Persistence in STEM Majors: Investigating Whether and When High- Performing Students Leave STEM during Undergraduate Studies
The focus of this study was to investigate the effects of both pre- and post-matriculation academic achievement on the likelihood and timing of high-achieving student departures from STEM majors at elite universities. While there has been robust research on persistence in STEM as a whole, survival analysis to investigate the timing of events is still a novel tool to investigate departure from STEM majors. Using longitudinal data collected at Harvard, secondary analysis was conducted to examine the research questions using discrete-time survival analysis. The researcher found that demographic characteristics of the students in the sample were not significant in predicting time-to STEM major attrition. However, verbal achievement was found to be the most significant predictor of STEM major attrition, with higher levels of verbal achievement leading to higher levels of attrition from STEM majors to non-STEM majors.