Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Prince, Debra L.

Committee Member

Adams, James H.

Committee Member

Yu, Chien.

Committee Member

Olinzock, Anthony A.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Instructional Systems and Workforce Development

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Instructional Systems and Workforce Development


The quality of STEM in higher education is widely recognized as an important issue. There is tremendous amount of concern around persistence, retention, and attrition for under-represented minority students (URMs) majoring in STEM disciplines. Retaining this population of students in the different STEM discipline is also a major concern for educators and policy makers in the United States. Student interest is there, however, problems arise when course work becomes challenging. As a result, students tend to lose confidence and change their majors. The purpose of this study was to discover factors that are related to persistence in STEM majors for a group of URMs who participated in a summer bridge program between 2008- 2014 at a Predominately White Institution of higher learning. In this study the researcher used archived data and quantitative research methods to identify different factors. Data analysis was conducted to answer the eight research questions that guided the study. To answer research question 1, descriptive statistics were used to analyze data that provided a comprehensive description of the students’ high school and college academic performance. One way ANOVAs were computed to analyze data for research questions 2-6, whereas Chi –Square Tests of Independence were used to analyze data for research questions 7 and 8. The researcher examined data for 232 URMs who participated in a summer bridge program during 2008-2014 academic years. The findings for research question 1 revealed that URMs represented in this study were college ready according to their average ACT scores and high school GPAs. An examination of two gatekeeper courses (Calculus and Chemistry) revealed that majority of the students passed with a letter grade of C or below. The findings for research questions 2-6 revealed statistically significant differences for URM students who persisted in STEM majors. They included ACT composite scores, ACT subscale scores all expect for reading, first semester GPA, first year GPA, sophomore year GPA, and number of credits earned through sophomore year. The findings for research questions 7 and 8 revealed that persistence was not influenced by gender or STEM major.