The Influence of Validating Advising Practices on Intention to Persist for Women and Underrepresented Minority Students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
There has been an ever-increasing demand in the United States to produce educated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals. Because more women and minority students have begun their higher educational preparation at community colleges, these institutions have been uniquely positioned to support these students and increase the number of STEM graduates. Nevertheless, to attain this commendable goal, community college staff and faculty members will need to redouble their efforts to provide active and sustained programs and interventions to support and assure student persistence in STEM fields.
To address the problem of practice, the researcher engaged in a variety of validating practices to influence women and minority students’ intent to persist in a STEM degree. Thirteen, first-year women and minority students participated in the study. Validation theory (Rendón, 1994) provided a framework to inform the intervention and forms of validation. The validating practices included two advising visits and intentional email communications to students in their first semester at community college.
A mixed methods approach was employed to examine two objectives: (a) the types of validation students experienced in their first semester and (b) the influence of validating advising practices on intention to persist in STEM. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB; Ajzen, n.d.) guided study efforts in relation to the second objective. Data gathered included survey data, interviews, email communications, and researcher journal entries. Results suggested students experienced academic and interpersonal validation by in-class and out-of-class validating agents. Although not all experiences were validating, students were validated to a greater extent by their academic advisor. Because of validating advising practices, students in this study developed confidence in their ability to be capable college students. Students also felt motivated and expressed intentions to persist toward a STEM degree.
The discussion focuses on explaining outcomes of the four research questions by connecting to the extant literature. In addition, limitations of the study are presented. Finally, implications for practice, implications for future research, and lessons learned are also shared.