"Foot in the Door: Expectancy-Value Profiles and Intention to Persist in Undergraduate Introductory Biology Course"
SRCD 2019 Biennial Conference
March 21-23, 2019
Title: Foot in the Door: Expectancy-Value Profiles and Intention to Persist in Undergraduate Introductory Biology Course (Poster)
Session: Education, Schooling
Authors: Yannan Gao, Anna-Lena Dicke, Nayssan Safavian, Justin Shaffer, Jacquelynne Eccles
Abstract: High dropout rates in STEM college majors are one of the most prominent problems in science education (Chen, 2015). Introductory STEM college courses have profound impact on students’ motivation and subsequent decisions to engage in STEM fields (Gasiewski et al., 2012): the decision to leave a STEM major occurs early in college (Seymour & Hewitt, 1997), especially among students from underrepresented backgrounds (Watkins & Mazur, 2013). To better understand the underlying processes, this study focused on students’ decision-making process in their first STEM college course using a demographically diverse sample. Specifically, using the Expectancy-Value Theory (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000), we investigated how biology undergraduates’ motivational profiles at the beginning of an introductory Biology class related to their course performance and their intention to persist in their Biological major at the end of the class.
Latent profile analysis was conducted to identify sub-groups of students sharing similar Expectancy-Value beliefs. Based on statistical and theoretical considerations, three groups of students were identified: “Biology is not my thing” (Profile 1, N = 51), “Biology is my passion, and I can do it” (Profile 2, N = 538), and “Biology is useful, but that’s it” (Profile 3, N = 130).
One-way ANCOVA tests, controlling for socio-demographic background and SAT scores, showed that students in the three profiles did not differ in their final course grade [F(2, 582) = 2.44, p = 0.09], but in their intention to take future Biology courses with course grade additionally controlled [F(2,666) = 77.15, p < .001]. Post hoc tests showed that Profile 2 students (M = 5.56, SD = 0.06) were more willing to continue taking Biology classes than Profile 3 students (M = 4.61, SD = 0.11), who were more willing than Profile 1 students (M = 3.49, SD = 0.18).
Among Biological field majors, multinomial logistic regression showed a statistically significant association between students’ motivation profile and their certainty about their Biological major at the end of the course. Compared to Profile 2 student, Profile 1 and Profile 3 students were more likely to become less certain about their Biological major.
These findings highlight the importance of motivational profiles for students’ educational choices. Illustrating a meaningful interplay of motivational beliefs, Profile 1 students, though similar to Profile 3 students in becoming less certain about their major, were less motivated to continue studying Biology. Thus, investigating students’ experience in college introductory classes can expand our understanding about the timing and context of students’ decision to persist or leave their intended STEM majors.
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