Student and High-School Characteristics related to completing a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) major in college


**Background:** The importance of increasing the number of US college students completing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) has prompted calls for research to provide a better understanding of factors related to student participation in these majors, including the impact of a stu- dent’s high-school mathematics curriculum. **Purpose:** This study examines the relationship between various student and high-school characteristics and completion of a STEM major in college. Of spe- cific interest is the influence of a student’s high-school mathematics curriculum on the completion of a STEM major in college. **Sample:** The sample consisted of approximately 3500 students from 229 high schools. Students were predominantly Caucasian (80%), with slightly more males than females (52% vs 48%). **Design and method:** A quasi-experimental design with archival data was used for students who enrolled in, and graduated from, a post-secondary institution in the upper Midwest. To be included in the sample, students needed to have com- pleted at least three years of high-school mathematics. A generalized linear mixed model was used with students nested within high schools. The data were cross-sectional. **Results:** High-school predictors were not found to have a significant impact on the completion of a STEM major. Significant student-level predictors included ACT mathematics score, gender and high-school mathematics GPA. **Conclusions:** The results provide evidence that on average students are equally prepared for the rigorous mathematics coursework regardless of the high-school mathematics curriculum they completed.

In Research in Science & Technological Education, 30:1, 17 - 28