Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 5-9-2014


Edzie, R.L. (2014). Exploring the factors that influence and motivate female students to enroll and persist in collegiate STEM degree programs: A mixed methods study. Ph.D. diss., University of Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Doctorate of Philosophy, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor James O’Hanlon. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Rosemary L. Edzie


Nationally, the need for an increase in interest, enrollment, and degrees awarded from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree programs continues to suffer. While students are enrolling in collegiate STEM degree programs, it is not occurring at a rate that meets the workforce demand. In addition to the concern that there is not a sufficient amount of collegiate STEM majors, there is a concern over too few females enrolling and persisting in collegiate STEM degree programs.

This mixed methods sequential exploratory research study considered the factors that influence and motivate undergraduate female students to enroll and persist in collegiate STEM degree programs. The research study was conducted in four phases. The first phase of the study focused on exploring the factors that influenced first-year female freshmen to enroll in a collegiate STEM degree program. Qualitative data were collected from undergraduate females enrolled in a STEM degree program. The second phase, instrument development, involved developing a survey instrument that consisted of 15 questions. The survey included a combination of (a) the Motivated Student Learning Questionnaire, (b) the questions developed from the findings from the qualitative phase, and (c) a demographic section. In the third phase of the research study, quantitative data collection, the survey instrument was administered to a sample of undergraduate female STEM majors. The fourth phase integrated the findings from the qualitative and quantitative phases.

Five factors were considered as being significant to undergraduate female STEM majors when choosing a collegiate degree program: (a) helping others in their career, (b) having access to pre-collegiate STEM exposure, (c) obtaining information about STEM career pathways, (d) establishing relationships with influential stakeholders, and (e) developing confidence in math and science. The findings from this study illustrate the role of K-12 STEM educators, pre-collegiate STEM outreach programs, and STEM education policymakers in influencing and motivating female students to enroll and persist in collegiate STEM degree programs.

Adviser: James O’Hanlon