Fostering Persistence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM): Creating an Equitable Environment That Addresses the Needs of Undergraduate Students

Jennifer Louten, Kennesaw State University


Student retention is a critical issue for universities, and nearly half of the students who start degree programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) do not complete them. The current study tracks the progress of STEM students taking part in an entry-to-graduation program designed to build community, provide academic and social support, and promote engagement in academically purposeful activities. Although it had no effect on the number of students who changed their major, the program more than doubled the number of students who graduated in their original major. Black or Hispanic students taking part in the program also graduated at twice the rate of comparator students, largely attributable to the success of women in these groups. The results provide needed real-world insights into how to create an equitable environment that promotes the persistence and graduation of students, including those from groups historically underrepresented in STEM.