering college continues to rise or remain consistent but, the number of African American students who choose to major in STEM related fields remains below that of Asian or White students. The review of literature reports that African American students displayed an initial interest in STEM fields but more often than not chooses college academic majors in non-STEM fields. This research study examined the factors that affect African American undergraduate students’ choice of college academic major (STEM versus Non-STEM). Multiple factors were examined to see if there were differences between students who choose to switch academic majors and those who do not. This study also examined if there are any predictive factors that lead students to choose STEM academic majors. The participants were Southern University Agricultural and Mechanical College, undergraduate students (N = 238) classified as juniors or seniors, enrolled in the spring semester 2008. An independent sample f-test did not reveal any statistically significant differences between students who switched majors versus students who did not switch majors on 13 factors that might influence a student’s choice of major. Two by two factorial ANOVAs revealed statistically significant results between gender on the variables desire to help others through research or practice, desire to teach, mathematics grades, science grades, and advance placement/gifted talented classes took in high school. Statistically significant results were found between major on desire to attend graduate school, desire to attend professional school, desire for a high salary, desire to help others through research or practice, job stability, opportunity for more scholarships, science perception, mathematics grades, and advanced placement/gifted talented classes took in high school. The interaction between gender and major yielded statistically significant results for interest in discipline or field, father’s education, and science grades. Discriminate analysis revealed that high school preparation contributed most in predicting choosing a STEM college major. A t-test revealed a statistically significant difference between students who took calculus, physics, and trigonometry and participated in a STEM club in high school with selection of a STEM major.


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Print version deaccessioned 2022.

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College majors
African American college students


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