Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology & Research

Committee Chair

Yeh Hsueh

Committee Member

Karen Kitchens

Committee Member

Christian Mueller

Committee Member

Eli Jones


Low enrollment in STEM-related degree programs at the college level has been a national concern in the United States. Most American college students preferred to choose to major other than STEM majors. The purpose of this study was to examine if high school students' extensive STEM experiences in high school would influence their STEM major decisions. The theoretical framework for this study was Lent's Social Cognitive Career Theory, supported by some concepts from Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory and Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory. This study used data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, including self-efficacy, interest in math and science utility, math utility and science utility which served as outcome expectancy. The overarching research question is: Are there any effects of self-efficacy, interest and outcome expectancy in STEM high schools? Specifically, did self-efficacy and interest predict outcome expectancy? How variances differ between self-efficacy, interest and utility for math and science in student's who chose a STEM degree major and those who did not choose a STEM degree major. The results of two multiple regression analyses showed that self-efficacy and interest predicted math and science outcome expectancy. The results of a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) showed that the variance of self-efficacy, interest and outcome expectancy within math and science significantly differed between STEM degree majors and non-STEM degree majors. These relationships were especially strong in the areas of science interest and science utility within the student's junior year of high school. The discussion chapter interpreted these results using the theoretical framework to highlight the importance of providing extensive STEM education in the high school years.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest