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Choosing science : a mixed-methods study of factors predicting Latino and Latina high school students' decisions to pursue science degrees
Stein, Rachel S.
Santa Cruz, Rafaela
xvi, 266 pages : illustrations
Latino/as are an increasingly large subset of the United States population; however, they continue to be underrepresented in science careers. Because of this increase, research regarding Latino/as has improved, but there are still many gaps in regards to gender-specific predictors to pursue science careers. To address this lack of literature, the purpose of this study is to extend previous research and to develop a model of variables that significantly contribute to science career choice among Latino and Latina students when they graduate from high school. In particular the study addressed the following research questions: (1) What are the differences in science outcomes for Latino and Latina students? (2) What are the differences in factors involved in science outcomes for Latino and Latina students? (3) For Latino and Latina students what are the differences in the factors that predict students' choice to pursue a science degree and/or high scores on the Future Plans in Science Scale? (4) What are the differences in how Latino and Latina students experience science, which account for high achieving students to choose to pursue a science major? This study utilized an explanatory mixed-method approach to examine how cognitive, institutional, and motivational factors may be interrelated and play a role in Latino/as choice to pursue science. The first phase of the study incorporated the collection of survey and database information from 12th grade students at two Southern California high schools. The second phase of the study utilized follow-up focus group interviews to explore the specific differential experiences and views of Latino and Latina students. The results of the study demonstrated multiple significant predictors. Science self-concept and views towards science outside of school were the most significant predictors of students' choice to pursue science. Male students also had major predictors of Spanish proficiency, teacher encouragement, religious views, and attitudes towards scientists and science careers, while female students also had the predictor of family views and experiences. Findings from this study give insight into improvements for school practices and policies aimed at guiding more Latino and Latina students into science careers.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 221-245).
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Claremont Graduate University and San Diego State University, 2012
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