Why Students Do Not Persist In STEM Majors? Using students who enrolled in chemistry courses as proxies for STEM studies

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Willis, Shanika
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Middle Tennessee State University
In 2015, one-half of college entrants originally enrolled in a STEM field switched majors to a non-STEM field or left STEM fields entirely before graduating college. This study was designed to investigate why students do not persist in STEM majors by using students who enrolled in chemistry courses as proxies for STEM studies. The MTSU student population provided a convenient sampling community. Survey Monkey was used to collect quantitative and qualitative data of students who have enrolled in or completed a chemistry course at any time in their college career. The researcher hypothesized that the variables affecting the retention of chemistry students are course requirements, grades attained by students and instructor availability. The data collected from this research did not definitively support the hypothesis and a low response rate was a limitation to the study. However, the responses should be given consideration because they express the dilemma that the younger generations face as they enter college STEM programs.