Talking About Leaving, Revisited
The departure of undergraduate students from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors has remained a persistent problem since researchers and policymakers first took note 3 decades ago. Moreover, women and students of color majoring in STEM fields are more likely to switch to non-STEM majors, and continue to be underrepresented among those who persist to attainment in these fields. There is not only an apparent shortage of STEM majors to fill crucial jobs, but also a lack of critical diversity to spur scientific and technological innovation and expand opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups.
The 1997 book Talking about Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences identified numerous factors that affect STEM persistence. Although there have been widespread efforts over the past 15 years to address these factors, we don’t really know if these efforts have had any impact on students’ experiences and whether these experiences, in turn, have influenced student persistence in STEM fields. Thus, the primary objective of Talking About Leaving Revisited, co-funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the National Science Foundation, is to understand how student experiences shape national and institutional patterns of STEM persistence.