Manuscripts

No. 100

Demographic Characteristics of High School Math and Science Teachers and Girls’ Success in STEM

Stearns, Elizabeth, Martha Bottia, Eleonora Davalos, Roslyn Mickelson, Stephanie Moller, and Lauren Valentino.  “Demographic Characteristics of High School Math and Science Teachers and Girls’ Success in STEM.” Social Problems 63: 87-110.

Given the prestige and compensation of science and math-related occupations, the underrepresentation of women and people of color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors (STEM) perpetuates entrenched economic and social inequities. Explanations for this underrepresentation have largely focused on individual characteristics, including uneven academic preparation, as well as institutional factors at the college level. In this article, we focus instead on high schools. We highlight the influence of the intersection between race and gender of female math and science teachers on students’ decisions to major in STEM fields. Theoretically, this article extends the political science concept of representative bureaucracy to the issue of women’s and disadvantaged minorities’ underrepresentation in STEM majors. We analyze longitudinal data from public school students in North Carolina to test whether organizational demography of high school math and science faculty has an association with college major choice and graduation. Using hierarchical probit models with an instrumental-variable approach, we find that young white women are more likely to major in STEM fields and to graduate with STEM degrees when they come from high schools with higher proportions of female math and science teachers, irrespective of the race of the teacher. At the same time, these teachers do not depress young white or African American men’s chances of majoring in STEM. Results for African American women are less conclusive, highlighting the limitations of their small sample size.

Dado el prestigio y la compensación de las ocupaciones científicas y relacionadas con las matemáticas, la sub-representación de las mujeres y personas de color en la ciencia, tecnología, ingeniería y carreras de matemáticas (STEM) perpetúa las desigualdades económicas y sociales arraigadas. Las explicaciones de esta falta de representación se han centrado en gran medida en las características individuales, incluyendo la preparación académica irregular, así como los factores institucionales en el nivel universitario. En este trabajo, nos centramos en cambio, en las preparatorias. Se destaca la influencia de la intersección entre la raza y el género de maestros de matemáticas y ciencias sobre las decisiones de los estudiantes de especializarse en campos de STEM. En teoría, este trabajo se extiende el concepto de ciencia política de la burocracia representante a la cuestión de la sub-representación de las mujeres y las minorías desfavorecidas en las especializaciones en carreras de STEM. Analizamos datos longitudinales de los estudiantes de escuelas públicas de Carolina del Norte para probar si la demografía organizacional de matemáticas de la preparatoria y la facultad de ciencias tiene una asociación con la especialización seleccionada por los estudiantes y con su graduación universitaria. El uso de modelos probit jerárquicos con un enfoque instrumental de variables, encontramos que mujeres jóvenes blancas tienen más probabilidades de especializarse en las carreras de STEM y graduarse con títulos STEM cuando vienen de preparatorias con una mayor proporción de maestras de matemáticas y ciencias, independientemente de la raza de la maestra. Al mismo tiempo, estas maestras no previenen las oportunidades de hombres jóvenes blancos o afroamericanos de especializarse en STEM, ni la presencia de maestros negros de matemáticas y ciencias asociados con hombres y mujeres negros asociados con resultados STEM.

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No. 101

The Relationships among High School STEM Learning Experiences and Students Intent to Declare and Declaration of a STEM Major in College

Bottia, Martha, Elizabeth Stearns, Roslyn Mickelson, Stephanie Moller, and Ashley Parker. Forthcoming. “The Relationships among High School STEM Learning Experiences and Students Intent to Delcare and Declaration of a STEM Major in College.” Teachers College Record.

Schools are integral to augmenting, diversifying, and equalizing the STEM workforce because schools can inspire and reinforce students’ interest in STEM in addition to academically prepare them to be able to follow a STEM career. This study examines the influence of high school exposure to basic STEM courses, high school exposure to STEM-related environment and activities, high school quantity of exposure to pre-college STEM classes, and the quality of the latter for a sample of college bound NC students’ likelihood of declaring a STEM major.  Utilizing multilevel-binomial models and multilevel-multinomial models with a longitudinal dataset from almost twelve thousand students in the North Carolina university system, we find that learning experiences students had during the high school years are related to students’ choice of major during the first college years. Findings suggest that STEM experiences of inspiration/reinforcement/preparation during high school interact with demographic variables to moderate students’ interest in STEM.  Taking physics, attending a school with a math and science focused program and intending to major in STEM during high school are the variables most closely associated with students’ choice of STEM as a major. In addition, taking physics is especially important for young women’s odds of declaration of STEM.

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No. 102

How (and Why) NCLB Failed to Close the Achievement Gap:  Evidence from North Carolina, 1998-2004

Mickelson, Roslyn, Jason Giersch, Elizabeth Stearns, and Stephanie Moller. 2013.  “How (and Why) NCLB Failed to Close the Achievement Gap: Evidence from North Carolina, 1998-2004.” ECI Interdisciplinary Journal for Legal & Social Policy 3: Article 1.

Recent state and national policy changes for public education are premised upon the idea that high-stakes tests can improve student outcomes and close achievement gaps. Opponents maintain that such policies fail on both counts. Using a unique longitudinal dataset from North Carolina, we find that high-stakes tests have failed to close achievement gaps associated with social class and race, and that the persistence of these gaps is related, at least in part, to academic tracking. Such findings add to the questions being raised about such policies as No Child Left Behind.

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No. 103

Growing the Roots of STEM Majors: Female Math and Science High School Faculty and the Participation of Students in STEM

Bottia, Martha, Elizabeth Stearns, Roslyn Mickelson, Stephanie Moller, and Lauren Valentino. Forthcoming. “Growing the Roots of STEM Majors: Female Math and Science High School Faculty and the Participation of Students in STEM” Economics of Education Review.

The underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is problematic given the economic and social inequities it fosters and the rising global importance of STEM occupations.  This paper examines the role of the demographic composition of high school faculty—specifically the proportion of female high school math and science teachers—on college students’ decisions to declare and/or major in STEM fields.  We analyze longitudinal data from students who spent their academic careers in North Carolina public secondary schools and attended North Carolina public universities. Our results suggest that although the proportion of female math and science teachers at a school has no impact on male students, it has a powerful effect on female students’ likelihood of declaring and graduating with a STEM degree, and effects are largest for female students with the highest math skills. The estimates are robust to the inclusion of controls for students’ initial ability.

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No. 104

Moving Latino/a Students into STEM Fields: The Role of Teachers and Professional Communities in Secondary Schools 

Stephanie Moller, Neena Banerjee, Elizabeth Stearns, and Roslyn Mickelson. “Moving Latino/a Students into STEM Fields: The Role of Teachers and Professional Community in Secondary School” Journal of Hispanic Higher Education

Utilizing data from a mixed method study of North Carolina’s 2004 high school graduating class, we argue that Latino/a students are more likely to major in STEM in college if they were educated in high schools where they studied with engaged and satisfied teachers who worked in collaborative professional communities.  We present quantitative results from the newly created ROOTS of STEM dataset, demonstrating that collaborative professional communities in high school are important for Latino/a students’ choice of major in college.  We also present results of qualitative interviews with seniors enrolled at one of the UNC system’s 16 campuses to help clarify Latino/a students’ perceptions of how pre-college educational environments shape their decisions to major in STEM.   These results illustrate the importance of teachers and teaching communities in high school for Latino/a students’ choice of major in college.

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No. 105

The Role of High School Racial Composition and Opportunities to Learn in Students’ STEM College Participation. 

Martha Bottia, Roslyn Mickelson, Elizabeth Stearns, Stephanie Moller, and Jason Giersch — Unpublished Manuscript.

We analyze longitudinal data from students who spent their academic careers in North Carolina public secondary schools and attended North Carolina public universities to investigate the importance of high school racial composition and opportunities to learn in pre-college contexts, as students’ experiences in these contexts shape their decisions on what to major in college.  Results indicate that having attended high schools with higher percentages of White students is negatively associated with declaring a STEM major and with actually graduating with a STEM major.  Additionally, the availability of STEM educational learning resources (instructional computers) and exposure to non-STEM teachers at their high schools are also significantly related to students’ STEM college participation. Results appear to hold more strongly for White students.

 

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No. 106

Boosting the numbers of STEM majors: the role of high schools with a STEM program

Martha Bottia, Roslyn Mickelson, Elizabeth Stearns, and Stephanie Moller. “Boosting the numbers of STEM majors: the role of high schools with a STEM program.” Science Education. DOI: 10.1002/sce.21318

This article investigates whether attending a high school that offers a specialized science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics program (high school with a STEM program) boosts the number of students majoring in STEM when they are in college. We use a longitudinal sample of students in North Carolina, whom we follow from middle school through college graduation, to estimate the effect of attending a high school with a STEM program on students’ interest in STEM, odds of declaring, and chances of persisting in their intention to major in STEM. Although our multilevel models indicate that attending a high school with a STEM program has a positive association with students’ STEM-related outcomes, once we control for sample self-selection through propensity score matching, we do not find evidence that attending high schools with a math and science–focused program significantly influences trajectories of STEM educational advantage for public school students in North Carolina. Our study concludes that perhaps even more important for college STEM success than what happens in high school is what STEM-related academic, familial, and formal/informal learning experiences the student had prior to entering high school.

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No. 107

Exposure to School and Classroom Racial Segregation in Charlotte-Mecklenburg High Schools and Students’ College Achievement

Giersch, Jason, Martha Bottia, Roslyn Mickelson, and Elizabeth Stearns.  “Exposure to School and Classroom Racial Segregation in Charlotte-Mecklenburg High Schools and Students’ College Achievement.”  Education Policy Analysis Archives 24(32)

In this study we investigate Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) high school graduates’ academic performance in the first year of college and test whether their exposure to racial segregation in high school at both the school and classroom levels affected their college freshman grade point averages. Utilizing administrative data from the Roots of STEM Success Project, we track the CMS class of 2004 from middle school through its first year of education in the University of North Carolina (UNC) system. Our findings show that segregation among schools and among classes within schools compromises college achievement for students of color while offering no significant benefits to white students’ college achievement.

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No. 108

Perceptions of Future Career Family Flexibility as a Deterrent from Majoring in STEM

Valentino, Lauren, Stephanie Moller, Elizabeth Stearns, and Roslyn Mickelson.  “Perceptions of Future Career Family Flexibility as a Deterrent from Majoring in STEM.” Social Currents 3: 273-292.

Research on the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) “pipeline” has charted the loss of potential STEM talent throughout students’ secondary and postsecondary trajectories. One source of STEM talent loss that has been commonly suggested throughout the literature is the lack of family friendly flexibility in STEM careers. This explanation has been offered as a reason why women are underrepresented in the STEM fields. We test this thesis using original survey data collected from 3,229 college students at each of the 16 North Carolina public universities. Our results indicate that a concern for the potential inflexibility of one’s future career is associated with a decreased likelihood of majoring in the “hard” STEM fields (physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics). However, we did not find gender differences in this effect, suggesting that men and women who are concerned with the family flexibility of their future career are equally likely to be deterred from STEM.

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No. 109

Distributive Justice Antecedents of Race and Gender Disparities in First Year College Performance

Bottia, Martha, Jason Giersch, Roslyn Mickelson, Elizabeth Stearns, and Stephanie Moller.  “Distributive Justice Antecedents of Race and Gender Disparities in First Year College Performance.” Social Justice Research 29(1): 35-72.

Public education is a sphere of society in which distributive justice with respect to the allocation of opportunities to learn can have profound and lasting effects on students’ educational outcomes. We frame our study in the distributive justice literature, and define just outcomes specifically from a meritocratic and strict egalitarian perspectives in order to investigate how assignment to academic tracks and the availability of opportunities to learn during high school are associated with students’ academic achievement during college. We examine the role of “just” placement into high school academic tracks, “just” access to high-quality teachers, and “just” assignment of secondary schools’ resources in high school, in relation to college freshmen’s grade point averages (GPA). We utilize longitudinal data from a unique dataset with over 15,000 students who spent their academic careers in North Carolina public secondary schools and then attended North Carolina public universities. Our results suggest that “unjust” assignment of students to certain high schools, access to high-quality teachers, and assignment to learn in specific academic tracks result in long-lasting consequences that are reflected in freshman college GPA. Importantly, findings also show that the direction and magnitude of the relationship between distributional injustice at schools and college performance is moderated by students’ own gender and race. Race and gender interact with the high schools’ institutional contexts operationalized by tracking practices, teacher quality, and by school racial and socioeconomic composition. Results show that similar settings do not affect all students in the same ways.

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No. 110

Growing the Roots of STEM Majors: Female Math and Science High School Faculty and the Participation of Students in STEM

Martha Bottia, Elizabeth Stearns, Roslyn Mickelson, Stephanie Moller, and Lauren Valentino.  “Growing the Roots of STEM Majors: Female Math and Science High School Faculty and the Participation of Students in STEM.” Economics of Education Review 45 (2015): 14-27.

The underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is problematic given the economic and social inequities it fosters and the rising global importance of STEM occupations. This paper examines the role of the demographic composition of high school faculty—specifically the proportion of female high school math and science teachers—on college students’ decisions to declare and/or major in STEM fields. We analyze longitudinal data from students who spent their academic careers in North Carolina public secondary schools and attended North Carolina public universities. Our results suggest that although the proportion of female math and science teachers at a school has no impact on male students, it has a powerful effect on female students’ likelihood of declaring and graduating with a STEM degree, and effects are largest for female students with the highest math skills. The estimates are robust to the inclusion of controls for students’ initial ability.

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No. 111

Moving Latino/a Students into STEM Fields: The Role of Teachers and Professional Communities in Secondary Schools

Moller, Stephanie, Neena Banerjee, Martha Bottia, Elizabeth Stearns, Roslyn Mickelson, Melissa Dancy, Eric Wright, and Lauren Valentino.  “Moving Latino/a Students into STEM Fields: The Role of Teachers and Professional Communities in Secondary Schools.” Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 1-31.

We argue that Latino/a students are more likely to major in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in college if they were educated in high schools where they studied with satisfied teachers who worked in collaborative professional communities. Quantitative results demonstrate that collaborative professional communities in high school are important for Latino/a students’ choice of major in college. Results from qualitative interviews clarify how Latino/a students’ perceptions of precollege educational environments shape their decisions to major in STEM.

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No. 112

STEM students’ perceptions of racism and sexism in STEM

Rainey, Katherine, Melissa H. Dancy, Roslyn Mickelson, Elizabeth Stearns, and Stephanie Moller.  “STEM students’ perceptions of racism and sexism in STEM.” Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings, Summer 2017.

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No. 113

Family Matters: Familial Support and African American Female STEM Success

Mickelson, Roslyn Arlin, Ashley Parker, Elizabeth Stearns, Stephanie Moller, and Melissa Dancy.  “Family Matters: Familial Support and African American Female STEM Success.” In Contemporary African American Families: Achievements, Challenges, and Empowerment Strategies in the 21st Century, D. Ruiz-Smith and S. Lawson Clark (editors).  New York: Routledge-Taylor & Francis.

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No. 114

Influences of teaching style and perceived care of instructor on retention of underrepresented groups in STEM

Dancy, Melissa, Katherine Rainey, Roslyn Mickelson, Elizabeth Stearns, and Stephanie Moller.  “Influences of teaching style and perceived care of instructor on retention of underrepresented groups in STEM.” Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings, Summer 2016.

We report on an analysis of interviews with 112 STEM majors and 49 students who started but dropped a STEM major. Interviewees are diverse across both race and gender. Students were asked about the level of interactivity in their college science courses and if they preferred a different emphasis. They were also asked if they thought their professors cared about them and their learning. Analysis indicates all demographics prefer more interactivity than they experienced and that women may be disproportionately discouraged by lecture-based teaching. Those who dropped a STEM major and minority women report the lowest levels of care from their professors. Additionally, as levels of classroom interactivity increased students reported increased levels of feeling that their professors cared about their learning. **Selected as a Notable Paper from the 2016 PERC Proceedings**

 

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers 0969286 and 1420363.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.