Date of Award

Summer 2013

Access Restriction

Campus Access only dissertations

Degree Name

Doctorate in Education

Department

Education

School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Yvette V. Lapayese, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Olga Moraga, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Robin Miskolcze, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to expand on the current research pertaining to women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors, better understand the experiences of undergraduate women in the sciences, identify barriers to female persistence in their intended STEM majors, and understand the impact of the STEM co-educational Living Learning Community (LLC) model on female persistence. This study employed a mixed-methods approach that was grounded in standpoint methodology. The qualitative data were collected through focus groups and one-on-one interviews with the female participants and was analyzed through a critical feminist lens utilizing standpoint methodology and coded utilizing inductive analysis. The quantitative data were collected and analyzed utilizing a simple statistical analysis of key academic variables indicative of student success: cumulative high school GPAs, SAT scores, first year cumulative GPAs, freshman persistence patterns in the intended major, and freshman retention patterns at the university. The findings of this study illustrated that the co-educational LLC model created an inclusive academic and social environment that positively impacted the female participants‟ experiences and persistence in STEM. The findings also found the inclusion of men in the community aided in the demystification of male superiority in the sciences for the female participants. This study also highlighted the significance of social identity in the decision making process to join a science LLC.

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